Preparing for Worship - January 22, 2016
This week we continue in our series in Matthew - Immanuel, God With Us. As we get into Matthew 3 we will be looking at the ministry of John the Baptist and the role that he played to prepare Israel for the coming Messiah. To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs that we'll sing together:
1. HOW GREAT THOU ART
Style: We will be blending traditional and contemporary elements in this song. The melody and chords will be the familiar, traditional arrangement though we will play this song a bit more up-tempo with an alt-country feel.
Song Info: This well known hymn has a long translation history. It is based on a poem written in Swedish, then translated into German, then into Russian, then into English from the Russian. Stuart K Hine is responsible for the English version that we all know, which originated in 1949. The melody is a traditional Swedish melody. This hymn is one of the most popular of all time, second only to Amazing Grace.
This hymn makes an excellent call to worship because it is all about approaching God with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. We are taught in Scripture to come into his presence of God with praise and thanksgiving before we come with requests or even confession of sin.
2. COME YE SINNERS
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.
Our own Damon Gray took the time to chart out a lead sheet of this version. May it bless the church at large. See below:
3. ONLY YOUR BLOOD IS ENOUGH
Style: This is a contemporary and mid-tempo song. It has an indie-rock feel.
Song Info: This song was produced as part of a collection that Sojourn Church produced of re-tooled Isaac Watts hymns. Though this song is unique enough to be considered original, it is adapted from Isaac Watt's Psalm 51 Part 2. The lyrics and music were written by Neil Robins and it was released onOver the Grave in 2009. This song is appropriate at this point in the service because it recognizes the need for a savior. We have sung about God's goodness, our sin, and now we will sing about our need for a savior. As the song says: "No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast, no hyssop branch, no priest, no running brook, no flood, no sea can wash away this stain from me. Only your blood is enough to cover my sin." Here, with an eye on our sin, we ought to prepare our hearts to hear the sermon and to hear about the hope we have in the gospel of Christ.
4. The Solid Rock
Style: This is a nineteenth century hymn that is low-tempo and prayerful. We will play the traditional version.
Info: This song is also known as "Christ the Solid Rock", "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand", or "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less". This classic hymn was written by Edward Mote (words) and William Bradbury (music) in 1863. The content focuses on the righteousness of Christ alone as our sure hope for salvation - the solid rock upon which we stand. Though our circumstances in life are constantly changing, though our own righteousness is unreliable and faulty, we have the righteousness of Christ which is unchanging and perfect.
5. AN ALTAR OF REMEMBRANCE
Style: This is a contemporary hymn played in a classic British Rock style. It is reminiscent of a Paul McCartney song. It's mid-tempo.
Song info: This is a recent release from Stuart Townend, appearing on his 2014 Paths of Grace - an album based on themes found in the prophet Isaiah. An Altar of Remembrance picks up on the idea of such altars that were built by God's people of old as a way of remembering special encounters with God, promises, and mighty acts of God in their lives and the history of their nation (Genesis 12:8, Genesis 28:18, Joshua 4:9). These altars were meant to remind people of the stories of God's faithfulness. In this song we construct an altar of remembrance for everything that God has brought us through and all the good he has done in our lives. Beyond this, we recognize that our very lives are being built into altars of remembrance for future generations. Lord willing, our children and other future generations will be able to look at our lives and see "altars of remembrance" - pillars declaring stories of God's faithfulness to his people.
See you Sunday!