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CW - New Service Settings Introductions

Introducing The Common Service Musical Settings

Please review the suggestions for introducing Christian Worship: New Service Settings (CW: NSS)—click here.

The fofllowing pages give a plan for introducing The Common Service. If you choose to introduce a different service from CW: NSS first, the basic concepts also apply.

How Your Congregation May Benefit from the Common Service

  • add variety to your worship
  • preserve the texts of The Common Service for active use by future generations
  • deepen spiritual life and worship
  • increase use of piano and other instruments in worship
  • introduce new psalm settings
  • provide resources to print the entire service, with music, in the service bulletin
  • enhance ability to connect with visitors

Getting to Know the Materials

  • Preparation for introducing this service must begin long before its first use.
  • Pastors and parish musicians should review the materials. These may seem complicated at first due to options such as instrumental music, choral involvement, electronic and printed materials, various service bulletin options, and copyright issues. After a short time, the specific options that will be beneficial to your unique parish will be evident.
  • Organists, pianists, and keyboard players should practice the music to become completely comfortable with the new materials. Accurate playing is always important but especially for a comfortable first experience for worshipers. Note tempo indications in the accompaniment edition. MIDI files are available for those who use them.
  • Choir directors, choirs, children, soloists, and cantors should become familiar with the music, preparing to introduce and assist the members in learning the service. If your church has no choir, select a group of solid singers who can be an ad hoc choir to help worshipers become comfortable with the new musical settings. Whenever possible, teach other groups a new liturgical portion: women’s group, Sunday school, Bible classes.


  • A successful and comfortable introduction of The Common Service and other CW: NSS services and psalms (Pew Edition pages 60-69) will happen for most people if worship leaders follow a careful plan. Offer the right amount of new material without overloading people or making people impatient from too much introduction.
  • The CD recording is not meant to be played to the con-gregation since the impact isn’t likely to be as meaningful as a live presentation. The CD can serve as a guide for pastors and musicians.
  • The piano accompaniment will take considerable preparation for many pianists. It is not merely a simplified version of the organ music. In some parishes it may be desirable to accompany some songs on piano (for example, “Create in Me” and “O Christ, Lamb of God”) and others on organ.
  • Will the Pew Edition fit in the hymnal rack? Or where will it be stored? Or will you not purchase copies of the Pew Edition at all and use instead the Electronic Edition to create custom worship folders?
  • Change is difficult, even threatening, for some people. Don’t be overly concerned about convincing everyone to be excited and accepting of new material. Let people experience these settings presented in a tasteful and polished manner after adequate preparation and introduction. Give people a chance to become familiar with new things before asking for feedback.

Planning the Introduction

  • It is neither necessary nor ideal that the congregation sings all of the service the first time it is used for worship. Use a plan that gives the congregation increasing musical portions of the service while delegating some portions to a choir or soloist. The more advance preparation you do, the more comfortable the congregation will be when it finally joins in singing the service.
  • Allow about five minutes before each service to introduce the congregation to their new musical portion and to review the previous Sunday’s new portion (see chart below). This process is important so that the new service will not feel as foreign to people when they actually use it for worship. Local customs will determine whether these minutes are in addition to the regular worship “hour” or whether the service is shortened to allow adequate time.
  • Remind choir members that when they are sitting among the congregation, they can help lead the congregation.
  • There are seven parts for the congregation to learn: “Lord Have Mercy,” “Glory to God,” Gospel Acclamations, “Create in Me,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “O Christ Lamb of God,” and Song of Simeon.
  • Note the Alternate Beginning on page 6 in the Pew Edition. It is perhaps best to wait with this until people are comfortable with the standard version.
  • When using Service of the Word or Morning Praise, replace portions of that service with the new Common Service setting to continue the week by week introduction process.
  • Worship planners know their congregation’s musical aptitude and will adjust the schedule below accordingly to achieve the best results.

Pre-service Practice Schedule

For those printing out the “Glory to God” in the service folder, the music notation graphics for Weeks 1-3 are found on the NPH website.

Week Teach Review
Week 1 “Glory to God” (refrains)
Week 2* “Glory to God” (“For you alone...”) “Glory to God” (start with 2nd refrain)
Week 3 “Glory to God” (“Lord Jesus Christ...”) “Glory to God” (refrains + sections 1,2)
Week 4 “Glory to God” (“Lord God, heavenly...”) “Glory to God”—ALL
Week 5 “O Christ, Lamb of God” “Glory to God”—ALL
Week 6 “Lord, Have Mercy” & Gospel Acclamations “O Christ, Lamb of God”
Week 7 Song of Simeon “Lord, Have Mercy” & Gospel Acclam.
Week 8 “Holy, Holy, Holy” Song of Simeon
Week 9 “Create in Me” “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Week 10 (as necessary) “Create in Me”

* An alternate approach gives only the refrain to the congregation while choirs and soloists sing the rest of the text the first few times this song is used. The congregation continues to sing only the Gloria refrain while learning the remainder of the songs. This allows people to learn the Gloria largely by hearing the choir or soloist. When the time comes for everyone to sing the entire song, you still might use the rehearsals indicated above, possibly over two weeks instead of three.


In addition to a careful and comfortable acquaintance with the new music of the liturgy, wor-shipers will benefit from a deepened understanding of the flow and logic of the service. Introducing the new music for The Common Service provides an opportunity for highlighting these liturgical texts in sermons, newsletters, service bulletins, and Bible studies.

Material from the Come Worship Christ curriculum can also be used [description]. See also, Meaningful Worship by James Brauer, CPH 1994, for 96 pages of accessible guidance on Lutheran worship. Each chapter begins with useful stories and anecdotes.

It is better to use this service, when first learning it, for several Sundays in a row rather than alternating with other services. If people experience singing the entire service at first only once or twice a month, the rein-forcement that brings familiarity will be diminished. Even after a congregation becomes comfortable with a service, consider a seasonal variety of services rather than a monthly or every-other-Sunday variety. A seasonal variety approach might look like this:

  • Advent: The Common Service (new)
  • Christmas-Epiphany: Service of Word and Sacrament, Service of the Word
  • Lent: The Common Service (old)
  • Easter: The Common Service (new)
  • Pentecost-Labor Day: Service of Word and Sacrament, Morning Praise (hymnal or CW:NSS if known)
  • End of the Pentecost Season (September and October): The Common Service (new), Service of the Word
  • End Time: Service of Word and Sacrament, Service of the Word

God bless your efforts to enrich and lead worship to his glory and for the edification of his people!

Prepared by WELS Commission on Worship, a ministry of WELS Parish Services

Portions of this document were modified from Christian Worship: An Introduction © 1993 Northwestern Publishing House.

© 2003 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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