1. O CHURCH OF CHRIST INVINCIBLE
Style: This is a modern hymn done in a mid-tempo, english folk style. Like much of Townend's work it is reminiscent of a Beatles song.
Song Info: This song appears on Stuart Townend's newest release - Paths of Grace. It is a hymn of the church meant to draw our attention to truths about what it means to be God's people. The four verses work through some of the hopeful but painful realities of what it means to be the church. In order, they begin with these lines:
"O Church of Christ, invincible...
O chosen people called by grace...
O Church of Christ in sorrow now...
O Church of Christ, upon that day..."
The hymn recognizes that the church is the work of God and cannot be defeated by the devil, she is called by God's grace, she lives in an age where she can expect to suffer because of her faith, but she awaits a wonderful day of vindication and ultimate salvation when Jesus returns.
2. COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song info: This hymn comes to us from Robert Robinson, a pastor in the eighteenth century. One comment of explanation will suffice for this well-known hymn. In the second verse the "Ebenezer stone" is mentioned. This is a reference to a stone raised by Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12. This stone was a monument setup to remind God's people that it is God that had helped them up until that point in their history. It was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt and cleared out the land of promise and established them in the land. And it was the Lord who would continue to be their help so long as they remained faithful to him. "Ebenezer" means rock of help. This song evokes that image in order to cause us to pause and meditate on our own lives and how the Lord has helped us up until now. It also admonishes us to continue to rely on him and look to him to help us reach our final destination - the New Heavens and New Earth.
3. HEAL US
Style: This is a low-tempo and yet very energetic song. It's done is a classic mo-town/gospel style.
Song Info: This tune is an adaptation of the hymn: "Heal Us Emmanuel Hear Our Prayer" which was written in the 18th century by William Cowper. Cowper was a poet and hymn writer but also suffered from depression and attempted suicide on more than one occasion. This song beseeches the Christ, God with us, to touch us and heal us where we most need healing. It draws on different narratives in the gospels in which Jesus healed broken people. The version you hear here was arranged by Kevin Twit of Indelible Grace. It appears on their 2015 release: "Look to Jesus".
This is a very appropriate song to play as we prepare to receive the Lord's Supper. In the Lord's Supper we come to the Lord himself not just to receive the elements, but to receive Christ by faith. Jesus is the ultimate medicine that heals our guilt, blindness, sinfulness, and shame.
4. AH, HOLY JESUS
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is low-tempo and perfectly suited for post-sermon reflection and preparation for the Lord's Supper.
Song Info: Ah Holy Jesus is a German hymn from 1630 by Johann Heermann. The tune itself was composed by Johann Crüger but has been used by various other composers including JS Bach and Johannes Brahms. It has a beautiful and enduring melody and equally beautiful lyrics. The song is a meditation upon the cross. Why was innocent Jesus crucified? It was not because of his sin, but ours. "Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered. The slave hath sinned and the Son hath suffered". The song concludes with a confession that we can by no means repay Jesus. All that is left for us to do is adore him and offer our lives as sacrifices of thanksgiving to the king.
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!