Preparing for Worship - May 28, 2017
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series on the Sermon on the Mount. This week Pastor Matt will be looking at Jesus' words on adultery, lust, divorce, and remarriage. This has historically been a controversial topic in the church and in the culture at large. But the teachings of Jesus provide both with much needed direction, wisdom, and grace on these weighty matters. To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. REJOICE (COME AND STAND BEFORE YOUR MAKER)
Style: This is a contemporary, up-tempo song that is perfect for a call to worship.
Song Info: This song was written as a collaborative effort between two of my favorite worship artists: Stuart Townend and Dustin Kensrue. It first appeared on Kensrue's 2013 album The Water and the Blood - in my opinion one of the greatest modern worship albums released in a long time. This song calls us to rejoice in the Lord, our maker. It leads us to sing and meditate on God's infinite perfections. It's appropriate here because we should come to God first with praise and adoration. Before we confess our sin, before we acknowledge our needs, before we make any requests we ought to first praise God and adore him for who he is.
2. 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.
Our own Damon Gray took the time to chart out a lead sheet of this version. May it bless the church at large. See below:
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. NEW AGAIN
Style: This song is up-tempo with a very celebratory spirit. It is perfect as a benedictorial, sending song. Worship will conclude with a recognition that Christ has risen in victory and a call to go and tell the world.
Song Info: This song was written and produced by Brooks Ritter and Mike Cosper of Sojourn Church in Louisville Kentucky. It is a celebration of the victory of the resurrection. "Death is defeated and Jesus reigns, tell the world there is hope in his name". In the name of Jesus we have hope that, though we will suffer death, we too will rise in victory. Death cannot defeat the people of God because death could not defeat Jesus - the king of God's people. This song sends us out into the world in hope and with the message of the gospel in our heart and on our lips.
See you Sunday!