HBC-EFC Combined Service Redux: 12 December 2010

Here’s the weekly recap of the Sunday service at my home church. This week we joined in worship with brothers and sisters from the Evangelical Formosan Church NZ (a Mandarin-speaking congregation) – naturally there was quite a different, yet immensely exciting feel to the day! I led the service, which was ably translated by Paul Young from EFC. Peter preached from Isaiah 52:7-10 on what the prophet announced as “good news”.

Order of Service

(if you click on each title, you’ll get a link to a video or resource related to that item)

Call to worship – reading from Romans 15:1-13. This passage covers both the fact that salvation will extend to all nations, and that it comes through the Jewish lineage as correctly predicted by the prophet Isaiah. Since it was a bilingual service, our reading was done in English, then Mandarin Chinese.

In fact, we sang all the worship songs in both English and Mandarin – the singers swapped between the two languages while the congregation was free to sing in the language they were most familiar with. It was quite a sound to hear the same song sung simultaneously in two different languages. A foretaste of Heaven!

1. O Come, All Ye Faithful/齊來,宗主信徒 – Frederik Oakley, John Wade.

Often these carols are so familiar that it’s tempting to revert to a tried-and-true arrangement (in most cases, 4-part keyboard and voice). We tried to give it a modern arrangement while keeping it as congregational as possible. The chord progressions from Third Day’s rendition were a great help, and helped lend some exuberance to the singing of words like these:

Word of the Father,

Now in flesh appearing;

O come, let us adore him,

O come, let us adore him,

O Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

2. Joy to the World – Isaac Watts, G.F. Handel.

This is a good carol as it not only rejoices in His arrival (verse 1), but also His atonement for our sins (verse 3), and His eventual return to reign (verse 4). There’s a number of carols that, although speak of good truths, end up leaving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the manger. Thankfully, this is not one of them!

HBC Item: Hide Away in the Love of Jesus – Steve and Vikki Cook. In the time of Christmas, we need reminding that not everyone is in a festive season of life. Some may have lost their jobs, some may be under trials, persecution, and other reasons. This song (along with many others on Sovereign Grace’s “Come Weary Saints” CD) has powerful words that point us, in our pain and our sorrow, to find our refuge in Jesus Christ:

Come, hopeless hearts, do not despair

Hide away in the love of Jesus

For ten thousand joys await you there

Hide away in the love of Jesus

One of the first things I noticed about this song was that it would work with Chinese instruments, because of its pentatonic melody. For our arrangement, we were blessed to have the addition of a guzheng, a Chinese zither. Due to our stage layout, most people didn’t see the instrument, but the harp-like sounds were absolutely serene and intertwined beautifully with the heartfelt singing from our soloist, Mana.

EFC Item: Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion/錫安的兒女快樂歡欣 – G.F. Handel. (from Handel’s “The Messiah”). The lyrics of this aria are straight from Zechariah 9:9 – one of the prophecies fulfilled by the coming of Christ. This was sung beautifully by the EFC soloist.

EFC Item: 普天下去傳福音 Go and make disciples of all nations. This was quite cool – they had a 20-strong choir. Maybe if the Lord wills, one day…

3. Hear I Am To Worship (Light of the World) / 世界的光 – Tim Hughes. For those who have turned away from their sin and put their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, the words from the bridge carry an extra depth of meaning:

I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Those redeemed by His atoning work on the cross will never know how much it cost: the judgement they deserved was poured out on Christ instead… what amazing grace!

4. How Great is Our God / 我主真偉大 – Chris Tomlin (Listen in Chinese).

Good News – Isaiah 52:7-10 (Peter Somervell, Paul Young) from Howick Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Communion: I Offer My Life / 主我獻上生命給你 – Don Moen (Listen to our arrangement of it in English/Chinese). This was a little scary, as I tried to sing the whole thing in Mandarin. But thanks to the Lord and His provision of Google translate (which now includes a “read phonetically” function – try it!), I think it went alright! Update: you can hear the whole thing here: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_6422830

Reciting the Apostles’ Creed. The EFC church do this every week, and it’s a great summary of the basics of the faith. We opted for the Lutheran version for English, so as not to stir anything up with the use of the phrase “the holy catholic church” from the original.

5. In Christ Alone / 耶穌是我唯一盼望 – Stuart Townend and Keith Getty (Listen in English |  listen in Chinese).


Some further thoughts:

  • If you’re interested, here’s the powerpoint presentation we used during the service. And here’s the lyrics sheet that Mana and I used: since we couldn’t read Chinese characters, we cheated and wrote the pinyin pronunciation next to each word!
  • It’s always helpful to make everything as clear as possible beforehand so there’s as little distraction as possible – even if it meant planning all the songs, verses/choruses, repeats, readings, thoughts beforehand.
  • Thanks to one of the members of EFC, we got a bit of a video team together to help film the service and the items. So there’ll be more video to come (once it’s edited!)


– William Chong