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.
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.
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
Prayer of deliverance
Act of baptism
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.
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.”
Marriage as an institution has a relatively strong position in Sweden. Most Swedish marriages take place in the Church of Sweden. A marriage must take place before witnesses and after the state has certified that they are legally free to marry. 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.
Funerals in church are for all members of the Church of Sweden. It is assumed that a person who has come out of the church does not want to have a church service, and the principle of giving preference to the will of the deceased means that this is the starting point whenever a church funeral is asked for. The service expresses the sorrow of the bereaved, the seriousness of death, but also the hope and promise of new life, trust in God's mercy and the proclamation of resurrection.
Since the Church of Sweden is responsible for almost all cemetaries, every parish has to provide a burial ground, access to cremation and a locale for a non-religious ceremony for those who wish it. There is no charge for the service itself but the undertaker's expenses have to be paid by the next-of-kin.
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 celebrated 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.
Confession and Absolution
The Ministry of the Word
Lessons (Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel)
The Ministry of the Sacrament
Breaking of the Bread
Prayer (Post Communion)