The Worship Quote of the Week for (01/30/2001):

What is a benediction? The word comes from the Latin word "benedicere,"
meaning "to speak well of"; "bene" is the adverb "well," and "dicere" is
the infinitive "to speak." Mr. Webster lists several definitions:

1) the act of blessing. 2) a blessing pronounced in
favor of any person or thing; a solemn invocation
of divine blessing, especially at the end of a
worship service. 3) a giving of thanks; grace.
4) blessedness.

Sadly, I think, many churches define benediction as "another closing prayer
at the end of the service just before the postlude." Today's WORSHIP QUOTE
is a good word about benedictions.

Giving a benediction at the end of the service of worship is one of the
oldest traditions of biblical worship. In the worship of the temple it was
one of the high points of the service. When the sacrifice had been made the
high priest would raise his hands in blessing and pronounce the Aaronic

The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make his face to shine upon
you, and be gracious to you:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon
you, and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-25

This form of prayer was already ancient when Jesus ben Sirach mentioned its
use (Sirach 45:15), and it was greatly beloved and a high point of the
synagogue liturgy, even in the days of Jesus.

- Hughes Oliphant Old, from LEADING IN PRAYER: A WORKBOOK FOR WORSHIP, Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995. p. 349.

[Actually, the above title is what is printed on the cover of the book, but
on the inside, the subtitle is A WORKBOOK FOR MINISTERS. Either way, this
volume is a tutorial in public prayer for anyone who is responsible for
leading God's people to the throne of grace. Highly recommended! Some of the
various sections of the book are The Invocation, Psalms as Prayer, Prayers of
Confession and Supplication, The Prayer of Illumination, Prayers of
Intercession, Communion Prayers, Prayers of Thanksgiving, Hymnody, and
Benedictions and Doxologies. The author writes, "The reason I have wanted to
publish these prayers is that I have found studying the prayers of other
ministers very helpful in my attempt to learn how to lead the congregation in
prayer. I have no objection if some other ministers were to use the prayers I
have written, but that is not what they were written for."]

Have a great week.
May the Lord bless you! (That's a benediction)

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky