Preparing for Worship - March 11, 2018
Join us this Sunday as we venture into Exodus 12 and continue in our series in Exodus. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
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 STILL MY SOUL
Style: We will sing this classic hymn in its traditional style. It is low-tempo, somber, and contemplative.
Song Info: The melody to this hymn was composed in 1900 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written to be a Finnish patriotic song. But the melody is so good and has become so popular that is has been since used as the melody for six different Christian hymns and various other songs. The lyrics were originally written in German by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel in 1752.
Altogether this is a stunning hymn. Its content is especially appropriate for those who are suffering. The great theme of this song is that though this Christian life (and all life on earth) is full of suffering, we have hope and comfort in Jesus Christ through his resurrection from the dead. The hymn calls us to be patient in tribulation and to rejoice in hope. Though we suffer now because of illness, tragedy, sin, persecution, and repentance we have the sure and certain hope of resurrection. This makes it so that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us when Jesus returns.
This is an appropriate time in worship to sing this song because it helps us move from praising the glory and grace of God to recognizing our own fallen condition.
3. COME YE SINNERS
Style: We will be playing a contemporary, modified version of this hymn. One of the shining virtues of the traditional hymn is its haunting melody. Thankfully, the version we are playing preserves the original melody and nearly all of the original lyrics. It's updated slightly to suit popular modern tastes.
Song Info: The lyrics were written by Joseph Hart in the 18th century. Hart was a hymn writer and minister in London, but he did not become converted until age 45. For much of his life he lived in opposition to God. This hymn seems particularly suited to his story. My favorite line is: "Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall. If you tarry til you're better you will never come at all." This version of the song was arranged and produced by Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. Sojourn is a young, but large, reformed congregation in Louisville that is responsible for producing much excellent music and planting many healthy churches around the United States.
4. BLEST IS THE MAN
Style: While this particular song was arranged recently, the tune is a familiar traditional American tune. It is low-tempo, prayerful, and having a celtic/traditional american folk feel.
Song Info: The lyrics were composed by Isaac Watts in 1719 as a part of his psalter. Isaac Watts undertook to make the psalms metrical, give them rhyme, and even to "Christianize" them in certain places. This means that wherever he believed that a psalm alluded to Jesus, he would make it more explicit. This particular song has a few examples of this. His words are a Christianized version of Psalm 32.
Psalm 32 is a Psalm of David and a psalm of an individual giving thanks to God. It was likely written some time shortly after Psalm 51 - David's famous Psalm of penitence. The Psalm recounts the blessings associated with forgiveness of sin. David likely wrote this Psalm after experiencing the agony of being confronted about his sin and being exposed. He then humbled himself with prayer and fasting and returned to fellowship with the Lord. This Psalm is likely the result of this experience.
We can sing these words with David as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Supper, which always ought to be a time of being confronted with our sin, humbling ourselves, confessing our sin, and receiving God's assurance of pardon.
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!