And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power…
I wish to speak to you about our Church services. I wish to ask you to help me in making them different from what they now are. There is a coldness and a lifelessness about our services which to my mind is very painful. When we meet together in God's house we come especially to pray. And if we come to pray, we come to present ourselves before God. The very idea of prayer and of all worship implies at once that we are entering into God's presence.
1. Now, first, if God is in the midst of us the thought will teach us reverence.
2. And one word about inattention and wandering thoughts before I go on. It is a great grief to many a worshipper, and it comes even to the best. But you are not without a remedy. Besides your prayers for grace to resist these wanderings of eye and thought, I believe the best help will be to use the Prayer-book more, and to keep the eye more fixed on the page. You are less likely to think of other things when you are following the words.
3. But there is another help, which perhaps is more effectual still, that you should take your proper part in the services of the Church. And it is especially of this, the responding aloud, the joining in the common worship of Almighty God, that I wish to speak. In the early days of the Church we read of the worshippers joining so heartily in the prayers that their responses, we are told, sounded like thunder, or like the roar of waters. And still, in our own day, when our missionaries come back to England, they almost invariably speak with pain of the coldness of our English worship. Among their own people, among the converts whom they have gathered round them, there is an intelligent taking part in the services; all responding where the responses are to be made, and all repeating the "Amen" at the end of the prayers. It is to our great loss that we fail in this. It is a mighty power, that power of sympathy. It helps to keep up our own flagging attention. it helps to increase our own devotions to find that others are praying at our side, following the words, and joining in the service. It moves and quickens the heart to feel that your voice is blending with the voice of others, that your petitions are going up, not singly, but united with other prayers, to the throne of grace. And surely in that stronger enthusiasm there was a sense of God's presence: a real honest belief that He was near to bless, because His blessing was really desired. The real dignity and power of the service of our Church will not be understood till you have learned its congregational character, till you have come to understand how grand is the effect of a great multitude of voices uniting in praise together, or together imploring God's pardon and grace; each encouraging the other, and so each contributing to the noble tribute of worship, which ascends like sweet incense before God's throne from a Christian congregation met together in His name. And in this way, also, you will be approaching negater to the service of the redeemed in heaven. We read in the Revelation of St. John of the great company of all nations and kindreds, and people and tongues, standing around the throne. And out of the throne there came forth a voice, calling all that mighty host to praise their God. And we are to do our part in fulfilling the vision of the apostle, when he heard "every creature which is in heaven and on the earth," etc.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: