Join us this Sunday as we launch into our new series on the letter to the Philippians - "Joy In Trying Times." Paul wrote this letter from prison to the church in Philippi in order to encourage them to continue in the faith. It's considered to be one of Paul's most positive and encouraging letters. We will teach through the entire book between now and the advent season.
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. Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Style: This is a contemporary song played in a pop/country/rock style.
Song info: This song was written by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell in 2013. It is an invitation to consider "the mystery of the gospel of Christ". My favorite line in the song is "See the price of our redemption/ See the Father's plan unfold/ bringing many sons to glory/ grace unmeasured, love untold!"
3. COME YE SINNERS
Style: We will be playing a contemporary, modified version of this hymn. One of the shining virtues of the traditional hymn is its haunting melody. Thankfully, the version we are playing preserves the original melody and nearly all of the original lyrics. It's updated slightly to suit popular modern tastes.
Song Info: The lyrics were written by Joseph Hart in the 18th century. Hart was a hymn writer and minister in London, but he did not become converted until age 45. For much of his life he lived in opposition to God. This hymn seems particularly suited to his story. My favorite line is: "Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall. If you tarry til you're better you will never come at all." This version of the song was arranged and produced by Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. Sojourn is a young, but large, reformed congregation in Louisville that is responsible for producing much excellent music and planting many healthy churches around the United States.
Our own Damon Gray took the time to chart out a lead sheet of this version. May it bless the church at large. See below:
4. HE WILL HOLD ME FAST
Style: This is a contemporary song that could easily be mistaken for a traditional hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song info: The lyrics to this popular song were originally written by Ada Habershon (1861-1918). Although the original hymn never enjoyed much popularity and has been completely overtaken by this contemporary version. It was revived by Matthew Merker, worship pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church, in 2013 and since has been covered by many other worship artists.
The content of the song focuses on Christ's faithfulness to his people. Rather than singing that "we will cling to him!", we sing in this song "he will hold me fast!" The most memorable line says: "I could never keep my hold/ through life's fearful path/ for my love is often cold/ he must hold me fast". Singing this reminds us that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our salvation. If not for his faithfulness to us we would surely fall away. As Johannes Gerhardus Vos has put it, if Jesus died only to make it possible for people to be saved, then not a single person would be saved. Jesus did not only die for us but also is constantly at work through the Holy Spirit to give us the grace we need to respond to him.
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!