Preparing for Worship - April 29, 2018
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series in Proverbs. This Sunday we take a look at Proverbs 3:5-7, 21:4, 29:23, and 3:34 and the subject of pride and humility. Wisdom and humility are bound together. Find out why. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
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. ALTHOUGH WE ARE WEEPING (PSALM 126)
Style: This is a contemporary tune done in an ambient, folk style. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song Info: This tune was produced by Sojourn Music and released on their 2014 album: New Again. It is heavily based on Psalm 126. Psalm 126 is a Song of Ascents, which means that it was used in Israel by pilgrims who were journeying to Jerusalem during feast times. This particular Psalm was written after the exile. It talks about the Lord restoring the fortunes of Zion - a reference to their return from exile. The Psalmist rejoices in this miracle and then turns to a plea for restoration. The land was desolate after 70 years of exile and in need of restoration of all kinds. This prayer asks God to establish the work of their hands as they go out to sow their seed and try to rebuild their lives.
This song is good for us to sing today because we too are called to busy ourselves with building the kingdom of God. The exiles of that time were called by God to return to the land and rebuild, awaiting God's promise to visit them and completely restore the kingdom. We're in a very similar spot. As we wait for Jesus' return we are called to sow seeds of the kingdom and seek to establish God's kingdom in every place. So this prayer is for the church today. Restore us, O Lord.
3. THE SOLID ROCK
Style: This is a nineteenth century hymn that is low-tempo and prayerful. We will play the traditional version.
Info: This song is also known as "Christ the Solid Rock", "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand", or "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less". This classic hymn was written by Edward Mote (words) and William Bradbury (music) in 1863. The content focuses on the righteousness of Christ alone as our sure hope for salvation - the solid rock upon which we stand. Though our circumstances in life are constantly changing, though our own righteousness is unreliable and faulty, we have the righteousness of Christ which is unchanging and perfect.
4. WE WILL FEAST IN THE HOUSE OF ZION
Style: This is a contemporary, mid-tempo song that comes out of Nashville. It is prayerful and has a folk-rock flavor.
Song info: Appearing on her 2015 release Psalms, this song is a favored tune from Sandra McCracken. Since its publication is has enjoyed such honor as being The Gospel Coalition's official anthem for their 2015 annual conference. The entire album, including this song, was wrought out of a season of grief for McCracken as she struggled through the dissolution of her marriage due to infidelity. Many of the songs on Psalms are lament songs - songs expressing grief and pain to God. This is appropriate because most of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. Songs like this teach us how to direct our grief, anger, and sorrow toward God who is our healer.
This song is not based on any one Psalm but draws on themes from many of the "songs of Zion" that are found in the Psalter such as Psalms 46, 48, 76, 84, 87, and 122. This song also draws on themes found in Psalms of confidence such as Psalms 115, 125, and 129.
5. 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."
6. 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!