Preparing for Worship - March 25, 2018

This Sunday is Palm Sunday - the last Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is remembered on this day, so many songs that we'll be singing will be tied to this theme. We will be continuing in our series on Exodus. Here are the songs we'll be singing together:


Style: We are playing a contemporary, alt-country version of this old hymn/psalm. It is up-tempo and joyful.

Song Info: The lyrics to this tune were originally composed by Scottish poet, hymn-writer, and activist James Montgomery in 1822. His original lyrics are almost entirely preserved, although slightly altered, by Sandra McCracken in this version that we are singing. She also set the words to new music which she composed. Montgomery's words were based heavily on Psalm 72 and in many Psalters this song is associated with Psalm 72.

Psalm 72 is a Royal Psalm written by King David for his son Solomon. It is a plea for God to give his justice and wisdom to the king so that the reign of the king might bring forth equity and prosperity on earth. This Psalm can be applied to Jesus as "great David's greater son", who is God's anointed king forever. Hail to the Lord's anointed!

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Style: We will be playing the traditional version of this hymn. It will be a slow tempo.

Song Info: This classic hymn was originally part of George Frideric Handel's Messiah in 1741. It has come to be considered a Christmas song about Christ's advent but it's actually about Christ's ascension into heaven after the resurrection. It comes from Psalm 24 - the Psalm of ascension. In that Psalm, the king of glory is coming to his glorious throne in Jerusalem. The gates of Jerusalem are to lift up for him to enter. This song connects that Psalm to Jesus Christ entering the heavenly throne room and sitting next to God the Father after his victory of the cross had been won. It also connects the ascension to the filling of the Holy Spirit that happens to every believer. Christ is seated in heaven with the Father but also seated in our hearts and lives by the Holy Spirit.

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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.

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Style: This is a very old tune played in choral and medieval style. It is dark, somber, and prayerful.

Song Info: You're not likely to hear this particular version of this hymn anywhere but at Faith. That's because we've combined the lyrics with a different melody. The lyrics were written in 1825 by James Montgomery, a prolific poet and hymn writer. The melody we use goes by the name of Aberystwyth, composed by Joseph Parry in 1876. This tune is most commonly paired with Charles Wesley's Jesus, Lover of My Soul.

This song causes the singers to accompany Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane to witness his prayers and suffering. It calls us to learn from Jesus how to pray. We then follow Jesus to his trial and observe his quiet acceptance of condemnation. It calls us to learn from Jesus how to bear the cross. From there we follow Jesus to Calvary's mountain and witness his crucifixion. The song calls us to learn from Jesus how to die to self. Finally we accompany Jesus to the empty tomb and observe the risen Lord. We are called to learn from Jesus how to rise.

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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.

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See you Sunday!

Preparing for Worship - March 18, 2018

"Blood and Bread". This is the title of Part II of our look at the Passover. This Sunday we find ourselves in Exodus 12:29-42 and take a look at the killing of the firstborn in Egypt and the origin of the eating of unleavened bread. What did these things mean for God's people then? What do they mean for God's people today? This is what we'll be turning our hearts and minds to this Sunday. Here are the songs we'll be singing together:


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.

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Style: This hymn has been around in various forms for a long time. The tune itself is a popular Sacred Harp tune from 1844 - Beech Spring. It has a Celtic or Appalachian sound and is mellow and prayerful.

Song Info: This particular arrangement was produced recently by Daniel Justice Snoke and released on a Cardiphonia compilation. The lyrics are a stylized version of the Apostles' Creed. From early times the church has considered the Apostles' Creed to be a full yet succinct definition of the gospel. We don't normally think of it as a proclamation of the gospel because it contains much more than just the cross and resurrection.

But in the Heidelberg Catechism, a revered reformation document, Question 22 asks: "What then must a Christian believe?" Answer: "Everything God promises us in the gospel. That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith -- a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world." The Catechism goes on to cite and unpack the entirety of the Apostles' Creed.

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Style: We will play this song in its traditional style. It is low to mid-tempo but done in a major key, having lots of energy, and with a very triumphant feel. The style of this song reminds me of classic gospel music.

Song Info: This song was composed in the mid nineteenth century by Philip P. Bliss. Bliss was a music teacher, evangelist, and hymn writer from the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas. He was responsible for composing many famous hymns including the melody for It Is Well With My Soul. The lyrics to this particular song have had an abiding power in the Christian world since they were penned. The title for JI Packer and Mark Dever's recent book on the atonement - "In My Place Condemned He Stood" - was lifted right from the lines of this hymn.

The subject matter of this song focuses on the cross and the humility of Christ, our king. As the song reflects on the humility and servanthood of Christ to suffer for our sins it continually returns to the anthem: Hallelujah! What a savior! It's appropriate at this moment in worship because we are turning from praising God for his goodness to recognizing our own sinfulness and need for a great savior.

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Style: This is a contemporary song that is oft mistaken for a classic hymn. It is mid-tempo and done in the style of a traditional hymn.

Song Info: This is one of many songs that we play written by Stuart Townend. It was produced in 2001 but already is enjoying endurance as a modern hymn and will likely enjoy popularity in the church for generations to come. The content of the song focuses on salvation through Christ alone. It touches on themes familiar to classic hymns such as On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand. This is an appropriate moment in worship to sing this song together because we are beginning to incline our hearts to hear the word of God in hopes of hearing about the grace of God in the gospel. Hearing the gospel strengthens us in our sinful state to overcome sin here and now.

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Style: This is a traditional hymn that we will play in its traditional style. It is low-tempo and contemplative.

Song Info: This hymn was written by Fanny Crosby - a very prolific and famous hymn writer of the nineteenth century. Crosby is responsible for many important hymns and much of them center on the subject of the cross. The melody for this particular song was written by William Doane - a businessman from Cincinnati. The content is a prayer that Jesus would keep our hearts and minds near the cross. It's no accident that the cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith. Indeed, the cross is the central idea of the Christian faith. To understand what's happening at the cross is to understand, in the clearest way that we can, the heart of God. In the cross we see more clearly than anywhere else the character of the Father. We see his justice and his mercy at the same time. We see his faithfulness and his love. We see his humility and his victory. Jesus, keep us near the cross.

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Style: This is a contemporary song played in a pop/country/rock style.

Song info: This song was written by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell in 2013. It is an invitation to consider "the mystery of the gospel of Christ". My favorite line in the song is "See the price of our redemption/ See the Father's plan unfold/ bringing many sons to glory/ grace unmeasured, love untold!"

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See you Sunday!

Preparing for Worship - March 11, 2018

Join us this Sunday as we venture into Exodus 12 and continue in our series in Exodus. Here are the songs we'll sing together:


Style: We will play the traditional version of this song which is markedly different from the popular contemporary version. The time signature will be noticeably different and the music is more complex and beautiful. But the melody line remains essentially the same. It is mid-tempo, joyful, and Orchestral.

Song Info: The words to this hymn may be originally ascribed to Saint Francis of Assisi in 1225. They are contained in his poem A Canticle to the Sun which was inspired by Psalm 148. William Draper translated the words into English in the late nineteenth century. The music comes from a popular German hymn from 1623 composed by Friedrich Spee. All in all, this song has a very rich history. This is a great song for a call to worship because it is calling all creatures (created things) to enter into the presence of the creator to worship and give thanks to him. In the song Francis explores multiple characters in creation and calls them to praise and thank God. Since we will not sing all of the verses on Sunday I will include a seldom-sung verse that is still very powerful:

"Earth ever fertile, day by day
bring forth your blessings on our way;
alleluia, alleluia!
All flowers and fruits that is you grow,
let the his glory also show;
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! "

The Lord's Day is a wonderful day to stop from our normal activity to observe the continual activity of God in upholding his creation. This song causes us to remember the glorious world that God has made and give him thanks for making it and putting us in it.

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Style: We will sing this classic hymn in its traditional style. It is low-tempo, somber, and contemplative.

Song Info: The melody to this hymn was composed in 1900 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written to be a Finnish patriotic song. But the melody is so good and has become so popular that is has been since used as the melody for six different Christian hymns and various other songs. The lyrics were originally written in German by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel in 1752.

Altogether this is a stunning hymn. Its content is especially appropriate for those who are suffering. The great theme of this song is that though this Christian life (and all life on earth) is full of suffering, we have hope and comfort in Jesus Christ through his resurrection from the dead. The hymn calls us to be patient in tribulation and to rejoice in hope. Though we suffer now because of illness, tragedy, sin, persecution, and repentance we have the sure and certain hope of resurrection. This makes it so that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us when Jesus returns.

This is an appropriate time in worship to sing this song because it helps us move from praising the glory and grace of God to recognizing our own fallen condition.

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Style: We will be playing a contemporary, modified version of this hymn. One of the shining virtues of the traditional hymn is its haunting melody. Thankfully, the version we are playing preserves the original melody and nearly all of the original lyrics. It's updated slightly to suit popular modern tastes.

Song Info: The lyrics were written by Joseph Hart in the 18th century. Hart was a hymn writer and minister in London, but he did not become converted until age 45. For much of his life he lived in opposition to God. This hymn seems particularly suited to his story. My favorite line is: "Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall. If you tarry til you're better you will never come at all." This version of the song was arranged and produced by Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. Sojourn is a young, but large, reformed congregation in Louisville that is responsible for producing much excellent music and planting many healthy churches around the United States.



Style: While this particular song was arranged recently, the tune is a familiar traditional American tune. It is low-tempo, prayerful, and having a celtic/traditional american folk feel.

Song Info: The lyrics were composed by Isaac Watts in 1719 as a part of his psalter. Isaac Watts undertook to make the psalms metrical, give them rhyme, and even to "Christianize" them in certain places. This means that wherever he believed that a psalm alluded to Jesus, he would make it more explicit. This particular song has a few examples of this. His words are a Christianized version of Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 is a Psalm of David and a psalm of an individual giving thanks to God. It was likely written some time shortly after Psalm 51 - David's famous Psalm of penitence. The Psalm recounts the blessings associated with forgiveness of sin. David likely wrote this Psalm after experiencing the agony of being confronted about his sin and being exposed. He then humbled himself with prayer and fasting and returned to fellowship with the Lord. This Psalm is likely the result of this experience.

We can sing these words with David as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Supper, which always ought to be a time of being confronted with our sin, humbling ourselves, confessing our sin, and receiving God's assurance of pardon.

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Style: We will play the traditional music for this song while including drums. It will be the familiar tune with a bit more energy.

Song Info: This hymn is likely one of the best loved of Charles Wesley's 6000 hymns that he wrote. The song was written in 1738 as a celebration of Wesley's conversion. The line: "I woke, the dungeon flamed with light/ my chains fell off, my heart was free/ I rose went forth and followed thee" are often quoted in sermons. This song fits well at this point in worship because we are acknowledging our need for conversion. Some of us need to be converted for the first time, some of us need a fresh experience of grace to stir up our obedience. We look to hear of God's grace in the sermon that follows.

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See you Sunday!

Preparing for Worship - March 4, 2018


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


Style: This is a modern hymn done in a mid-tempo, english folk style. Like much of Townend's work it is reminiscent of a Beatles song.

Song Info: This song appears on Stuart Townend's newest release - Paths of Grace. It is a hymn of the church meant to draw our attention to truths about what it means to be God's people. The four verses work through some of the hopeful but painful realities of what it means to be the church. In order, they begin with these lines:

"O Church of Christ, invincible...

O chosen people called by grace...

O Church of Christ in sorrow now...

O Church of Christ, upon that day..."

The hymn recognizes that the church is the work of God and cannot be defeated by the devil, she is called by God's grace, she lives in an age where she can expect to suffer because of her faith, but she awaits a wonderful day of vindication and ultimate salvation when Jesus returns.

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Style: We will play this song in its traditional style. It is mid to up-tempo and celebratory.

Song info: This song is one of the 6,000 hymns written by Charles Wesley. It originally occurred as an 18 stanza poem. The hymn that has survived from this poem is much shorter, usually only 5 or 6 stanzas. The content of this hymn focuses on adoration and praise, an appropriate theme for the beginning of worship.

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Style: This is a contemporary, mid-tempo song that comes out of Nashville. It is prayerful and has a folk-rock flavor.

Song info: Appearing on her 2015 release Psalms, this song is a favored tune from Sandra McCracken. Since its publication is has enjoyed such honor as being The Gospel Coalition's official anthem for their 2015 annual conference. The entire album, including this song, was wrought out of a season of grief for McCracken as she struggled through the dissolution of her marriage due to infidelity. Many of the songs on Psalms are lament songs - songs expressing grief and pain to God. This is appropriate because most of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. Songs like this teach us how to direct our grief, anger, and sorrow toward God who is our healer.

This song is not based on any one Psalm but draws on themes from many of the "songs of Zion" that are found in the Psalter such as Psalms 46, 48, 76, 84, 87, and 122. This song also draws on themes found in Psalms of confidence such as Psalms 115, 125, and 129.

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Style: This is a contemporary song that could easily be mistaken for a traditional hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.

Song info: The lyrics to this popular song were originally written by Ada Habershon (1861-1918). Although the original hymn never enjoyed much popularity and has been completely overtaken by this contemporary version. It was revived by Matthew Merker, worship pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church, in 2013 and since has been covered by many other worship artists.

The content of the song focuses on Christ's faithfulness to his people. Rather than singing that "we will cling to him!", we sing in this song "he will hold me fast!" The most memorable line says: "I could never keep my hold/ through life's fearful path/ for my love is often cold/ he must hold me fast". Singing this reminds us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our salvation. If not for his faithfulness to us we would surely fall away. As Johannes Gerhardus Vos has put it, if Jesus died only to make it possible for people to be saved, then not a single person would be saved. Jesus did not only die for us but also is constantly at work through the Holy Spirit to give us the grace we need to respond to him.

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Style: This is a high-energy, up-tempo song. It's a contemporary tune done in a joyful, indie-rock style typical of much of Dustin Kensrue's music. This is the first time that we have played this song, so you might want to listen to it a few times to familiarize yourself.

Song Info: This is one of my favorite worship songs right now. Written and produced by Kensrue, this song appears on his 2013 album The Water And The Blood. Nearly every song on this record is great. This song joyfully celebrates the finished work of Jesus. By his life, death, and resurrection he has reconciled us to the Father and purchased a place for us in the world to come. This is good news that is worthy of joyous celebration. Hopefully this song will help us get into that mindset and rejoice in the gospel.

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See you Sunday!