Happy February everyone! Winter's days are numbered. Here are the songs that we'll be singing together this coming Sunday:
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. Be Thou My Vision
Style: We will sing a contemporary version of this hymn that will be very familiar. The version we're singing is likely the most commonly known version. It is low-tempo and contemplative.
Song Info: This is a traditional Irish hymn of unknown authorship that probably dates to the eighteenth century, though possibly comes from the sixteenth century. This hymn has been translated into dozens of languages in its lifetime and remains one of the most popular hymns ever written. The subject matter is certainly appropriate for this moment in worship. The song is about asking and allowing God to be our "all in all". As we sing, we ask God to be our vision, our wisdom, our shield, our treasure, and our comfort. That we would ascribe all glory to God, look to him for all our needs, and find all of our desires fulfilled in him is the true heart of worship.
3. Speak, O Lord
Style: This is a contemporary song done in a low-tempo and contemplative tone.
Song Info: This is another modern hymn written by Stuart Townend and the Gettys. Their mission in hymn-writing, it seems, is to write modern hymns that are musically excellent and maintain the integrity and theological depth of the famous hymns of the past. And they have been very successful in this endeavor. We sing this song at this point in worship because we are preparing our hearts to hear God's word in the sermon. This song focuses on God's word and the power of God's word to transform our hearts, bring us to worship and obedience, and build up his church.
4. Help My Unbelief
Style: This is another low-tempo song done in a contemporary and somewhat indie-rock kind of style.
Song Info: This song was originally composed by John Newton (also responsible for Amazing Grace) in the eighteenth century. It was rearranged by Clint Wells in 2005 and recorded by Red Mountain Band. The lyrics to this song are stunning. We place it after the sermon in order to help us respond to the gospel and prepare our hearts to receive Christ in communion. The song is a confession of sin and a confession of our need for God's grace. The song confesses rightly that we cannot even respond to God unless he helps us:
"I would but can’t repent,
though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
till Jesus makes it soft."
5. It Is Finished
Style: This is a high-energy, up-tempo song. It's a contemporary tune done in a joyful, indie-rock style typical of much of Dustin Kensrue's music. This is the first time that we have played this song, so you might want to listen to it a few times to familiarize yourself.
Song Info: This is one of my favorite worship songs right now. Written and produced by Kensrue, this song appears on his 2013 album The Water And The Blood. Nearly every song on this record is great. This song joyfully celebrates the finished work of Jesus. By his life, death, and resurrection he has reconciled us to the Father and purchased a place for us in the world to come. This is good news that is worthy of joyous celebration. Hopefully this song will help us get into that mindset and rejoice in the gospel.
See you Sunday!