1. ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD AND KING
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song which is markedly different from the popular contemporary version. The time signature will be noticeably different and the music is more complex and beautiful. But the melody line remains essentially the same. It is mid-tempo, joyful, and Orchestral.
Song Info: The words to this hymn may be originally ascribed to Saint Francis of Assisi in 1225. They are contained in his poem A Canticle to the Sun which was inspired by Psalm 148. William Draper translated the words into English in the late nineteenth century. The music comes from a popular German hymn from 1623 composed by Friedrich Spee. All in all, this song has a very rich history. This is a great song for a call to worship because it is calling all creatures (created things) to enter into the presence of the creator to worship and give thanks to him. In the song Francis explores multiple characters in creation and calls them to praise and thank God. Since we will not sing all of the verses on Sunday I will include a seldom-sung verse that is still very powerful:
"Earth ever fertile, day by day
bring forth your blessings on our way;
All flowers and fruits that is you grow,
let the his glory also show;
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! "
The Lord's Day is a wonderful day to stop from our normal activity to observe the continual activity of God in upholding his creation. This song causes us to remember the glorious world that God has made and give him thanks for making it and putting us in it.
2. 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.
3. You Are My Shield
Style: This is a contemporary song done in the style of harmonious folk rock reminiscent of bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and Fleet Foxes. It is mid-tempo and prayerful.
Song Info: This song was arranged and produced by Jody Killingsworth and Jake Mentzel in 2016. They are part of a group of pastors and musicians who work with Clearnote Churches. This song is part of a 10 song album released in 2016 that sets Psalms 1-10 to modern meter and music. They also take some liberties to add refrains to these songs and to rearrange lyrics in order to create rhyme (both of which are lacking from the Psalms).
The song itself is intended to be a faithful version of Psalm 3. Psalm singing has a tradition in the church that is as old as the psalms themselves - roughly 3500 years. Psalm 3 is a Psalm of David so it was written sometime around 1000BC. It is classified as a lament psalm - meaning that it is a cry for help to God that was originally written during a difficult situation in David's life - the psalm itself identifies this situation as Absalom's rebellion and David's flight from Jerusalem. This was a time of deep betrayal in David's life. During this time David raised his complaint to the Lord and recognized the precariousness of his very life. He asked that God would come to his defense by saving him and destroying his enemies - a prayer that was ultimately answered by the Lord.
Though we live in a time and place where we don't often have physical enemies like David did these psalms are still for us. One reason is because we do have enemies in the heavenly places who are seeking to destroy us. But another reason is that we have brothers and sisters in Christ around the world (and even around the block) who are being oppressed by a physical enemy. Psalms like this help us to identify with them.
4. NEAR THE CROSS
Style: This is a traditional hymn that we will play in its traditional style. It is low-tempo and contemplative.
Song Info: This hymn was written by Fanny Crosby - a very prolific and famous hymn writer of the nineteenth century. Crosby is responsible for many important hymns and much of them center on the subject of the cross. The melody for this particular song was written by William Doane - a businessman from Cincinnati. The content is a prayer that Jesus would keep our hearts and minds near the cross. It's no accident that the cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith. Indeed, the cross is the central idea of the Christian faith. To understand what's happening at the cross is to understand, in the clearest way that we can, the heart of God. In the cross we see more clearly than anywhere else the character of the Father. We see his justice and his mercy at the same time. We see his faithfulness and his love. We see his humility and his victory. Jesus, keep us near the cross.
5. AND CAN IT BE?
Style: We will play the traditional music for this song while including drums. It will be the familiar tune with a bit more energy.
Song Info: This hymn is likely one of the best loved of Charles Wesley's 6000 hymns that he wrote. The song was written in 1738 as a celebration of Wesley's conversion. The line: "I woke, the dungeon flamed with light/ my chains fell off, my heart was free/ I rose went forth and followed thee" are often quoted in sermons. This song fits well at this point in worship because we are acknowledging our need for conversion. Some of us need to be converted for the first time, some of us need a fresh experience of grace to stir up our obedience. We look to hear of God's grace in the sermon that follows.
See you Sunday!