Preparing for Worship - February 5, 2017
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series in Matthew - Immanuel, God With Us. This week we look at Matthew 4:1-11 - The Testing of the Son of God. In this scene the Spirit of God lead Jesus into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and be tempted by the devil. What does this test reveal about who Jesus is and what he came to do? Find out on Sunday at 10am! For our full liturgy click here. 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. A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song. It is low to mid-tempo though the melody and content of the song are very triumphal and full of energy.
Song Info: This famous hymn dates back to the sixteenth century and was written and composed by the German reformer Martin Luther. Luther wrote many hymns, but this is by far his most successful. In the nineteenth century there was some controversy as to whether or not Luther wrote the music, but recent scholarship on the issue suggests that he indeed did.
This hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 46 and, in typical Luther fashion, very much focuses on spiritual warfare. The song is about the trials that we face in choosing to follow Christ - both sorrow in this age and also especial hardship that comes from the assaults of Satan. It is also about the glorious victory that we already have in Christ. This was something of a life-theme for Luther, who himself face many trials and was chiefly responsible for the reformation in Germany. This is one of my favorite hymns of all time.
3. WE ARE LISTENING
Style: This is a contemporary song played in an up-tempo, alt-country style.
Song Info: This is one of many songs that we play that was produced by the people of Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. It was written in 2006 by Jeremy Quillo and remains one of Sojourn's most popular songs. It is a perfect song to sing before the sermon. The refrain "We are listening to your word" says enough. We sing that we are gathered together to hear from our God and delight in his son Jesus.
4. BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE
Style: We will be playing the most known, contemporary version of this hymn. It is lo to mid-tempo and contemplative, but also joyful and powerful.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were penned by Charity Lee Bancroft in the 1860's. She was the daughter of an Irish minister and wrote a large collection of hymns published in her hymnbook Behind the Veil. This is by far her most famous hymn. It was set to the tune of a number of different other songs, often taking on a more somber note. It wasn't until 1997 when Vikki Cook of Sovereign Grace Ministries wrote the tune that we are all familiar with today. Her melody interpreted the lyrics in a much more joyful light and the song took on a flavor of hope and joy. After this, the hymn experienced a revival within evangelical churches.
The hymn was originally named: "The Advocate". It's a perfect title. This hymn is about Jesus our advocate and our high priest stepping in to intercede for us in order to offer the perfect sacrifice for our sins. This is an appropriate moment in the worship service to sing this song because we've just heard the word of God in the sermon. In the sermon we've heard about everything we've already sung - God's glory, our sin, our need for a savior. But we've also heard about Christ's work on the cross as our savior. So now we gratefully sing of his work: "Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea, a great High Priest whose name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me".
5. ROCK OF AGES
Style: We are playing a newer version of this hymn arranged by Dustin Kensrue. It is up-tempo and celebratory with an "indie rock" feel.
Song Info: The original hymn was written in 1763 by Augustus Toplady. Legend has it that one fateful evening Toplady was caught in the wilderness in the midst of a dangerous storm. He took shelter in the cleft of a large rock and this became the inspiration for the hymn: "Rock of ages cleft for me/ let me hide myself in thee." The hymn picks up on the biblical image of Jesus Christ being a "rock of refuge" for his people. The storm of God's wrath will sweep over the earth in order to remove sin. Sinners may take refuge in Jesus Christ to survive this storm.
This hymn was redone by Dustin Kensrue in 2013 and appeared on his album The Water and the Blood. It is appropriate at this moment in worship because of it's celebratory note. In the sermon we've heard about Jesus' work as rescuer and now we are able to enjoy our salvation and celebrate the refuge that he offers to us.
See you Sunday!