Preparing for Worship - March 4, 2018
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our sermon series in Exodus. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. O CHURCH OF CHRIST INVINCIBLE
Style: This is a modern hymn done in a mid-tempo, english folk style. Like much of Townend's work it is reminiscent of a Beatles song.
Song Info: This song appears on Stuart Townend's newest release - Paths of Grace. It is a hymn of the church meant to draw our attention to truths about what it means to be God's people. The four verses work through some of the hopeful but painful realities of what it means to be the church. In order, they begin with these lines:
"O Church of Christ, invincible...
O chosen people called by grace...
O Church of Christ in sorrow now...
O Church of Christ, upon that day..."
The hymn recognizes that the church is the work of God and cannot be defeated by the devil, she is called by God's grace, she lives in an age where she can expect to suffer because of her faith, but she awaits a wonderful day of vindication and ultimate salvation when Jesus returns.
2. OH FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING
Style: We will play this song in its traditional style. It is mid to up-tempo and celebratory.
Song info: This song is one of the 6,000 hymns written by Charles Wesley. It originally occurred as an 18 stanza poem. The hymn that has survived from this poem is much shorter, usually only 5 or 6 stanzas. The content of this hymn focuses on adoration and praise, an appropriate theme for the beginning of worship.
3. WE WILL FEAST IN THE HOUSE OF ZION
Style: This is a contemporary, mid-tempo song that comes out of Nashville. It is prayerful and has a folk-rock flavor.
Song info: Appearing on her 2015 release Psalms, this song is a favored tune from Sandra McCracken. Since its publication is has enjoyed such honor as being The Gospel Coalition's official anthem for their 2015 annual conference. The entire album, including this song, was wrought out of a season of grief for McCracken as she struggled through the dissolution of her marriage due to infidelity. Many of the songs on Psalms are lament songs - songs expressing grief and pain to God. This is appropriate because most of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. Songs like this teach us how to direct our grief, anger, and sorrow toward God who is our healer.
This song is not based on any one Psalm but draws on themes from many of the "songs of Zion" that are found in the Psalter such as Psalms 46, 48, 76, 84, 87, and 122. This song also draws on themes found in Psalms of confidence such as Psalms 115, 125, and 129.
4. HE WILL HOLD ME FAST
Style: This is a contemporary song that could easily be mistaken for a traditional hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song info: The lyrics to this popular song were originally written by Ada Habershon (1861-1918). Although the original hymn never enjoyed much popularity and has been completely overtaken by this contemporary version. It was revived by Matthew Merker, worship pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church, in 2013 and since has been covered by many other worship artists.
The content of the song focuses on Christ's faithfulness to his people. Rather than singing that "we will cling to him!", we sing in this song "he will hold me fast!" The most memorable line says: "I could never keep my hold/ through life's fearful path/ for my love is often cold/ he must hold me fast". Singing this reminds us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our salvation. If not for his faithfulness to us we would surely fall away. As Johannes Gerhardus Vos has put it, if Jesus died only to make it possible for people to be saved, then not a single person would be saved. Jesus did not only die for us but also is constantly at work through the Holy Spirit to give us the grace we need to respond to him.
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!