Preparing for Worship - September 1, 2019
Join us this Sunday as we continue in our series in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. This week we take a look at Acts 17 wherein Paul first visits Thessalonica and plants a church there. We see from this story that planting a church was no easy task. The apostles experienced opposition as they did in many other places. We will focus on three obstacles to the gospel that Paul faced in Thessalonica and that we continue to face today in our own city and our own hearts. Here are the songs we’ll sing together:
1. How Great Thou Art
Style: We will be blending traditional and contemporary elements in this song. The melody and chords will be the familiar, traditional arrangement though we will play this song a bit more up-tempo with an alt-country feel.
Song Info: This well known hymn has a long translation history. It is based on a poem written in Swedish, then translated into German, then into Russian, then into English from the Russian. Stuart K Hine is responsible for the English version that we all know, which originated in 1949. The melody is a traditional Swedish melody. This hymn is one of the most popular of all time, second only to Amazing Grace.
This hymn makes an excellent call to worship because it is all about approaching God with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. We are taught in Scripture to come into his presence of God with praise and thanksgiving before we come with requests or even confession of sin.
2. Holy, Holy, Holy
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song with a "folk rock" sort of feel. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: This hymn is one of the most famous and popular hymns of all time. It was written by Reginald Heber in the late 18th century. Its main focus is on the Trinity. It was even written to be used on "Trinity Sunday" but it has become much more widely used and beloved. It's appropriate at this moment in the worship service because we are still meditating on the transcendence and glory of God but also beginning to recognize our own inadequacies. The hymn sings: "...though the eyes of sinful man thy glory may not see."
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. 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.
5. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
Style: We will be singing a more contemporary version of this song arranged by Indelible Grace. It is up-tempo and joyful with a folk-rock feel.
Song Info: The lyrics to this hymn were written in the nineteenth century by Scottish minister and hymn writer George Matheson. Though Matheson wrote several hymns, this is the only one that still enjoys popularity today. Matheson wrote this hymn on the eve of his sister's wedding. Matheson had previously been engaged himself, but his engagement was ended because he was going blind. His bride-to-be decided that she could not live the rest of her life with a blind man and broke the engagement. After that time he was cared for by his sister. But he wrote this hymn at a time when his sister would be married and no longer able to be his primary care taker. Emotionally, Matheson looked to God himself as his care taker. He said that he wrote this hymn in the time frame of five minutes.
See you Sunday!