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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See you Sunday!