Preparing for Worship - June 3, 2018
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series in Proverbs. Remember that this Sunday our worship time changes to 10am. Here are the songs 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. 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.
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. 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. HELP MY UNBELIEF
Style: This is another low-tempo song done in a contemporary and somewhat indie-rock kind of style.
Song Info: This song was originally composed by John Newton (also responsible for Amazing Grace) in the eighteenth century. It was rearranged by Clint Wells in 2005 and recorded by Red Mountain Band. The lyrics to this song are stunning. We place it after the sermon in order to help us respond to the gospel and prepare our hearts to receive Christ in communion. The song is a confession of sin and a confession of our need for God's grace. The song confesses rightly that we cannot even respond to God unless he helps us:
"I would but can’t repent,
though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
till Jesus makes it soft."
6. 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!