This Sunday we launch into Connect Month. This month all of our community groups are launching, new groups are forming, and we're encouraging everyone to get involved in a group. We'll also take a look at Matthew 9:1-8 wherein Jesus heals a paralyzed man. The man is brought to him hoping to be healed of his paralysis, but Jesus declares that his sins are forgiven. We often come to Jesus seeking deliverance from physical needs and end up being healed spiritually in the process.
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. WE ARE LISTENING
Style: This is a contemporary song played in an up-tempo, alt-country style.
Song Info: This is one of many songs that we play that was produced by the people of Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. It was written in 2006 by Jeremy Quillo and remains one of Sojourn's most popular songs. It is a perfect song to sing before the sermon. The refrain "We are listening to your word" says enough. We sing that we are gathered together to hear from our God and delight in his son Jesus.
4. BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE
Style: We will be playing the most known, contemporary version of this hymn. It is lo to mid-tempo and contemplative, but also joyful and powerful.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were penned by Charity Lee Bancroft in the 1860's. She was the daughter of an Irish minister and wrote a large collection of hymns published in her hymnbook Behind the Veil. This is by far her most famous hymn. It was set to the tune of a number of different other songs, often taking on a more somber note. It wasn't until 1997 when Vikki Cook of Sovereign Grace Ministries wrote the tune that we are all familiar with today. Her melody interpreted the lyrics in a much more joyful light and the song took on a flavor of hope and joy. After this, the hymn experienced a revival within evangelical churches.
The hymn was originally named: "The Advocate". It's a perfect title. This hymn is about Jesus our advocate and our high priest stepping in to intercede for us in order to offer the perfect sacrifice for our sins. This is an appropriate moment in the worship service to sing this song because we've just heard the word of God in the sermon. In the sermon we've heard about everything we've already sung - God's glory, our sin, our need for a savior. But we've also heard about Christ's work on the cross as our savior. So now we gratefully sing of his work: "Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea, a great High Priest whose name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me".
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!