Preparing for Worship - February 25, 2018

Join us as we continue in our series in Exodus. Here are the songs we'll sing together:

1. A SONG FOR THE SABBATH (PSALM 92)

Style - This is a contemporary tune done in a country style. It is mid-tempo, joyful, and full of energy.

Song Info - The lyrics of this song were penned by Isaac Watts in the eighteenth century as part of his attempt to Christianize the Psalter. What this meant what that he took the 150 Psalms, set them to meter and rhyme, and attempted to make allusions to Christ more clear and to add gospel language to the Psalms where appropriate. Psalm 92 is called in Scripture "A Song for the Sabbath", and so that is what it's called here. It is a Psalm of thanksgiving that focuses on giving thanks for the work of God. Verses 4-5 say:

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; 

at the works of your hands I sing for joy. 

How great are your works, O Lord! 

Your thoughts are very deep! 

This reminds us that the Sabbath is a time when we cease from our work in order to enjoy the work of God, to contemplate his works, and to allow him to continue to work in us. While we rest on the Sabbath, God is at work to preserve and perfect his people. These lyrics were set to music composed by Billy Otten, worship leader here at Faith Church.

Lead SheetAudio

2. BE THOU MY VISION

Style: We will sing a contemporary version of this hymn that will be very familiar. The version we're singing is likely the most commonly known version. It is low-tempo and contemplative.

Song Info: This is a traditional Irish hymn of unknown authorship that probably dates to the eighteenth century, though possibly comes from the sixteenth century. This hymn has been translated into dozens of languages in its lifetime and remains one of the most popular hymns ever written. The subject matter is certainly appropriate for this moment in worship. The song is about asking and allowing God to be our "all in all". As we sing, we ask God to be our vision, our wisdom, our shield, our treasure, and our comfort. That we would ascribe all glory to God, look to him for all our needs, and find all of our desires fulfilled in him is the true heart of worship.

Lead SheetAudio

3. GOOD SHEPHERD OF MY SOUL

Style: This is a contemporary hymn played in a celtic-folk style. It is mid-tempo and prayerful.

Song Info: This song comes to us from Stuart Townend, Keith and Kristin Getty, and Fionan de Barra. It is a prayer that Christ would dwell within us, transform our lives, and mold us into Christ-likeness. It especially reflects on the difficulty of this journey living in a fallen world. My favorite line is this:

I’ll walk this narrow road
With Christ before me,
Where thorns and thistles grow
And cords ensnare me.
Though doubted and denied,
He never leaves my side,
But lifts my head and calls me to follow.

"Thorns and thistles" is a reference to the fallen world in which we live. We walk with Christ on a narrow road in a land of thorns and thistles. The way of the Christian is difficult. But the good news is that we walk with Christ. Though we doubt him, deny him, and fail him countless times he is always with us, lifting us up and calling us anew to continue following him.

"for the righteous falls seven times and rises again..." (Proverbs 24:16)

"Seven times" indicates completion. Our failure and our sin is complete. It couldn't get any more sinful. Yet because of the presence of Christ with us we rise again and continue on the way. We cannot help but do so thanks to his grace.

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4. NOT WHAT MY HANDS HAVE DONE

Style: This is a traditional hymn from the nineteenth century which is low tempo, somber, yet joyful.

Song Info: This classic hymn was penned by Horatius Bonar and its tune was composed by George William Martin in the nineteenth century. Bonar, an ordained Scottish minister, wrote more than 300 hymns during his lifetime. He has been called "The Prince of Scottish Hymn Writers". The subject matter of this hymn focuses on Christ alone as the source of salvation.

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5. LO HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING

Style: We will play this in its traditional version. It is up tempo and joyful.

Song Info: This hymn was one of the many famous (and forgotten) hymns of Charles Wesley. Inspired by Revelation 1:7, John 20:24-31, Revelation 22:20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, this hymn is about an eager anticipation of the return of Christ. Sometimes it is sung as an Advent hymn because of its focus on the coming of Christ. But it is appropriate for all seasons. The church should sing "O Come Quickly!" as she thinks about her long sojourn on earth in this age. This hymn helps us to not be too closely attached to this world and to eagerly anticipate the coming of the kingdom of God in glory.

Sheet MusicAudio

See you Sunday!

Preparing for Worship - February 18, 2018

Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series in Exodus. Currently we are in Exodus 9 and in the midst of the plagues in Egypt. Here are the songs we'll sing together:

1. GOD ALL NATURE SINGS THY GLORY

Style: This song is set to the tune of the familiar "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" and "Ode To Joy". We will play the traditional melody with a mid-tempo. The style is traditional and joyful.

Song Info: The melody to this song goes all the way back to Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" found in his Symphony No. 9. It has been adapted multiple times for hymns and even secular music. The most famous adaptation is probably "Hymn to Joy" penned at the turn of the 20th century. The lyrics to this particular version are considered by many to be a significant advancement in terms of communicating biblical truth. They were written by David Clowney in 1960. David Clowney was the son of the great Edmund Clowney who served as a presbyterian minister, theologian, and president of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.

This song fits well as a call to worship because it focuses on themes of God's glory seen in creation: "God all nature sings thy glory and thy works proclaim thy might/ ordered vastness in the heavens, ordered course of day and night". You can tell that the hymn writer was presbyterian by the emphasis on "order" (little joke). The hymn then turns to man's dignity - not a subject often taken up in worship music. "Clearer still we see thy hand in man whom thou hast made for thee/ ruler of creation's glory, image of thy majesty." It is right to praise God for his works and for creating us in his image before we meditate upon our sinful condition.

Sheet MusicAudio

2. 10,000 REASONS (BLESS THE LORD, O MY SOUL)

Style: This is a contemporary song that is done mid-tempo. It's done in fairly typical CCM style though it has some unique virtues that make it more memorable and singable than most.

Song Info: This was was written and produced by Matt Redman and released in 2012. Since then it's enjoyed great popularity in the western church - even reaching #1 on the American Billboard charts for Christian music. This song, like many enduring worship songs, is based on one of the Psalms - Psalm 103 to be exact. In that Psalm, David is commanding himself to forget not all the benefits of the Lord. He is commanding himself to remember all the reasons why God is worthy of worship. This reveals something about our tendency to forget our need for God and the goodness of God. In a world of distractions our attention spans and memory are tragically short. So we must, like David, command ourselves to bless the Lord and forget not his benefits.

Sheet MusicAudio

3. SPEAK, O LORD

Style: This is a contemporary song done in a low-tempo and contemplative tone.

Song Info: This is another modern hymn written by Stuart Townend and the Gettys. Their mission in hymn-writing, it seems, is to write modern hymns that are musically excellent and maintain the integrity and theological depth of the famous hymns of the past. And they have been very successful in this endeavor. We sing this song at this point in worship because we are preparing our hearts to hear God's word in the sermon. This song focuses on God's word and the power of God's word to transform our hearts, bring us to worship and obedience, and build up his church.

Sheet MusicAudio

4. ALAS! AND DID MY SAVIOR BLEED?

Style: We will be playing the traditional version of this hymn. It is lo-tempo and contemplative.

Song Info: There seem to be hundreds of version of this hymn out there. The lyrics are so powerful that it has been covered and re-arranged by several artists. Yet the traditional hymn was written by Isaac Watts (lyrics) and Hugh Wilson (music) in the 18th century. This tune fits well at this point in the service because it causes us to meditate on our sinful condition before the Lord. Here we move from rejoicing in the Lord and his goodness in creation to our sinful response to God. Though God has showered infinite grace upon us in making us in his image, we have repaid him by rebelling against his rule in our lives. Yet this song is also about God's surprising mercy in sending his own Son to come as man and die for our rebellion.

Sheet MusicAudio

5. CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS

Style: We will play this hymn in its traditional style. It is magisterial and joyful.

Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were written in 1851 by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring. The tune is called "Diademata" which stands behind many other hymns, although this is its most famous setting. From an ecumenical standpoint, this is one of the most widely used hymns among various denominations and churches - appearing in hymn books from Baptist churches to the Roman Catholic Church! Originally boasting 12 verses, we will only sing its most famous 4 verses. The subject matter of this song is on the worthiness of Christ to be crowned will all power, honor, glory, and dominion.

Sheet MusicAudio

See you Sunday!

Preparing for Worship - February 11, 2018

Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series on Exodus. Also, immediately following worship we will be having our ground breaking ceremony for our new building. Because of this, worship will be a little shorter. Here are the songs we'll sing together:

1. ALMIGHTY GOD

Style: This is a contemporary song that has an alt-country, Nashville style. It is mid-tempo.

Song Info: This tune was written by Sandra McCracken and released on her 2015 Psalms. The main theme of this song is the idea that all hearts are open before God and nothing is hidden from him. It is a general song of praise to our omniscient creator. It may reflect the following passage from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer known as The Collect for Purity:

ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

It also reflects biblical passages such as Proverbs 15:3 - "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good." Also Proverbs 15:11 - "Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!"

It is always good to approach God in worship acknowledging that he knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our successes and failures, our abundance and our needs. We cannot hide from him and thankfully we need not hide from him.

Lead SheetAudio

2. GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

Style: We will play this song in its traditional style. It is low-tempo and melodic.

Info: This popular hymn was written in America as a poem in 1923 by Thomas Chisholm. It was set to music shortly afterward by William Runyan. It is based on Lamentations 3:22-23 - "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." This truth was called to mind by the prophet Jeremiah after Jerusalem was destroyed and his people taken into captivity in Babylon. The faithfulness of God is called to mind in the midst of tragedy and punishment in order to inspire hope that God will again be gracious and will not leave his people even as he is chastising them.

Sheet MusicAudio

3. LET ALL MORTAL FLESH KEEP SILENCE

Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is a slow tempo.

Song Info: This hymn, in one way or another, dates back to the fifth century. It is one of the oldest surviving Christian hymns, possibly dating even earlier to AD 275. It was originally written in Greek to be a eucharistic hymn. Though it has come to be recognized as a Christmas song, it's true emphasis is on the Lord's Supper. That's why we'll sing it on Sunday before celebrating the sacrament. We will also likely sing it at other times of the year, as well.

Sheet MusicAudio

See you Sunday!

An Apocalyptic Companion (Part 1)

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In case you didn't know, we're currently teaching through the book of Revelation in our adult Sunday School class. You can listen to what we've covered so far here. Alongside this class I plan on posting a few blog posts in order to share my notes, remind you of resources we've discussed in the class, post resources used in the class, and try to answer any difficult questions that arose during the class which we did not have time to cover.

Notes and Documents

Here you'll find my notes for first two sessions on the Introductory Matters of Revelation. It's nothing that we didn't cover in the class, but it can be a useful reference.

Here you'll find the chart from GK Beale which compares the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls.

Helpful Resources

I mentioned some helpful books and commentaries that I've read and am using as a resource for this course. Here's what's been mentioned so far:

Short Reading

  1. More than Conquerors - William Hendriksen. This short commentary on Revelation is insightful, easy to read, and promotes the Iterist approach to interpretation.
     
  2. The Theology of the Book of Revelation - Richard Bauckham. Another short work. This is not a commentary but an overview of the book, how to read it, and its main theological ideas.
     
  3. The Returning King - Vern Poythress. This wonderful little book is a very short commentary on Revelation and also a great introduction to the book as a whole. You can read it for free on his website (linked) or buy a physical copy from Amazon.

Long Commentary

  1. The Book of Revelation - GK Beale. Beale also has a shorter commentary available. This is regarded as one of the best evangelical commentaries available on Revelation. GK Beale takes an iterist approach to interpretation.
  2. The Book of Revelation - Robert Mounce. A shorter commentary than Beale's but also helpful.
  3. Revelation - David Aune. This commentary is more technical and very thorough. It's great for learning about the little details in Revelation. It's not as helpful in seeing the big picture of Revelation.

Questions?

You can always feel free to ask questions in class but not everyone likes to do this. Also, questions sometimes arise later on when there is not an opportunity to ask. Please feel free to email me with any questions that were not answered during class and I'll do the best I can to find a good answer.