Preparing for Worship - September 4, 2016
This Sunday we continue in our series on Psalm 119 with Psalm 119:33-48 - "The Bible and Spiritual Maturity". We'll be talking about why the Bible is so important for spiritual growth and what we need to do to unlock its power in our lives. To view our full liturgy click here. Here are the songs we'll be singing together:
1. PRAISE TO THE LORD THE ALMIGHTY
Style: We will be playing a modern take on the traditional version of this song. The melody will be the same but the chords will be simpler. We will play this mid-tempo.
Song Info: The melody of this hymn and original German lyrics date back to 1680 and is attributed to Joachim Neander. Catherine Winkworth translated it into English in 1863. It paraphrases both Psalm 103 and 150. This hymn usually falls under the category of "Praise and Thanksgiving" so it is an ideal song for a call to worship. This song focuses on God's role as creator and sustainer. As we sing it we call ourselves to recognize the work that God has done and is constantly doing to uphold our lives and care for us.
2. A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song. It is low to mid-tempo though the melody and content of the song are very triumphal and full of energy.
Song Info: This famous hymn dates back to the sixteenth century and was written and composed by the German reformer Martin Luther. Luther wrote many hymns, but this is by far his most successful. In the nineteenth century there was some controversy as to whether or not Luther wrote the music, but recent scholarship on the issue suggests that he indeed did.
This hymn is a paraphrase of Psalm 46 and, in typical Luther fashion, very much focuses on spiritual warfare. The song is about the trials that we face in choosing to follow Christ - both sorrow in this age and also especial hardship that comes from the assaults of Satan. It is also about the glorious victory that we already have in Christ. This was something of a life-theme for Luther, who himself face many trials and was chiefly responsible for the reformation in Germany. This is one of my favorite hymns of all time.
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. HELP MY UNBELIEF
Style: This is another low-tempo song done in a contemporary and somewhat indie-rock kind of style.
Song Info: This song was originally composed by John Newton (also responsible for Amazing Grace) in the eighteenth century. It was rearranged by Clint Wells in 2005 and recorded by Red Mountain Band. The lyrics to this song are stunning. We place it after the sermon in order to help us respond to the gospel and prepare our hearts to receive Christ in communion. The song is a confession of sin and a confession of our need for God's grace. The song confesses rightly that we cannot even respond to God unless he helps us:
"I would but can’t repent,
though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
till Jesus makes it soft."
Style: This is a contemporary song from Hillsong United. It's low-tempo.
Song Info: This song was produced by Hillsong in 2011 and has experienced great popularity since that time. It borrows heavily from the classic hymn "On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand". The principle motif of this song is the idea of the cornerstone. Jesus is called the cornerstone both in this song and in Scripture. "Cornerstone" refers to the most important stone in the temple of God. And to say that Jesus is the cornerstone is to acknowledge him as the foundation - the most important thing - of our lives and to recognize that God is building up his church into a new temple wherein his Holy Spirit can dwell.
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!