Liturgy and Worship

In 1986, the General Synod of the Church of Sweden adopted a new order of worship, a new lectionary, and a new hymnal. It is characterized by more active congregational participation, greater choice in shaping worship, and a richer eucharistic liturgy.

Compared with earlier versions, the current hymnal is markedly international and ecumenical. Of its 700 selections, the first 325 are common to hymn books used by 14 other Swedish denominations.

About baptism

Baptism is a sacrament, which means that it is a holy act, instituted by Jesus Christ. Baptism is always administered by water and in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

By earthly means, human beings made partakers of the Kingdom of God. Through this new birth, the human being is taken out of the context of sin and death and is united with Jesus Christ in order to share with him and his people in the life of the cross and the resurrection.

Baptism is an act once and for all, through which God incorporates the human being into his fellowship and brings her into his church and congregation. Therefore baptism normally takes place in connection with the corporate service of the parish.
At the same time baptism is significant for the entire journey of life: anyone who is baptised may live every day in his or her baptism and go from death to life, from bondage to freedom. In baptism human beings are made partakers of God's grace, a grace that lives in him or her throughout life and death.

The mission of the church is to ensure that the offer of baptism reaches all people. Children as well as young people and adults can receive baptism. It is the task of the parish to ensure that teaching about baptism takes place.

Godparents / sponsors can also be appointed in order to take special responsibility together with the relatives for the nurture of the person baptised as a human being and as a Christian. Baptism may later be confirmed in the community of the congregation, at a service of confirmation and at other services that includes a focus on baptism.

Basic regulations

Baptism shall be administered in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit by pure water through aspersion or immersion.

The Church of Sweden acknowledges every baptism that has taken place according to this order.

Outline of the Rite for the Baptism of Children

Introduction and prayer of thanksgiving
Gospel reading
Prayer of deliverance
Bible reading
Baptismal prayer
Act of baptism
Lord's Prayer

On the theological level, the Church of Sweden has always maintained a classical view of baptism. Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, means that the individual is incorporated into the church. Baptism means participation in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Increasingly, the priest has an appointment with the parents before baptism to discuss its significance. Baptized children have the right to receive holy communion.

About confirmation

Confirmation by a bishop, the custom during the Middle Ages, became obsolescent during the Swedish Reformation. It was replaced by an examination and confession before first communion. (Already during the Middle Ages, the great size of Swedish dioceses meant confirmation was often neglected, as bishops' visits to many areas were infrequent.)

During the 18th century, confirmation became an affirmation of the baptism made by the adult believer. In the 19th century, confirmation became more widespread, serving as a sort of rite de passage from childhood to adulthood.

Today, confirmation is preceded by a one-year teaching period. Part of the teaching can be arranged at camps, all over the country. There has been an intensive debate on which teaching methods should be used in confirmation preparation. Priests officiate at confirmation; other people may serve as confirmation instructors.

The confirmation liturgy, which recalls the confirmands' baptism, includes a review of Christian teaching, the Apostles' Creed, prayer and the imposition of hands, and a sending forth. The focus is the prayer and laying on of hands: ”May the good Spirit of God be upon you, now and forever.”

About marriage

Marriage as an institution has a relatively strong position in Sweden. Most Swedish marriages take place in the Church of Sweden. The number of divorces has increased in recent decades. The Church of Sweden allows people to enter a new marriage after a divorce, without any particular conditions.

To a great extent, a church marriage ceremony in Sweden remains a communal celebration for family and friends, though a tendency towards privatization is perceptible.

About eucharist

The Swedish Reformation was liturgically conservative. The traditional order of the mass and liturgical vestments were retained. In the Church Ordinance of 1571, Archbishop Laurentius Petri wrote:

”We use vestments, altar and altar cloths, chalice and paten, etc. We have no hesitation in calling the Lord's Supper the mass. Nor is it forbidden to call this sacrament a sacrifice, as that sacrifice which our high priest Christ himself once made on the cross is now made present in the mass.”

However, in later centuries, the liturgy underwent a process of reduction. Certain parts of the mass (for instance the Gloria in Excelsis) were regularly omitted.

During the 20th century, this trend was halted, and liturgical renewal commenced. It has become increasingly common for mass to be cel-ebrated not only on Sundays, but also on certain weekdays.

Order for eucharist in the Church of Sweden

An outline of the order for eucharist in the Church of Sweden follows, including one of the several possible eucharistic prayers. Hymns would normally be sung at several points.
The Preparation
Confession and Absolution
The Ministry of the Word
Lessons (Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel)
The Ministry of the Sacrament
Eucharistic Prayer
Lord's Prayer
Breaking of the Bread
Agnus Dei
Prayer (Post Communion)