FLIGHT INTO EGYPT (Prelude instrumental)
☩Irish Traditional carol

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
☩French Traditional carol

STILL, STILL, STILL (Instrumental)
☩German Traditional carol

Wait for the Lord,
Whose day is near,
Wait for the Lord,
Keep watch, take heart.
© Taizé Community / GIA Publishing

RESPONSIVE READING (Isaiah 40:1 – 11)
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD’S hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”

See, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
☩French Traditional carol

☩Irish Traditional carol

IN GOD ALONE (All sing)
In God alone my soul can find rest and peace,
In God my peace and joy.
Only in God my soul can find its rest,
Find its rest and peace.
© Taizé Community / GIA Publishing

My dearest Lord.
Be Thou a bright flame before me.
Be Thou a guiding star above me.
Be Thou a smooth path beneath me.
Be Thou a kindly shepherd behind me.
Today and evermore.
© Attributed to Columba of Iona

SILENCE IN THE DAY (Instrumental)
© Brian Dunning & Jeff Johnson / Sola Scriptura Songs


SILENT PRAYER (10 minutes)

☩German Traditional melody


Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art.
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliverer,
Born a child and yet a king.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone.
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
☩ Traditional carol by Rowland Prichard & Charles Wesley

THE SONG OF MARY (Luke 1:46-55)
Reader 1:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

Reader 2:
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

Reader 1:
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY (All sing)
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy, All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubin and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy,though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy, there is none beside thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
☩Traditional hymn by Reginald Heber & John Dykes

CLOSING PRAYER (Luke 2:29-32)

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.

May your heart find grace,
May your soul know peace,
May your mind be renewed.

And may your eyes see the light,
May your ears hear the glory,
Of Jesus Christ in our midst.
© Jeff Johnson / Sola Scriptura Songs

Featured musicians ~
Jeff Johnson ~ Vocal & keys
Brian Dunning ~ Flute & pennywhistles
Wendy Goodwin ~ Violin

Artwork by Kathy Hastings (www.kathyhastings.com)
Used with permission.


©Kathy Hastings Used with permission.

Brendan O’Malley is Dean of Chapel and Part Time Lecturer at the University of Wales, Lampeter. He is a Canon of St. David’s Cathedral and the author of many books. O’Malley’s A Celtic Primer was one of the first books we used for creating Selah services. It’s quite an eclectic compilation, but full of great gems from the Celtic tradition. Here are two of our favorites.

Gaelic Prayer –
I lie down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me;
I lie down this night with the Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me;
God and Christ and the Spirit
Be lying down with me.

Old Irish Prayer –
Evening Prayer
Let us adore the Lord,
Maker of marvelous works,
Bright heaven with its angels,
And on earth the white-waved sea.

The Glenstal Abbey in County Limerick, Ireland, is a Benedictine monastery, operating a school, a ministry of hospitality, and providing an expression of Benedictine spirituality in the modern world. The pattern of the liturgy and prayer life at the abbey is a modified form of the ancient Benedictine structure. Their popular THE GLENSTAL BOOK OF PRAYER follows this structure and also provides other prayers and pertinent liturgical references. Here’s one of our favorites.

Glory be to God who has shown us the light!
Lead me from darkness to light,
Lead me from sadness to joy,
Lead me from death to immortality,
Glory be to God who has shown us the light!

©Kathy Hastings Used with permission.

Many of the prayers that I utilize in the Selah service that are not directly from scripture originate from the Christian Celtic tradition. Many of these prayers take the language of the Biblical psalms and places them in the surroundings of the Celtic land where their authors lived, worked and worshiped God.

St. Patrick
As a youth in a Christian home (his grandfather was a priest) in Britain, Patrick was not particularly religious. Then came his capture by Irish slave traders into Ireland where his faith and calling by God was kindled. Eventually he escaped and returned home and even ventured to Rome where he experienced the vision of the Irish calling him back to walk among them with the Gospel of our Lord. He did so and organized a significant network of churches throughout Ireland that would eventually reach out to many other areas of Britain and Europe.

Our God is the God of all,
The God of heaven and earth,
Of the sea and of the rivers;
The God of the sun and of the moon and of all the stars;
The God of the lofty mountains
and of the lowly valleys.
He has His dwelling around heaven and earth,
and sea, and all that in them is.
He inspires all,
He gives life to all,
He dominates all,
He supports all.
He lights the light of the sun.
He furnishes the light of the night.
He has made springs in dry land . . .
He is the God of heaven and earth,
of sea and rivers,
of sun, moon and stars,
of the lofty mountain and the lowly valley,
the God above heaven,
and in heaven,
and under heaven.

Lord, be with us this day,
Within us to purify us;
Above us to draw us up;
Beneath us to sustain us;
Before us to lead us;
Behind us to restrain us;
Around us to protect us.

St. Columba

Born in Ireland, Columba was the great-great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, an Irish king of the 5th century. A battle where many men were killed was caused by Columba’s hot headed dispute over a copied manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian. As penance for these deaths, Columba left for Scotland to work as a missionary. He ended up landing on the island of Iona with twelve companions where he established an abbey that would introduce the Gospel to the people of the Hebrides and beyond. He is credited as being a leading figure in the revitalization of monasticism which eventually spawned a revival of Christianity in Western Europe after the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Almighty God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
to me the least of saints,
to me allow that I may keep even the smallest door,
the farthest, darkest, coldest door,
the door that is least used, the stiffest door.
If only it be in Your house, O God,
that I can see Your glory even afar,
and hear Your voice,
and know that I am with You, O God.

My dearest Lord.
Be Thou a bright flame before me.
Be Thou a guiding star above me.
Be Thou a smooth path beneath me.
Be Thou a kindly shepherd behind me.
Today and evermore.

The path I walk, Christ walks it.
May the Land in which I am in be without sorrow.
May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bright angels walk with me. Dear presence – in every dealing…
May every path before me be smooth;
man, woman and child welcome me.

We heartedly recommend the books of David Adam who is the former vicar of Holy Island, on the coast of Northumberland, where he ministered to thousands of pilgrims and other visitors for many years. He has many books of Celtic prayers and liturgy.

From Clouds & Glory: Prayers for the Church Year
(Morehouse Publishing)

Eternal God and Father,
we thirst for your love,
we long for your presence,
we yearn for your peace.
Come, Lord, restore us that we may live to your glory;
through him who gives us the water of life,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Traces Of Glory: Prayers For The Church Year
(Morehouse Publishing)

Come, Lord, come down, come in, come among us.
Enter into our darkness with your light.
Come fill our emptiness with your presence.
Dispel the clouds and reveal your glory.
Come refresh, renew, restore us.
Come Lord, come down, come in, come among us. Amen.

From Glimpses of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year
(Morehouse Publishing)

Lord our Saviour, our hope is in you:
no one is beyond your love,
no one is beyond your saving power.
Give us grace to recognize you and welcome you
as you come to us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.


©Kathy Hastings Used with permission.

J. Philip Newell is Scholar in Spirituality at S. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the author of numerous, well crafted books offering original prayers in the Celtic tradition. We use his prayers often in the Selah Service and featured several of them on our SELAH AUDIO MEDITATIONS – VOL. 2.

From Celtic Benediction: Morning & Night Prayer
(Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing)

I watch this morning
for the light that the darkness has not overcome.
I watch for the fire that was in the beginning
and that burns still in the brilliance of the rising sun.
I watch for the glow of life that gleams in the growing earth
and glistens in sea and sky.
I watch for your light, O God,
in the eyes of every living creature
and in the ever-living flame of my own soul.
If the grace of seeing were mine this day
I would glimpse you in all that lives.
Grant me the grace of seeing this day.
Grant me the grace of seeing.

From Celtic Prayers From Iona
(Paulist Press)

O loving Christ
who died upon the tree
Each day and each night
I remember Your love.
In my lying down
and in my rising up
In life and in death
You are my health and my peace.
Each day and each night
I remember Your forgiveness
Bestowed on me so gently
and generously
Each day and each night
may I be fuller in love to you.

©Kathy Hastings  Used with permission.

Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.


Any reader of the Psalter will note a mysterious word that seems to randomly pop up between its verses from time to time. The word Selah is indeed a mystery to Biblical scholars as well. Most agree that it was likely a musical term that signified a rest or pause within the text.

A number of years ago two friends and myself were discussing the idea of creating a worship service at our local Baptist affiliated church that would emulate the contemplative models of worship such as Taizé. Having been to Taizé in the Bourgogne region of France as well as participating in several stateside Taizé service transplants, we each longed for a similar kind of expression of worship. An expression, being Protestant and artists by vocation, which incorporated a love for the proclamation of God’s word and our creative sensibilities with prayer spoken and unspoken. Thus, the Selah Service was born replete with the choruses of Taizé as well as my own original music combined with Biblical readings often focusing on the Psalms as well as such Christian traditions as the Celtic church. The service was enhanced with candlelight and various artistic symbols and renderings that were either displayed or projected on the walls and ceiling of the geodesic dome in which the church gathered.

Over the years, this monthly “experiment” turned into a more serious vocation for me leading Selah services and working with churches to help them develop their own expression of contemplative worship. One of the more memorable ones was a modified Selah for 8,000 people which took place in a large entertainment center for a national youth conference. One might think that the positive response we received was due to the beautiful Celtic music and choruses that were performed or the inspiring projections of sacred images that accompanied the service. Yet for many, it was the four minutes of silent prayer in the middle of the service that was to be the most profound part of the experience. That’s right, four minutes of uninterrupted, absolute silence with the only sound being the air moving through the center’s air ducts. Many people I spoke with afterwards had never attended a worship service that gave such a priority to silent prayer, let alone being quiet with 8,000 other believers in Christ.

Our regular Selah service, like the Taizé model, normally includes ten minutes of silent prayer. It is just one of many examples of how Christian churches and groups are reclaiming the stillness in their expression of faith. To borrow a new phrase, “Quiet is the new loud.” Embracing more contemplation in our worship offers some positive contributions for churches struggling with just what worship is to be.

Indeed, the very word worship is used so often to describe so many different things in the Christian subculture that I believe it has completely lost it’s salt. Perhaps the clarity of thought and content such as Psalm 46 will help get us back to a clearer understanding of what it is to worship.

Psalm 46:4-7
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


Notice here that first and foremost, there is a “remembering” of who God is – the Creator and giver of all life. For all of the writers of the Psalms, worship is about remembering. It is remembering who God is and, equally important, who we are as His created beings. David, in Psalm 103, succinctly portrays this notion when he writes:

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
(vs. 15-16)

He then follows this sobering statement with these contrasting words of hope rooted in God’s eternal nature:

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
(vs. 17-19):

It is this remembering that gives us the hope that God can be trusted to watch over every detail of our existence. Our only logical response to this wonderful reality is to bow before Him in worship and gratitude. This way of blessing God might be expressed by raising “a loud shout to the rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1) or it may equally and most profoundly be expressed in just being still before Him…

Psalm 46:8-11
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


At what point in the ongoing discussion about prayer and worship did we decide that contemplation and meditation were bad words? It arises from a legitimate concern over the New Age movement defining these terms as techniques that take oneself outside the realm of the mind into a what is presupposed as a more potent and yet completely subjective understanding of truth.

In the Psalms we find an alternative model of seeking the truth through a different kind of contemplation and meditation than that offered by New Age philosophy. Its practice begins in our God-given minds as we humbly come before Him remembering His past works and faithfulness in our lives. From the reassurance derived from this process of believing and God’s choosing to be merciful, we experience what it means to have faith and hope.

As I think of this, I am reminded again of the weary and faith-drained Elijah when he found himself at his wits end hiding from Jezebel on Mount Horeb (I Kings 19). Significantly, it was not in the strong wind or earthquake or fire that God revealed Himself, but rather it was in the thin silence that the prophet finally heard God’s reassuring voice.

In conclusion, what better context could there be in which to pray and wait upon the Lord than in the community of other believers in prayer and stillness? And we might also consider, as we open our church doors to those outside the faith, what an impact this oasis of quiet might have, by God’s willing spirit, on hearts and minds battered and overwhelmed by the din of our modern culture which forever seeks to quell that still small voice.

-This article originally appeared in Youthworker Magazine.


A common thread in many of Jeff Johnson’s numerous projects is “the journey.” I have often found myself mesmerized by the rich tapestries of keyboards, flute and violin woven together with the elegance of Celtic filigree, sometimes blended with moving vocals characterizing the thoughts of the sojourner. Many times I’ve been carried to a place of prayer and the presence of God through the music of Jeff Johnson, together with fellow musicians Brian Dunning, John Fitzpatrick and others. The journey has always been a good one, with many expressions, much like life itself.

In his own life-journeys, Jeff has been moving musically in more of a contemplative stream of expression in worship which often seems to transcend age barriers and religious walls. Certainly amid the hectic pace of living in this century, our hearts cry out for a quiet place to rest in God. The writers of the Psalms knew this even thousands of years ago as they included in their text; “selah” – pause and calmly think of that.

Aimee Herd: For at least the last 10 years you have collaborated with Brian Dunning and other respected musicians in producing well-loved music with a contemporary Celtic flavor, many times following themes of historical characters. Most recently you have delved into more of a journey of “original devotion” with “Benediction” and “Vespers,” even taking part in Selah and Taizé services. What is it that began to draw you in this direction? What are some of the things you appreciate most about a Selah type of service?

Jeff Johnson: My music has always been born from a kind of “contemplative” perspective and process. My creative work has always attempted to integrate the subjects and ideas that I’ve been contemplating at the time with my Christian faith and worldview. Whether those projects were distributed by Sparrow or Windham Hill, the work has always originated from a passion to be true as an artist and a Christian. “Benediction” and “Vespers” came out of my involvement with a contemplative worship service that I helped begin about six years ago with friends, Kathy & David Hastings. We had a desire to integrate music, prayer and silence with our various artistic disciplines having been inspired by the model of the Taizé worship service. We called this service “Selah” after the Psalms reference to pause or rest.

The Selah service puts a great trust in the power of silence and communal prayer and singing. A typical service will include singing choruses and hymns, instrumental passages often combined with readings from the Psalms or Christian Celtic traditions (ie: St. Patrick, etc.) along with an extended period of silent prayer. I personally prefer this kind of worship since it tends to be less centered on those who are leading and requires a very tangible response from within our minds and hearts. My observation is that much of our contemporary forms of worship today, while very celebratory and inspirational, treats the congregation more as observers rather than participants. The Selah service is just one of many expressions of worship that is emerging particularly in the Protestant church that represents a return to the church’s rich heritage of liturgy and community based prayer and singing.

AH: You’ve become very involved with the youth, leading worship and Selah for “Youth Specialties” events…with a movement among young people towards a more contemplative worship at times, does this surprise you?

JJ: Well, I’m not really sure if we can say whether there is a great move towards contemplative type worship among the youth yet. I’ve had people who study this tell me that it’s not a strong movement amongst youth in the North American church. My observation is that there is indeed a tremendous groundswell of this form of worship going on in the church but it’s not an age-driven thing. That is its strength really. At a moment when you have many churches struggling with what style of worship service to be offering their congregations, this format seems to cut across the age boundaries and offer something for everyone. There’s no question that many young people are expressing themselves together using contemplative based forms, but I think that’s more representative of a desire to return to some of the basic roots of the Christian church as they were established for hundreds of years.

Having grown up in a Baptist tradition that actually incorporated a fair bit of liturgical form in their worship, I had no appreciation for any of this when I was younger. Ironically, that same Baptist church’s service looks nothing like it did when I was a kid. It’s all very contemporary and casual now reflecting the “seeker friendly” model that many churches have adapted. And, much good has come from this approach. Yet, we lost something very important in the switch and we’re now discovering that we may just want some of that back!

Further more, Protestants have such a great tradition in Biblical study. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox congregations in North America are only recently catching up to us on this. Yet, what the Catholics and Orthodox have in spades is this rich heritage of liturgy and symbol – expressions, when married with a deep Biblical understanding, lead to a rich form of worship together. Particularly when it’s in the context of real community and congregational participation. One thing is certain amongst the youth movement and that is a desire for a greater experience of community. Contemplative worship thrives within that context.

AH: Recently some of the Selah services you’ve led for Youth Specialties events have been followed by the worship leading of the David Crowder Band . . . what kind of a mix has that been?

JJ: It was a real treat for me to get to know David and his band these past couple of years performing at the YS National Youthworkers conventions. They’re wonderful folks and I love their music. Both the modern worship and the contemplative worship have a great energy and spirit at their core. The two compliment and contrast with one another. This is the way music in the Church should be. As a believer, I would never want to only experience a singular diet of contemplative based worship. Fellowship thrives on the variety of the Body of Christ. And, I believe at the core of our experience of Christian faith there needs to be a deepening theology that reflects an understanding of what it is we believe. Any kind of worship without that will soon drift off into an emphasis on experience and practice that may have nothing to do with the Gospel. This is the great challenge for anyone who sets out to lead worship. We need to always be asking ourselves just who we are leading people to worship?

AH: Describe a night of Selah worship, or a Vespers concert . . . what could someone who attends expect?

JJ: The space and the way things have been set up can greatly inspire and put people in a frame of mind that is conducive to silence and prayer. Candlelit always helps and I prefer a chair set up that is somewhat circular when possible. I like to lead from within the congregational circle and the readers sit wherever they sit and read from those places. A simple cross or some other appropriate Christian symbol is often set in the center as the focal point. I don’t like projected lyrics but rather will hand out a sheet which contains all of the lyrics of the songs that we’ll be singing.

The music sets the tone of course, as does the pauses between the songs and the readings. As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’ll sing choruses from the Taizé tradition as well as the Iona community and of course a hymn or two. I may play an instrumental passage that then leads into a reading, then more choruses. Everything leads up to the time of silent prayer which normally lasts for about 10 minutes. Then, another instrumental passage and some ending choruses, a benediction and it’s over. It’s so simple, really. And, I’ve taken the same approach with small groups of folks in a large living room and 8,000 people in the Gaylord Entertainment Center in downtown Nashville! And in both circumstances, it’s that silent prayer together that is the most profound.

AH: Let’s face it, often people are frightened by what they don’t understand. Some have voiced a bit of fear over the meditative and contemplative type of prayer and worship which sometimes accompany a Selah worship service. Can you speak to those questions that some may have?

JJ: I completely understand some people’s hesitation about this issue. As a musician that has had much of his music labeled “new age” throughout the years, I’m quite aware of the importance of defining terms! Yet, the bottom line is that there is a rich heritage of contemplation, meditation and the practice of silence in church history originating in the Psalms and the early forms of monasticism. And I would argue that one needn’t become a monk or a nun to benefit from the practices of prayer and quiet with one another before our Lord. Prayer is about remembering who God is and who we are. It’s about listening to our hearts and to the voice of God as He speaks to us through His word. What better way to do that than with one another in song and silence?

Of course, if you’re going to say that unless you practice worship this way you won’t experience true spirituality, then you’ve taken a perspective that is as dangerous as that taken by the Pharisees of Christ’s day. The fact that we can even claim to be spiritual at all is completely dependent on God’s grace in our lives. True worship takes place in the heart and has nothing to do with the practice of worship. Yet, when we come together in prayer and song inspired by the reality of God working in our hearts, that can be exciting and wonderful indeed.

This interview is derived from an article that originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Worship Musician magazine. We appreciate WM letting us reproduce it.

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church ~ June 21, 2009

From ANGEL OF THE DAWN ©Michael O’Brien
http://www.studiobrien.com (Used with permission)

PSALMUS THEME (Instrumental)
© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs

☩Hymn by Van Dyke & Beethoven /Public Domain
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heaven reflect thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our brother, all who live in love are thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began;
Love divine is reigning o’er us, binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward, in the triumph song of life.

© Brian Moss/Parson John Publishing
He is the King of all truth,
Paying the high cost of grace.
His kingdom is not of this world,
See how He’s taken our place.

Reader 1
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright.
Praise the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

Reader 2
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

Reader 1
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

Reader 2
The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth—
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.

Reader 1
Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.

Reader 2
Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
Bless the Lord, my soul,
And bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, my soul,
Who leads me into life.

REMEMBER (All sing)
© Brian Moss/Parson John Publishing
Remember the body, remember the blood,
Remember the grace divine.
Remember the Father, remember the Son,
His Spirit is with us.

☩Shaker Spiritual/Public Domain
Love is little, love is low,
Love will make my spirit grow,
Grow in peace, grow in light,
Love will do the thing that’s right.

☩Attributed to Columba of Iona
Almighty God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
to me the least of saints,
to me allow that I may keep even the smallest door,
the farthest, darkest, coldest door,
the door that is least used, the stiffest door.
If only it be in Your house, O God,
that I can see Your glory even afar,
and hear Your voice,
and know that I am with You, O God.

DOXOLOGY (All sing)
☩Hymn by Bourgeois & Ken/Public Domain
All praise to thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, oh keep me, King of Kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.Amen.

COME HOLY SPIRIT (All sing echoing Jeff)
©John Bell/Wild Goose Publishing
Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, Come.

☩Hymn by Hatch & Jackson/Public Domain
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Stephen, The Greek

☩By Robert Siegel from A PENTECOST OF FINCHES – New & Selected Poems
Always there was something at the edge of his eye,
a whiteness, a light trying to break through.
It had led him to Jerusalem a number of times,
this god none could see because too close to view–

the one the poets described, as he had read,
“In him we live and move and have our being.”
But he was frustrated, for an inner voice said,
“Spirit is invisible, yet seeing is believing.”

Then he met the twelve and all slowly changed:
what Stephen saw was showing in his face
and shone through the witness that he gave
to the council, which sat astonished in that place

and ground their teeth and rushed him, unable to forgive
him for saying that he saw what none can see and live.

© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.

The Lord is my song,
The Lord is my praise:
All my hope comes from God.
The Lord is my song,
The Lord is my praise:
God, the well-spring of life.

SILENT PRAYER (10 minutes)

©Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs

☩Attributed to Patrick of Ireland
Today I shield myself with God’s power to direct me,
God’s strength to uphold me.
God’s good sense to guide me,
God’s ear to listen for me.

God’s speaking to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me.
God’s path opening before me,
God’s shield to protect me.
From the snares of demons,
The inducements of my own vices.
The proclivities of human nature,
And those who wish me evil.

I summon these powers to come
between me and every cruel and merciless power
that threatens my body and my soul.

Christ be my protection today
against violence,
against illness,
against drowning,
against mortal wounding,
so that I may come to my ultimate reward.

Christ be with me
Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
Christ be inside me,
Christ be beneath me,
Christ be above me,

Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left hand,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I rise up,

Christ all around me.

Christ in the heart of everyone who beholds me;
Christ in every eye that sees me;
and Christ in every ear that hears me.

© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I rise.
Christ in my journey,
Christ in my heart.

Christ go before me,
Christ be my shield.
Christ deep within me,
Christ in my heart.

© Jonathan Eck
Glory be to the Father and to the Son,
And to the Holy Ghost!
As it was in the beginning,
Is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen. Amen.

Come Father of the poor,
Come Light of our hearts,
Come generous Spirit,
By the glory of your creation around us,
By the comfort of your forgiveness within us,
By the wind of your Spirit eddyng through our lives
and through the fifty years of prayer and worship in this place,
May we now go into the evening renewed in our faith –
with glad, sincere and grateful hearts. Amen.

© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
May your heart find grace,
May your soul know peace,
May your mind be renewed.

And may your eyes see the light,
Many your ears hear the glory,
Of Jesus Christ in our midst.

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church ~ February 15, 2009

PRAYER ©Michael O’Brien
http://www.studiobrien.com (Used with permission)

Service note: There is rich tradition in the Anglican church of prayer for physical and spiritual healing. This service offered prayer and anointing during the time of Silent Prayer by our priest. Normally, we don’t have any speaking or introduction at the beginning of the service but there was a brief introduction about how the prayer and anointing would work. Many people came forward and participated in this while the rest of the congregation continued in both personal prayer and songs of prayer which I led interspersed with with instrumental passages, solo chant and silence. – JJ

DOMUS ECCLESIA (Instrumental prelude)
© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs


ENCOMPASSER (Solo chant)
© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
Son of Mary, my helper,
Son of David, my strength,
Lord of Angels encircle me,
Through the light and the dark.

COME & PRAY IN US (All sing)
© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
Come and pray in us, Holy Spirit,
Come and pray in us.
Come and visit us, Holy Spirit,
Sprit come, Spirit come.

-Book of Common Prayer (BCP)
O God, the source of all health. Fill our hearts with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy this night we may make room for your power to possess us, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
Gloria to the Father,
Gloria to the Son,
Gloria to the Spirit,
Gloria, Three in One.

Gloria in beginnings,
Gloria to the end,
Gloria now, forever,
Gloria. Amen.

DON’T BE AFRAID (All sing)
©John Bell/Wild Goose Publishing
Don’t be afraid,
My love is stronger,
My love is stronger than your fear.

Don’t be afraid,
My love is stronger,
For I have promised,
Promised to be always near.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

GREATER (All sing)
© Brian Moss/Parson John Publishing
Father become greater, greater,
So we become less.
You are the King of all that is holy.

Jesus become greater, greater,
So we become less.
You are the Way of all that is worthy.

Spirit become greater, greater,
So we become less.
You are the breath of all that is living.

© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
The Lord is my light,
My light and salvation:
In God I trust, in God I trust.

PSALM 145:14-21
The Lord sustains all who fall,
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to Thee,
And Thou dost give them their food in due time.
Thou dost open Thy hand,
And dost satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways,
And kind in all His deeds.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.

The Lord keeps all who love Him;
But all the wicked, He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord;
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.

The Lord is my song,
The Lord is my praise:
All my hope comes from God.
The Lord is my song,
The Lord is my praise:
God, the well-spring of life.

© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
Our eyes are turned to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our eyes are turned to the Lord God, our Savior.

PSALM 63:1-8
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.


© Taizé Community/GIA Publishing
Lord God, you love us,
source of compassion

CIRCLE ME (Solo chant)
© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
Circle me, O God, let Your arms enfold me,
Circle me, O God,  let Your love surround.
Circle me, O God, let Your light shine brightly,
Circle me, Circle me, O God.

Circle me, O God, when I’m weak and weary,
Circle me, O God, when despair is near.
Circle me, O God, let Your peace surround me,
Circle me, Circle me, O God.

Circle me, O God, when I’m tired and restless,
Circle me, O God, be my hope, my strength.
Circle me, O God, let Your presence guide me,
Circle me, Circle me, O God.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY! (All sing)
☩Hymn by Heber & Dykes /Public Domain
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy, All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns a round the glassy sea;
Cherubin and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy,though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy, there is none beside thee,
Perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!


Tomorrow will be another day, O Lord. We know not what it will bring forth, but make us ready for whatever it may be. If we are to stand up, help us to stand bravely. If we are to sit still, help us to sit quietly. If we are to lie low, help us to do it patiently. And if we are to do nothing, let us do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give us the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

© Jeff Johnson/Sola Scriptura Songs
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I rise.
Christ in my journey,
Christ in my heart.

Christ go before me,
Christ be my shield.
Christ deep within me,
Christ in my heart.

May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.