Sursum Corda (Latin) means: “Lift up your hearts.” In the past, our corporate worship service started with the words: “Congregation, LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS TO THE LORD and confess together.” We have replaced that call of all times and places with the question: “Where does our help come from?”
The Sursum Corda is fitting for the worship service because it captures the biblical idea of worship being an ascent into God’s presence. Dr. Daniel Hyde writes:
“Sursum Corda are some of the most beautiful, heart-moving words in all of worship. They express the longing of the soul in this sin-torn world for the wholeness of the new heaven and the new earth. They acknowledge that worship is no banal experience, but a heavenly one.”
Sursum Corda is Scriptural (Ps. 25:1; 86:4; 143:8; Lam. 3:41) and used by the early church until today.
Sursum Corda emphasizes the transcendence of God and the experience of worship. Therefore, our prayer must participate in that transcendence. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches this in Q&A 121:
The Apostle John is in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and lifted up into heavenly worship (Rev. 1). In worship, we are spiritually seated in the presence of Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). We worship in the presence of the angels (Hebr. 12:22-24; 1 Cor. 11:10). We gather in faith in the presence of the risen Christ who is present through the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, it is appropriate to be called into worship with Sursum Corda: “Lift up your hearts unto the Lord.” Our hearts and minds go up; we transcend in worship. Dr. Hyde concludes:
“We have been invited into God’s presence by God himself! Our only proper response is to enter that sacred presence. Upon calling out, “Lift up your hearts,” earth-bound, sin-bound creatures cross the holy chasm of time into eternity with the exuberant cry, “We lift them up to the Lord!”
If your church does not use Sursum Corda at the start of corporate worship, make sure you lift up your heart and transcend in the awareness and reality of the presence of the heavenly Zion and thousands of angels every Sunday again!