Epiphany Planning For Worship Leaders, Songwriters, Communicators

by Bobby Gilles

in Worship Leading

Workshop of Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) The Feast of the Epiphany, c. 1639-1640 oil on canvas

Workshop of Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) The Feast of the Epiphany, c. 1639-1640 oil on canvas

You Know About Christian Year Seasons Like Advent & Lent, But What About Epiphany?
The Christian Year is a tool for preaching the gospel to yourself, your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and church congregation.

Epiphany: “manifestation” or “appearance.”

The Christian Church observes a day of Epiphany to commemorate the revelation of the Christ-child in connection with the visit of the Magi (wise men, “three kings”). Epiphany traditionally occurs on January 6 (at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas). In practice, many churches celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday closest to this date rather than hold a special service on another day of the week.

What About Churches That Treat Epiphany As A Whole Season In The Christian Liturgical Calendar?

Photo of The Epiphany Chapel - Winchester Cathedral, taken by Jim Linwood

The Epiphany Chapel - Winchester Cathedral

Nothing wrong with that. Whether you have an Epiphany “season,” or a single service, this is a time when church pastors and worship planners highlight the revelation of Jesus’ person and his mission during his first Advent. Epiphany worship liturgies teach and celebrate:

  • the parables of Jesus
  • the sermons and other illustrations of Jesus
  • the miracles of Jesus
  • the prophecies of Jesus

Chronologically, it makes sense to celebrate Epiphany after Christmas and prior to Lent, the period of lament, reflection and confession leading to our need for a sacrifice, and Christ’s perfect satisfaction of that need.

What kinds of songs work well for Epiphany?
“How Suddenly A Baby Cries” by Keith & Kristyn Getty is not only a solid modern hymn for Advent and Christmas, but Epiphany as well. You can learn about it, read the text and hear their song right here on My Song In The Night.

Kristen and I also recommend “Savior King” from our church Sojourn, written by our friends Joel Gerdis, Dave Moisan and Eddy Morris, adapted from “Hymn 10” by Isaac Watts. This comes from Sojourn Music’s album Over The Grave: The Hymns Of Isaac Watts, Volume One. Hear it in its entirety below:

Songwriters, use Epiphany as an opportunity to broaden the thematic range of your worship songs and modern hymns. Many contemporary praise and worship songwriters dwell on themes such as Common Grace, God’s sovereignty over creation, and the singer’s love for Jesus. But fewer writers compose songs that celebrate or reveal Jesus as Messiah. You can do so by using Old Testament prophecies in your songs (as in “Savior King”) or by writing ballads on the life and earthly ministry of Christ. The Gospels provide so much material — explore!

What Bible Verses Work Well In Epiphany Worship Service Liturgical Readings And Home Devotionals?
The Worship Sourcebook recommends these key passages:

  • Psalm 72
  • Isaiah 49:5-7 and Isaiah 60
  • Matthew 2:1-12
  • Luke 13:22-30
  • John 8:12
  • Romans 15:5-13
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • Revelation 21:22-26
And The Worship Sourcebook also has many sample prayers and readings for Epiphany, from the Call To Worship through Communion readings and the Benediction.

Photo of the Epiphany Chapel by Jim Linwood, through Creative Commons license 

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