Preparing for Worship - November 20, 2016
This Sunday we finish our series in the Psalms by looking at Psalm 23 with connections to Luke 2. This is the final Sunday before advent. On November 27th we will begin an advent series entitled "O Come O Come Immanuel" which will focus on the opening chapters of Matthew's gospel. This will lead us into a series in January continuing in Matthew called "Immanuel, God With Us". To view our full liturgy for this Sunday click here. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. COME PEOPLE OF THE RISEN KING
Style: This is an up-tempo contemporary hymn that is performed in a celtic style. The usual instrumentation for this hymn would include various strings, piano, and even wind instruments. We'll be playing this song with viola, cello, guitar, and piano. It should make for a beautiful arrangement.
Song Info: This song was written in 2007 by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend. Townend is an English born worship leader and modern hymn writer who is responsible for hymns such as: "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep The Father's Love For Us". His songs are often mistaken to be classic, traditional hymns. This song functions as a great call to worship because it is calling the people of the risen king to come and worship him - whoever they may be. "Come young and old from every land, men and women of the faith". This song reminds us that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has created a most diverse people that includes men, women, young, and old from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
2. BE STILL MY SOUL
Style: We will sing this classic hymn in its traditional style. It is low-tempo, somber, and contemplative.
Song Info: The melody to this hymn was composed in 1900 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written to be a Finnish patriotic song. But the melody is so good and has become so popular that is has been since used as the melody for six different Christian hymns and various other songs. The lyrics were originally written in German by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel in 1752.
Altogether this is a stunning hymn. Its content is especially appropriate for those who are suffering. The great theme of this song is that though this Christian life (and all life on earth) is full of suffering, we have hope and comfort in Jesus Christ through his resurrection from the dead. The hymn calls us to be patient in tribulation and to rejoice in hope. Though we suffer now because of illness, tragedy, sin, persecution, and repentance we have the sure and certain hope of resurrection. This makes it so that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us when Jesus returns.
This is an appropriate time in worship to sing this song because it helps us move from praising the glory and grace of God to recognizing our own fallen condition.
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. 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.
5. 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.
See you Sunday!