At Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church, we value worship that is both ordered and inspiring; for that reason, we blend a historic Reformed liturgy and musical style with contemporary forms.
The following principles guide our worship.
- The correspondence principle. Our worship of God, including the music of worship, should correspond to God’s character. How we worship should reflect the kind of God he is.
- The holiness principle. Our worship of God should exhibit joyful reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28-29).
- The regulative principle. Our worship of God must conform to God’s own prescriptions for worship. We find these prescriptions in Scripture. An apt motto might be: “Read the Bible, preach the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, and see the Bible.”
Worship lyrics should be theologically sound, mature, and emotionaly balanced.
- Biblically and theologically sound. Songs containing errors about God and his attributes, his words of creation, providence, and redemption, have no place in worship that seeks to please him.
- Biblically and theologically mature. The grandeur of Reformed theology must be reinforced by maturity in song. Calvin wrote: “There must always by concern that the song be neither light nor frivolous but have gravity and majesty. . . . There is a great difference between the music which one makes to entertain men at table and in their homes and psalms which are sung in the church in the presence of God and his angels.”
- Emotionally balanced. There is a difference between emotion and emotionalism, and a strong emotional appeal in our music without accompanying theological content is manipulative.
The following criteria guide the selection of worship tunes:
- They should be well crafted (Psalm 33:3), blending melody, harmony, and rhythm in balanced proportions.
- They should be lovely (Philippians 4:8), exhibiting true beauty by reflecting the beauty of God (Psalms 27:4; 50:2; 96:6).
- They should be universal in their appeal. By this I mean that they should avoid narrow generational or cultural classification in the same way that psalms transcend sect, race, generation, and party. . . . The best tunes in our hymnals, Psalters, and songbooks do just this. Because they tap into universal aesthetic principles, they transcend the “cultural moment”—the time, place, and group out of which they have arisen—and appeal broadly. Whether our tunes have medieval Jewish, Greek, or Latin roots or arise out of the timeless European folk traditions or are of African, Asian, Latin American, or contemporary origins, they should appeal beyond the circumstances of their composition.
- They should be emotionally suited to the words. Centuries ago Augustine wrestled with the relationship between the words and the tune. He was eager in the first instance that the tune should never overpower the words. Indeed in his Confessions he labels it “a grievous sin” when he finds “the singing itself more moving than the truth which it conveys.” He also argued that the tune should fit the words, the sound correspond to the mood communicated by the words. Augustine’s view is that “there are particular modes in song and in the voice, corresponding to my various emotions and able stimulate them because of the mysterious relationship between the two.” The tunes should fit the words, matching their mood or tone.
- They sould be singable. That is, they should not be beyond the reach of the congregations. They should not be overly difficult because of complexity or what Witvliet calls “idiosyncratic rhythms.” Neither should they be comparatively trite, insulting the taste and ability of the congregation (what we might call the “Deep and Wide” phenomena). Again, wisdom is needed.
Order of Worship
The following Order of Worship is our guide:
Mission Statement Moment (Ministry/Maturity/Missions/etc. Moment)
God Calls Us to Worship
Call to Worship
Prayer of Adoration and Praise (Invocation)
God Cleanses Us from Sin
Call to Confession
Confession of Sin
Assurance of Forgiveness
Responsive Song of Thanksgiving and Praise
God Consecrates Us by His Word
Affirmation of Faith/Recitation of the Law
Song of Response
Scripture Reading (Reading through of the Bible)
Psalm (Usually sung)
Introduction of New Members
Sacrament of Baptism
The Prayer of the Church
Preparatory Song (Choir Anthem)
Children dismissed to Children’s Church after choir
God Communes with Us
God Commissions Us to Service