• Iain McLarty

Baptism of the Lord B

Genesis 1:1-5

Psalm 29

Acts 19:1-7

Mark 1:4-11


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


Whenever a creation narrative appears I always think it’s a great way to begin a service, and this works particularly well when combined with the baptism texts giving a Trinitarian structure to the service. Uyai mose / Come all you people (CH 757) from Zimbabwe can be sung a capella or unaccompanied (you could also make it Trinitarian by changing “Maker” to “Saviour” and “Spirit”). God is love: let heaven adore him (CH 123 / MP 187) would be a similarly energetic opener and if the tune isn’t familiar you can use Hyfrydol or Blaenwern instead. Sing for God’s glory (CH 172) has an arrangement that helps get a decent speed for a tune which can sometimes be a bit of a dirge (make sure to sing it in one in a bar). From life’s beginning / Let praise resound (Resound) is a really uplifting call to worship that is tightly themed around Creation in a way few songs of its style have done. There are quite a few songs called Let there be light (CCLI / YouTube) but I really like this version by Canadian band The City Harmonic.


The classic Trinitarian opener would be Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty (CH 111 / MP 237) which can be accompanied in a whole range of styles and instrumentation, while God, whose almighty word (CH 112) has a Trinitarian structure but also has strong imagery from Genesis. Today I awake (CH 211) has some wonderful imagery with a tune that is well worth learning. Our God saves (CCLI / MP 1192) is explicitly Trinitarian in the way few songs of its style are while Jesus lead us to the Father (Resound) is fast becoming a modern classic. It can simply be sung in unison but when used as a round it can really build a wonderful time of praise.

Word


Thanks to God whose word was spoken (CH 605) or For your gift of God the Spirit (CH 603) would be particularly appropriate to sing before the reading of scripture today as they set the place of the Word in the context of both creation and the Spirit.


Interestingly there are two paraphrases of Psalm 29 from different sources both set to the tune Ebenezer, All who throng the halls of heaven (WGRG) and All on earth and all in heaven (PFAS 29A), with the strength of this tune a good match for the text. Ascribe unto the Lord (Grace) is set to a Sacred Harp tune and would be well suited to a folky arrangement by a band.



Response


There are a number of songs which specifically reference the Baptism of Christ of which Out of the flowing river (CH 335) is the most focused while Mark how the Lamb of God, self-offering (CH 629), When Jesus came to Jordan (Hymnary) and The sinless one to Jordan came (NEH 58) take it as a starting point to reflect on broader theological themes. If you have a congregation or choir comfortable with chant then When you, O Lord, were baptised (Hymnary / TM 98) is also worth considering, set to a Russian Orthodox tune perhaps best known for its use in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.


You can of course consider other songs linking to baptism and particularly to the water theme such as Grace Like a Wave (CCLI) or Baptised in water (CH 636) which can be sung to Bunessan. Wash me in the water (WGRG) and Wash me clean in that cool river (STF 453) are very short choruses which would be easy to pick up while Come to the river (OCP) has a bit of a Gospel feel and an easy chorus while verses would perhaps be best taken by a soloist.


Finally, there are songs which call to the Spirit. Breath of God (CCLI / STF 386) would work well as the first verse is based on the opening of Genesis before the chorus moves into this call while Holy Spirit living Breath of God (MP 1183 / CCLI / Getty) also links back to “Creation’s birth” in it’s final verse. Spirit of the living God (CH 619 / MP 613) is always a good song to consider as well since it is a “heart song” for so many people.



Sending


There are a lot of classic hymns which would work well to conclude today. For a focus on the Trinity you could consider God the Father of Creation (CH 113) or I bind unto myself today (CH 639), which has mention of Jesus’ baptism in v2 while if you have used a Trinitarian structure, while King of Kings (CCLI) would be a more contemporary option. Praise the Spirit in creation (CH 588) or Spirit break out (CCLI) would give a good ending focused on the place of the Spirit while We know that Christ is raised and dies no more (CH 635) has a more explicit focus on baptism.


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