Lifting Up Our Hearts at the Table

At the beginning of our worship service, we recite a dialogue that has been a universal feature of Christian worship since at least the third century. It is known as the Sursum Corda, Latin for, “Lift up your hearts.”

By lifting our hearts to the Lord, we are acknowledging that here in this room we are participating in heavenly worship. In the Spirit, we are being lifted up into heavenly places, we are ascending with Christ to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God.

In the early Church, this call and response took place before the thanksgiving prayer at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. And the Reformers retained this practice, receiving it not as some vain Romish tradition, but rather as an edifying ancient practice certainly rooted in the commands of Scripture. 

It was particularly useful to the Reformers at this place in the liturgy, for it was a reminder to the people to fix their eyes not on the visible signs of the bread and wine, but on who they point to—our risen and exalted Lord seated at the right hand of the Father. 

Christ has ascended to His God and Father, and therefore when we meditate upon Him, He bids us to raise our minds on high and to seek Him in heaven. To “lift up our hearts” is to lay aside every weight, every earthly worry or concern, every carnal desire—and with the eyes of faith gaze upon Jesus Christ. 

As St Paul exhorted the Colossians, “If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on thing above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1–3). 

So with hearts lifted up—Come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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