Modern Language Version
Second Edition 1998
The Directory of Worship for the Reformed Church in the United States: Modern English Version Copyright © 1998 by the Synod of the Reformed Church in the U.S. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address the Reformed Church in the U.S., P.O. Box 486, Eureka, SD 57437.
The first edition of this Reformed Directory of Worship was published by the Eureka Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States in 1970. This second edition is being published by the Synod of the Reformed Church in the U.S. which was constituted out of the Eureka Classis in 1986. By that time the Eureka Classis had grown from a regional ecclesiastical assembly to embody churches all across the United States.
Although several noteworthy changes from the first edition appear in this second edition of the Directory, the purposes for it are much less fundamental and comprehensive than were those for the first edition of 1970. As can be seen from the preface to the first edition which appears below, it was designed to replace earlier directories which were not only no longer available, but which embodied a less than thoroughly Reformed and biblical theology and perspective on worship. The Directory of 1970 was then truly a first edition. It was a new Directory based on other Reformed sources.
The need for the first edition found its roots as far back as the middle of the 19th Century when the Reformed Church in the U.S. was wracked by a liturgical controversy brought on by the introduction of sacramentalist and other unreformed ideas into the worship of the Church by professors at its own seminary, Rev. Philip Schaaf and Dr. John Nevin. Since the seminary of the Reformed Church was then located at Mercersberg, PA, the theology created by these professors was called the “Mercersberg Theology,” a theology more compatible with Lutheran and Episcopalian teachings on the sacraments than with Reformed doctrine. Although there was great opposition in the Church to the Mercersberg Theology and the Provisional Directory of Worship which applied its principles to worship and sacraments, the Church eventually produced compromise directories which sought to mediate between Reformed and Mercersberg teachings.
It was to replace these mediating directories still in use that the Eureka Classis decided to produce a truly Reformed directory of worship. The 1970 Directory has been in use in our churches for over a quarter of a century. During this span of time certain deficiencies in the Directory have been noted, and accordingly, it was decided at the 1992 Synod meeting of the Reformed Church in the U.S. to appoint a committee to “study the Directory of Worship to update its language, (and) to update its forms with respect to content.” This committee was augmented at the 1993 meeting of Synod and instructed “to study the Directory of Worship to recommend changes it deems necessary to make the language understandable in the present culture,” (and to use biblical material quoted from the New King James Version in order to eliminate old English verb forms while retaining the flavor of the King James Version). This second edition of the Directory of Worship was declared fully adopted by the 1998 meeting of Synod, having been ratified by all of the Classes of the Reformed Church in the U.S. during the previous year. It is being published in a Traditional English Version as well as a Modern English Version.
As with the First Edition, the Reformed Church in the U.S. again acknowledges its indebtedness to other Reformed denominations for liturgical language, forms and style which we have freely incorporated into our Directory. In particular, we thank the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Canadian Reformed Churches and the Christian Reformed Church for their contributions. Our special thanks also to Rev. Robert Grossmann who did the computer typesetting for these directories.
The Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States sends forth this second edition of the Directory of Worship with the hope that it will help our congregations to worship our covenant Lord in spirit and in truth, in the beauty of holiness-the only worship acceptable to the God of the Bible.
Norman Jones, Norman Hoeflinger, Robert Grossmann, David Dawn, Marvin Olivier
This Reformed Directory of Worship represents a completely new work and is not a mere revision of the previous Directory. The Reformed Church in the United States in 1964 was convinced of the need of a new Directory and formed a special committee to produce one.
After four years of work by the committee and corrections by the Eureka Classis, the present edition is now the officially approved Directory. We prayerfully hope that these new liturgical forms will be found theologically accurate, spiritually profitable and aesthetically pleasing to the Reformed Church in her worship of God.
The reason the Reformed Church in the United States, Eureka Classis, authorized this new Directory was to comply with the Constitution of the Church which stipulates that the official liturgy of the Reformed Church in the United States is to be used in the administration of the sacraments and rites of the church (Articles 198, 199, 203, 208). Two drawbacks prevented even general compliance with this Constitutional requirement. First, the last official edition of the Directory of Worship of the Reformed Church in the United States (1926) was out of print and difficult to obtain. Second, the official edition of the Directory was theologically unacceptable, having been corrupted by unreformed views which had crept into the thinking of the church. Thus it was essential that a new Directory of Worship be compiled.
The Committee wishes to emphasize that this work is indeed a compilation rather than an original composition; the latter procedure would have been both unnecessary and presumptuous. Our Reformed Directories of 1887 and 1926 provided the basic model for our work, but excellent sections from the Orthodox Presbyterian Directory of Worship were also incorporated with slight modifications in some instances. These sections are found in: The Nature of Public Worship, The Scriptural Elements of Public Worship, the Sacraments (Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), Profession of Faith, the Marriage Form, the Burial Service and the Dedication of a Church Building. We hereby express our thanks to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for these productions. To the Rev. Emil Buehrer we are indebted for his translation of the old German Reformed forms for the Ordination and Installation services, which we used extensively, and also for personally seeing this book through the preliminary and final printing.
May the Spirit of Christ be pleased to use this instrument to direct our Reformed Congregations in the public worship of the Triune God, that all parts of our service may be done decently and in order according to his truth. May God be glorified as His people regularly meet before His holy face.