Join us this Sunday as we take a break from our series in Philippians to hear from Randy Bond. Randy is a missionary of ours working in Burundi, Africa and is involved in medical missions. We're always greatly blessed to hear him open up the word and share with our congregation what he is learning of the Lord by serving in such a different part of the world. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. ALMIGHTY GOD
Style: This is a contemporary song that has an alt-country, Nashville style. It is mid-tempo.
Song Info: This tune was written by Sandra McCracken and released on her 2015 Psalms. The main theme of this song is the idea that all hearts are open before God and nothing is hidden from him. It is a general song of praise to our omniscient creator. It may reflect the following passage from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer known as The Collect for Purity:
ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
It also reflects biblical passages such as Proverbs 15:3 - "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good." Also Proverbs 15:11 - "Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!"
It is always good to approach God in worship acknowledging that he knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our successes and failures, our abundance and our needs. We cannot hide from him and thankfully we need not hide from him.
2. JESUS SHALL REIGN
Style: This is a traditional hymn played in its original style. It is melodic, joyful, energetic, and mid-tempo.
Song Info: This is yet another hymn based on Psalm 72 - one of the most popular Psalms that has been set to music. This hymn was written by Isaac Watts in the eighteenth century. Psalm 72 is a Royal Psalm and is David's prayer and blessing for his son Solomon. Many hymn writers have taken themes from this Psalm and applied them to Jesus - the true and better son of David. That makes this hymn a celebration of Jesus' kingship.
3. IN CHRIST ALONE
Style: This is a contemporary song that is oft mistaken for a classic hymn. It is mid-tempo and done in the style of a traditional hymn.
Song Info: This is one of many songs that we play written by Stuart Townend. It was produced in 2001 but already is enjoying endurance as a modern hymn and will likely enjoy popularity in the church for generations to come. The content of the song focuses on salvation through Christ alone. It touches on themes familiar to classic hymns such as On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand. This is an appropriate moment in worship to sing this song together because we are beginning to incline our hearts to hear the word of God in hopes of hearing about the grace of God in the gospel. Hearing the gospel strengthens us in our sinful state to overcome sin here and now.
4. BLEST IS THE MAN
Style: While this particular song was arranged recently, the tune is a familiar traditional American tune. It is low-tempo, prayerful, and having a celtic/traditional american folk feel.
Song Info: The lyrics were composed by Isaac Watts in 1719 as a part of his psalter. Isaac Watts undertook to make the psalms metrical, give them rhyme, and even to "Christianize" them in certain places. This means that wherever he believed that a psalm alluded to Jesus, he would make it more explicit. This particular song has a few examples of this. His words are a Christianized version of Psalm 32.
Psalm 32 is a Psalm of David and a psalm of an individual giving thanks to God. It was likely written some time shortly after Psalm 51 - David's famous Psalm of penitence. The Psalm recounts the blessings associated with forgiveness of sin. David likely wrote this Psalm after experiencing the agony of being confronted about his sin and being exposed. He then humbled himself with prayer and fasting and returned to fellowship with the Lord. This Psalm is likely the result of this experience.
We can sing these words with David as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Supper, which always ought to be a time of being confronted with our sin, humbling ourselves, confessing our sin, and receiving God's assurance of pardon.
5. 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!