Preparing for Worship - March 19, 2017
“Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called on to suffer. In fact it is a joy and a token of his grace.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship
What does it mean to suffer for righteousness's sake? Why is it important that we understand this today? Join us as we explore these questions in looking at the final beatitude - "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake..." (Matt 5:10-12). To view our full liturgy click here. 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. COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song info: This hymn comes to us from Robert Robinson, a pastor in the eighteenth century. One comment of explanation will suffice for this well-known hymn. In the second verse the "Ebenezer stone" is mentioned. This is a reference to a stone raised by Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12. This stone was a monument setup to remind God's people that it is God that had helped them up until that point in their history. It was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt and cleared out the land of promise and established them in the land. And it was the Lord who would continue to be their help so long as they remained faithful to him. "Ebenezer" means rock of help. This song evokes that image in order to cause us to pause and meditate on our own lives and how the Lord has helped us up until now. It also admonishes us to continue to rely on him and look to him to help us reach our final destination - the New Heavens and New Earth.
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. AH, HOLY JESUS
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is low-tempo and perfectly suited for post-sermon reflection and preparation for the Lord's Supper.
Song Info: Ah Holy Jesus is a German hymn from 1630 by Johann Hermann. The tune itself was composed by Johann Crüger but has been used by various other composers including JS Bach and Johannes Brahms. It has a beautiful and enduring melody and equally beautiful lyrics. The song is a meditation upon the cross. Why was innocent Jesus crucified? It was not because of his sin, but ours. "Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered. The slave hath sinned and the Son hath suffered". The song concludes with a confession that we can by no means repay Jesus. All that is left for us to do is adore him and offer our lives as sacrifices of thanksgiving to the king.
5. THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE CAN NEVER FAIL
Style: This song is set to a contemporary melody and is played in a country-music style. It is lower tempo.
Song Info: This is another song produced by the Red Mountain Band and was released in 2006. Red Mountain specializes in finding old, sometimes lost hymns that have fallen into disuse and revitalizing them. This particular hymn comes from Gadsby's Hymnal, a hymnal produced by baptist minister William Gadsby in the nineteenth century. The main theme of this song is the sojourning life of the Christian. The opening line: "We travel through a barren land/ with dangers thick on every hand" summarizes it nicely. Though the tunes are very different, this hymn has much in common with "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". Both recognize the perilous world that we journey through as we head toward the kingdom of God. Both also recognize Jesus' inability to fail. And because Jesus cannot fail we cannot fail because we are his people and he journeys with us.
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!