Preparing for Worship - August 28, 2016
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. GOOD SHEPHERD OF MY SOUL
Style: This is a contemporary hymn played in a celtic-folk style. It is mid-tempo and prayerful.
Song Info: This song comes to us from Stuart Townend, Keith and Kristin Getty, and Fionan de Barra. It is a prayer that Christ would dwell within us, transform our lives, and mold us into Christ-likeness. It especially reflects on the difficulty of this journey living in a fallen world. My favorite line is this:
I’ll walk this narrow road
With Christ before me,
Where thorns and thistles grow
And cords ensnare me.
Though doubted and denied,
He never leaves my side,
But lifts my head and calls me to follow.
"Thorns and thistles" is a reference to the fallen world in which we live. We walk with Christ on a narrow road in a land of thorns and thistles. The way of the Christian is difficult. But the good news is that we walk with Christ. Though we doubt him, deny him, and fail him countless times he is always with us, lifting us up and calling us anew to continue following him.
"for the righteous falls seven times and rises again..." (Proverbs 24:16)
"Seven times" indicates completion. Our failure and our sin is complete. It couldn't get any more sinful. Yet because of the presence of Christ with us we rise again and continue on the way. We cannot help but do so thanks to his grace.
3. PASS ME NOT O GENTLE SAVIOR
Style: Our version will be easily recognized as the traditional melody, though we will play it in the style of Red Mountain Band with a more southern, alt-country feel. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: This hymn was originally written by Fanny Crosby in 1868. Crosby is one of the most famous and beloved hymn writers of the past 200 years. This song has been widely covered in its history by artists that include Bob Dylan and MC Hammer. In this song we entreat the Savior to help us, not to pass us by. This is an appropriate song for this moment in worship because after we have acknowledged God for his goodness we are turning to reflect on our own brokenness and sinful response to God. We are beginning to detect our need for a savior. As we sing this song we ought to attempt to cast off all other helps and false saviors that we turn to in order to absolve ourselves of sin. We should turn to Jesus, the true savior, and pray for his help.
4. WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS?
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is slow and somber yet contains lots of energy.
Song Info: This song comes to us from 1811 and the American South. It is often considered a spiritual and was written during the Second Great Awakening. The author of the lyrics is probably anonymous but the melody is based on a traditional English melody. For the music geeks out there, this hymn is sung in the Dorian mode which gives it its haunting quality. There were traditionally 6 verses, though we will only sing 4 of these.
This is a great hymn to sing after hearing the sermon and before celebrating the Lord's Supper. In the sermon we hear of God's love in giving us his Son. This song celebrates the giving of the Son and prepares our hearts to receive him in the Lord's Supper.
5. ONLY YOUR BLOOD IS ENOUGH
Style: This is a contemporary and mid-tempo song. It has an indie-rock feel.
Song Info: This song was produced as part of a collection that Sojourn Church produced of re-tooled Isaac Watts hymns. Though this song is unique enough to be considered original, it is adapted from Isaac Watt's Psalm 51 Part 2. The lyrics and music were written by Neil Robins and it was released onOver the Grave in 2009. This song is appropriate at this point in the service because it recognizes the need for a savior. We have sung about God's goodness, our sin, and now we will sing about our need for a savior. As the song says: "No bleeding bird, no bleeding beast, no hyssop branch, no priest, no running brook, no flood, no sea can wash away this stain from me. Only your blood is enough to cover my sin." Here, with an eye on our sin, we ought to prepare our hearts to hear the sermon and to hear about the hope we have in the gospel of Christ.
See you Sunday!