Elements of Worship: Baptism
Baptism is interesting when it comes to music in the modern church. There are almost no modern worship songs about baptism. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, as almost all modern worship music written in the past three decades come from churches that baptize older children and adults.
In churches that baptize adults and older children, they view baptism as a testimony – remembering God’s faithfulness, forgiveness and grace – or as a commitment or dedication on the part of the baptized. Music in these cases focuses on themes of God’s grace, forgiveness, and steadfast love.
In churches that baptize infants, there are few songs from any era that directly address baptism. Even in the new Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (2006), there are only four directly about baptism. (There are 11 under the category of Baptismal Life, though several of these merely mention baptism in one verse and are more directed at life in Christ.)
So what’s a modern church to do?
While there might not be many modern worship songs written directly about baptism, there are many that focus on the themes of baptism. And don’t forget those baptism hymns, too. They can be reworked or rearranged to fit a band-led style.
Along with music, it’s certainly appropriate to use scripture, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer either together or in combination.
Appropriate scriptures include:
- John 1:12-13: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
- Acts 2:38-39: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
- Romans 6:3-4: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-13: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
What have you used?
What songs, resources and tools have you used for baptisms? Share them in the comments!
Looking for other resources?
Find more Modern Worship resources for other elements of worship here.