Preparing for Worship - March 25, 2018
This Sunday is Palm Sunday - the last Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is remembered on this day, so many songs that we'll be singing will be tied to this theme. We will be continuing in our series on Exodus. Here are the songs we'll be singing together:
1. HAIL TO THE LORD'S ANOINTED
Style: We are playing a contemporary, alt-country version of this old hymn/psalm. It is up-tempo and joyful.
Song Info: The lyrics to this tune were originally composed by Scottish poet, hymn-writer, and activist James Montgomery in 1822. His original lyrics are almost entirely preserved, although slightly altered, by Sandra McCracken in this version that we are singing. She also set the words to new music which she composed. Montgomery's words were based heavily on Psalm 72 and in many Psalters this song is associated with Psalm 72.
Psalm 72 is a Royal Psalm written by King David for his son Solomon. It is a plea for God to give his justice and wisdom to the king so that the reign of the king might bring forth equity and prosperity on earth. This Psalm can be applied to Jesus as "great David's greater son", who is God's anointed king forever. Hail to the Lord's anointed!
2. LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, YE MIGHTY GATES
Style: We will be playing the traditional version of this hymn. It will be a slow tempo.
Song Info: This classic hymn was originally part of George Frideric Handel's Messiah in 1741. It has come to be considered a Christmas song about Christ's advent but it's actually about Christ's ascension into heaven after the resurrection. It comes from Psalm 24 - the Psalm of ascension. In that Psalm, the king of glory is coming to his glorious throne in Jerusalem. The gates of Jerusalem are to lift up for him to enter. This song connects that Psalm to Jesus Christ entering the heavenly throne room and sitting next to God the Father after his victory of the cross had been won. It also connects the ascension to the filling of the Holy Spirit that happens to every believer. Christ is seated in heaven with the Father but also seated in our hearts and lives by the Holy Spirit.
3. LO HE COMES WITH CLOUDS DESCENDING
Style: We will play this in its traditional version. It is up tempo and joyful.
Song Info: This hymn was one of the many famous (and forgotten) hymns of Charles Wesley. Inspired by Revelation 1:7, John 20:24-31, Revelation 22:20, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, this hymn is about an eager anticipation of the return of Christ. Sometimes it is sung as an Advent hymn because of its focus on the coming of Christ. But it is appropriate for all seasons. The church should sing "O Come Quickly!" as she thinks about her long sojourn on earth in this age. This hymn helps us to not be too closely attached to this world and to eagerly anticipate the coming of the kingdom of God in glory.
4. GO TO DARK GETHSEMANE
Style: This is a very old tune played in choral and medieval style. It is dark, somber, and prayerful.
Song Info: You're not likely to hear this particular version of this hymn anywhere but at Faith. That's because we've combined the lyrics with a different melody. The lyrics were written in 1825 by James Montgomery, a prolific poet and hymn writer. The melody we use goes by the name of Aberystwyth, composed by Joseph Parry in 1876. This tune is most commonly paired with Charles Wesley's Jesus, Lover of My Soul.
This song causes the singers to accompany Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane to witness his prayers and suffering. It calls us to learn from Jesus how to pray. We then follow Jesus to his trial and observe his quiet acceptance of condemnation. It calls us to learn from Jesus how to bear the cross. From there we follow Jesus to Calvary's mountain and witness his crucifixion. The song calls us to learn from Jesus how to die to self. Finally we accompany Jesus to the empty tomb and observe the risen Lord. We are called to learn from Jesus how to rise.
5. CROWN HIM WITH MANY CROWNS
Style: We will play this hymn in its traditional style. It is magisterial and joyful.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were written in 1851 by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring. The tune is called "Diademata" which stands behind many other hymns, although this is its most famous setting. From an ecumenical standpoint, this is one of the most widely used hymns among various denominations and churches - appearing in hymn books from Baptist churches to the Roman Catholic Church! Originally boasting 12 verses, we will only sing its most famous 4 verses. The subject matter of this song is on the worthiness of Christ to be crowned will all power, honor, glory, and dominion.
See you Sunday!