Preparing for Worship - October 16, 2016
This Sunday we return to Psalm 119, continuing in our series in the Psalms, by focusing on Psalm 119:81-96. This section again centers on the theme of God's word and even touches on themes of persecution. To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. GOD ALL NATURE SINGS THY GLORY
Style: This song is set to the tune of the familiar "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" and "Ode To Joy". We will play the traditional melody with a mid-tempo. The style is traditional and joyful.
Song Info: The melody to this song goes all the way back to Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" found in his Symphony No. 9. It has been adapted multiple times for hymns and even secular music. The most famous adaptation is probably "Hymn to Joy" penned at the turn of the 20th century. The lyrics to this particular version are considered by many to be a significant advancement in terms of communicating biblical truth. They were written by David Clowney in 1960. David Clowney was the son of the great Edmund Clowney who served as a presbyterian minister, theologian, and president of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.
This song fits well as a call to worship because it focuses on themes of God's glory seen in creation: "God all nature sings thy glory and thy works proclaim thy might/ ordered vastness in the heavens, ordered course of day and night". You can tell that the hymn writer was presbyterian by the emphasis on "order" (little joke). The hymn then turns to man's dignity - not a subject often taken up in worship music. "Clearer still we see thy hand in man whom thou hast made for thee/ ruler of creation's glory, image of thy majesty." It is right to praise God for his works and for creating us in his image before we meditate upon our sinful condition.
2. TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song. It is low-tempo, peaceful, and contemplative.
Song Info: This song comes to us from 1882. The lyrics were written by Louisa Stead and the melody by William Kirkpatrick. The backstory to this song is perhaps true, perhaps legend. It appears that Stead's husband died prematurely in a tragic accident. This made Stead's life very difficult as a single mother caring for a little girl. Their family fell into poverty where they had to learn how to trust Jesus to provide for their needs. Eventually the mother and daughter moved to South Africa to serve as missionaries.
This song is appropriate here because it prepares our hearts to hear God's word. "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at his word, just in simple faith to trust him, just to know 'thus saith' the Lord." As we sing this song, this sentiment ought to be our prayer. Whatever Jesus has to say to us in the unfolding of his preached word, we are ready to hear and believe.
3. PASS ME NOT O GENTLE SAVIOR
Style: Our version will be easily recognized as the traditional melody, though we will play it in the style of Red Mountain Band with a more southern, alt-country feel. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: This hymn was originally written by Fanny Crosby in 1868. Crosby is one of the most famous and beloved hymn writers of the past 200 years. This song has been widely covered in its history by artists that include Bob Dylan and MC Hammer. In this song we entreat the Savior to help us, not to pass us by. This is an appropriate song for this moment in worship because after we have acknowledged God for his goodness we are turning to reflect on our own brokenness and sinful response to God. We are beginning to detect our need for a savior. As we sing this song we ought to attempt to cast off all other helps and false saviors that we turn to in order to absolve ourselves of sin. We should turn to Jesus, the true savior, and pray for his help.
4. 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.
5. ALL MY DAYS (BEAUTIFUL SAVIOR)
Style: This is a contemporary hymn done in a CCM style. It is up-tempo and joyful.
Song Info: This is one of my favorite songs from hymn writer Stuart Townend. It's subject matter reflects back on our salvation, sings a song of gladness because of it, and looks toward the fulfillment of our salvation: a new heavens and a new earth. "Where countless worshippers will share one song, and cries of 'worthy' will honor the lamb." It is appropriate at this moment in worship because of its emphasis on glory that is to come. A great reminder for us as we conclude worship and go out into the world to live as disciples of Jesus.
See you Sunday!