The Rev. E. E. Hale lectured yesterday afternoon in Divinity Chapel on the "Ritual of Congregational Churches."
He spoke first of the position of the minister with respect to his congregation, his position as leader in hospitality, education, charity, and above all in worship, for without public worship no congregation could be assembled. Among all the responsibilities which a minister assumes, the ritual is of the first importance. The great variety in ritual is of primary assistance to him in making that of his own church the broadest and most appropriate.
Church service generally begins with a voluntary which should not be regarded as preliminary to the service but as an essential part of it. This is followed by some expression of union in God, which is in turn followed by a hymn of gratitude, often substituted for the psalm of the English service. In choosing the psalm that one should be selected which best expresses the reigning sense of the day. The minister's duty is to teach to the people something of the present will and way of God that they may the better perform their duty.
The next feature of importance in the ritual is the reading of the Scriptures which probably gives to many persons of cultivation the only knowledge which they possess of the Bible. In his sermon the minister should be careful not to express ideas which challenge direct comparison with the theories of such world-leaders as St. John and St. Paul. The lifting of the voice in prayer is the last and most important feature of the ritual. The object of the service is to bring the congregation in touch with the spirit of the God who presides over them and the minister can best do this by expressing the common needs of those before him in the simplest possible words. No man puts words to a better use than he who in the simplicity of prayer leads others as children to the worship of God.