Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series on Matthew. We're just beginning the Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) and will be in this section for the next few months. Over the past two weeks we've looked at the first three beatitudes and this coming Sunday we will look at the next three or four. The beatitudes are short, pithy statements that wonderfully and poetically capture what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Come and explore them with us. 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. HAIL TO THE LORD'S ANOINTED
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!
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. 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.
5. IT IS FINISHED
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.
See you Sunday!