Preparing for Worship - November 19, 2017
Join us this Sunday as we near the end of our series in the letter to the Philippians. Here are the songs we'll be singing together:
1. GRACE ALONE
Style: This a contemporary song done in an up-tempo, indie rock style.
Song Info: Here is another tune written by Dustin Kensrue and appearing on his 2013 The Water and the Blood. This is one of my favorite worship songs written in a long time. What I love most about it is its unapologetic ode to God's pure grace. This song focuses on biblical and reformed themes of salvation by grace alone - that God has invaded our lives with his salvation. He has transformed our hearts and made us want to respond to his grace. He has done everything in our salvation and he alone ought to receive the glory. This tune attempts to give him just that. This is a good song for a call to worship because it approaches the Father with a humble heart overwhelmed by grace - a good starting point for worship.
2. I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER
Style: This hymn has been around in various forms for a long time. The tune itself is a popular Sacred Harp tune from 1844 - Beech Spring. It has a Celtic or Appalachian sound and is mellow and prayerful.
Song Info: This particular arrangement was produced recently by Daniel Justice Snoke and released on a Cardiphonia compilation. The lyrics are a stylized version of the Apostles' Creed. From early times the church has considered the Apostles' Creed to be a full yet succinct definition of the gospel. We don't normally think of it as a proclamation of the gospel because it contains much more than just the cross and resurrection.
But in the Heidelberg Catechism, a revered reformation document, Question 22 asks: "What then must a Christian believe?" Answer: "Everything God promises us in the gospel. That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith -- a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world." The Catechism goes on to cite and unpack the entirety of the Apostles' Creed.
3. A SONG FOR THE SABBATH (PSALM 92)
Style - This is a contemporary tune done in a country style. It is mid-tempo, joyful, and full of energy.
Song Info - The lyrics of this song were penned by Isaac Watts in the eighteenth century as part of his attempt to Christianize the Psalter. What this meant what that he took the 150 Psalms, set them to meter and rhyme, and attempted to make allusions to Christ more clear and to add gospel language to the Psalms where appropriate. Psalm 92 is called in Scripture "A Song for the Sabbath", and so that is what it's called here. It is a Psalm of thanksgiving that focuses on giving thanks for the work of God. Verses 4-5 say:
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
This reminds us that the Sabbath is a time when we cease from our work in order to enjoy the work of God, to contemplate his works, and to allow him to continue to work in us. While we rest on the Sabbath, God is at work to preserve and perfect his people. These lyrics were set to music composed by Billy Otten, worship leader here at Faith 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. 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.
See you Sunday!