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Category — Worship

Come All Ye Pining

Lord, we adore thy boundless grace,
The heights and depths unknown,
Of pardon, life, and joy, and peace,
In thy beloved Son.

Come, all ye pining, hungry poor,
The Saviour’s bounty taste;
Behold a never-failing store
For every willing guest.

O wondrous gifts of love divine,
Dear Source of every good;
Jesus, in thee what glories shine!
How rich thy flowing blood!

Here shall your numerous wants receive
A free, a full supply;
He has unmeasured bliss to give,
And joys that never die.

Anne Steele, Gadsby #1039

(Retuned hymn is a track off the highly recommended album All Things New by Red Mountain Music)

January 13, 2013   1 Comment

Both profound and accessible


“Hymnologist Erik Routley once defined hymns as “songs for unmusical people to sing together . . . [and] such poetry as unliterary people can utter together.” At first, this might seem to exult in the lack of artistry. But Routley was actually writing to appreciate the remarkable skill of poets and musicians who accept the challenge to be both profound and accessible at the same time, which is a lot more difficult than simply being one or the other. While there is a kind of beauty in a carefully-honed studio recording, there is another kind of beauty -– an often remarkable and haunting beauty -– in the sound of a congregation of mostly unmusical people singing together.”

– John Witvliet, from For the Beauty of the Church

January 7, 2013   No Comments

Merry Christmas.


Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the Long-expected;
Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.

(Aurelius C. Prudentius, c. 413)

(Image: Adoration of the Magi, Rembrandt)

December 25, 2012   No Comments

St. Andrews Hymns: Safely Home

I’m quite enjoying St. Andrews Hymns: Safely Home, a new album of retuned and rearranged hymns. What stands out to me with this collection is that all the arrangements are singable for a typical congregation (I believe they were developed for corporate worship). And while the original tune for Come Thou Fount is still tops in my book, the St. Andrews version is tasteful and lovely. See their accompanying website for chord charts and background info on most of the hymns.

Favorite tracks on initial listen: You Came To Us, Always, Down At the Cross.

July 12, 2012   No Comments

My God has broke the serpentʼs teeth

My God, how many are my fears
How fast my foes increase
Conspiring my eternal death
They break my fleeting peace

The lying tempter would persuade
My heart to doubt your aid
And all my swelling sins appear
Much greater than your grace

Arise, Oh Lord, fulfill your grace
While I your glory sing;
My God has broke the serpentʼs teeth
And death has lost his sting

But you my glory and my strength
Will on my tempter tread
Will silence all my threatening guilt
And raise my drooping head.

And though the hosts of death and hell
All armed against me stand
No more will terrors shake my soul;
Secure within your hand.

April 8, 2012   No Comments

The aim of Ash Wednesday

“The aim of Ash Wednesday worship is threefold: to meditate on our mortality, sinfulness, and need of a savior; to renew our commitment to daily repentance in the Lenten season and in all of life; and to remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin. Ash Wednesday worship, then, is filled with gospel truth. It is a witness to the power and beauty of our union with Christ and to the daily dying and rising with Christ that this entails.”

– The Worship Sourcebook

For some excellent meditative music for this season, I recommend the beautiful album Fragments of Grace by City Hymns (also available via Spotify).

Today I am especially appreciating the lyrics for How Long, O Lord (Track 8):

How long, O Lord, shall I complain like one that seeks his God in vain?
Canst thou thy face forever hide, and I still pray and be denied?

But I have trusted in thy grace, and shall again behold thy face

Shall I forever be forgot, as one whom thou regardest not?
Still shall my soul thy absence mourn, and still despair of thy return?

How long shall my poor troubled breast Be with these anxious thoughts oppressed? And Satan, my malicious foe,Rejoice to see me sunk so low?

Whate’er my fears or foes suggest, thou art my hope, my joy, my rest;
My heart shall feel thy love, and raise my cheerful voice to songs of praise.

But I have trusted in thy grace, and shall again behold thy face.

For more on Ash Wednesday, see last year’s post.

February 22, 2012   No Comments

Speech, silence, song

Convicting and challenging words from Sinclair Ferguson’s powerful exposition of James 3:

The man who can control his tongue can control himself. When the great masters of the Christian life have reflected on this, they have reflected on this in a certain way, not by speech, but by lack of speech. The man who has bridled his tongue is not just a man who knows how to use his tongue, but who also knows when to remain silent. The man who has bridled his tongue can also move from silence into speaking. There seem to be two camps in Christianity, those who prefer to remain silent, and those who overspeak.

When James speaks about the mastery of the tongue, he isn’t just speaking about the words we use. He is speaking about the sensitivity to use the words that are necessary, those that are sensitive and gracious, and then to remain silent when such silence is necessary. James’ words are also intended for those who are prone to remain silent, so that they would be able to speak for the sake of the gospel.

In James 1:26, he throws out the overture of the symphony of his teaching. “If anyone thinks he is religious and cannot control his tongue, he deceives his tongue.” I think it’s very searching to think that my inability to speak may be an expression of my inability to bridle my tongue, and vice versa. The ability, by God’s grace, to say the right thing to the right person at the right time in the power of the Holy Spirit in faith is a magnificent grace in the life of the believer . . .

“We live in a time when people think that God saves us and we do the rest. We need to see that God’s word sanctifies us. That the more people feed us with the Word, the more I awake in the morning and feed myself with the Scriptures, the more Christ will do his sanctifying work, the more Christ will train my tongue as his word molds me and shapes me. In that, our Savior is our example.

But he is not only our example. In order to be that, he must be our Savior. . .

Isaiah 53 says that “he was oppressed and afflicted, and he opened not his mouth . . . ”

Why was Jesus silent? My friends, he was silent because of every word that by nature has proceeded from your lips, which would be adequate reason for God to damn you for all eternity, because you have cursed him and his image, and Jesus has come into the world to bear the judgment of God against the sin of our tongues. When he stood before the judgment seat of Pontius and the high priest, be accepted the sentence, “ Be silent,” and bore in his body on the tree the sins of my lips and my tongue.

Many of you wish you could control your tongue better. You want to follow the example of Jesus, but you need to understand that he’s Savior first, and then he is example.

You need to come, conscious of the sin of your lips and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner. I thank you that Jesus came and was silent in order that he might bear the penalty of all my misuse of my tongue.

Knowing that he has done that, you come to him and say, “O, for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise.”

– From The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12, emphasis added

October 7, 2011   No Comments

Tips for Family Worship

Every so often at my church, we have an all-family service where the kids join the adult service. Usually this is on major holidays (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.), but we have a few others scattered throughout the year. I know it’s sometimes a challenge for parents with small children, though I have to say the kids are generally pretty well behaved and they’ve improved at sitting still since we first started doing this a couple years ago.

Last week, one of the children’s ministry committee members asked me to make an insert for our weekly bulletin that would help prepare parents prepare for our next all-family service. I thought the tips were worth sharing; if you’d like a copy of the insert, it’s linked at the bottom of the post.

Tips for Helping Your Child Worship at Church

  • Take your child to the restroom before service.
  • Arrive early enough to find a good place to sit.
  • Pray with your child, asking God to help both of you listen, learn about, and worship God.
  • Help your child find the Scripture reference for the sermon in his/her Bible. Explain that these are words from God and that the pastor is going to be teaching us about them today!
  • Ask your child to listen for key words.
  • Listen for details from the sermon that you can ask your child about afterward, and then talk about them on the way home. Encourage your child to think of a question to ask you.
  • Help children follow along in the Bible or hymnal. Use your finger under the text.

How do we worship God in church?

  • We worship God by singing praises to Him. The words we sing speak of how wonderful God is and what He has done for us. Singing helps us show our faith and joy in God.
  • We worship God by praying to Him. Sometimes our prayer is a silent one, in our hearts, each one alone. Other times, we pray silently while the pastor is praying aloud to God. Sometimes we pray aloud together.
  • We worship God by giving to Him when we give money at church. God uses the money to help other people learn about Him. God says that when we give, we should give with glad hearts because we love Him.
  • We worship God by listening to what He says. God speaks to us when the pastor reads the Bible and when he explains the Bible to us. God is pleased when we listen to His word and take it into our hearts.
  • We worship God by being quiet. When we are quiet we can think about God, how wonderful He is, and how good He is. This helps our hearts and minds get ready to worship God because we are thinking about Him, and not other things.

Download the insert

(Tips slightly adapted from First Evangelical Presbyterian Church)

September 30, 2011   No Comments

Modern hymns from Page CXVI

Regular readers of this blog know my appreciation for modern hymns — both completely new ones and old ones re-arranged to make timeless truths accessible to this generation. Page CXVI is a modern hymn project that does both these things very well.

In preparation for their fourth album release on October 4th, Page CXVI is releasing a new track on their blog every Tuesday. I particularly love this beautiful arrangement of Amazing Grace, which inventively combines the new and familiar:

Also check out their giveaway of several free tracks from earlier albums.

Visit the Page CXVI website and blog and be encouraged!


September 27, 2011   No Comments

A few new worship resources

A few new worship resources that have come my way in the past couple of days are well worth checking out. (For more resources, see this post.)

My Song in the Night

A new website from Bobby and Kristen Gilles (of Sojourn Music) that focuses on songwriting and church communications.

Highlights so far:

Visit My Song in the Night.

Avoiding Convenience: A Word to Hymn Writers

An article from Fernando Ortega that, while aimed at songwriters, offers wisdom for anyone wanting to think more deeply about the words we sing on Sundays. An excerpt:

There are so many Biblical scenes to choose from that would make for beautiful songs: the transfiguration of Christ, the feeding of the five thousand, the woman at the well, the stoning of Stephen, water baptism, washing of the disciple’s feet, the betrayal of Judas. If just a few good modern hymn writers tackled some of these subjects, the anguish that untold thousands of music ministers suffer weekly could be greatly diminished.

Also includes a beautiful recording of the hymn Come Down, O Love Divine. Read the entire article.

Two Articles via Getty Music

  • Reprint of an old, but still timely, article from composer JAC Redford that calls for a Christian renaissance in the arts. An excerpt:

    “Where are the creative men and women – the writers, the artists, the filmmakers – who will capture the imagination of our confused world in the name of Christ? Where are those who will expose by their work the vanities and contradictions of our age, and affirm with all the skill they can muster that only in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?”

    . . . On first reading these words, my reaction was simply: “Where do I sign up? Lord, let me be one of those artists!” These thoughts have since risen to a torrent of ideas with their source in a long held and deeply felt vocation in music. I’m grateful for this opportunity to put some of them into print . . . What we need is a fresh work of God, a “new song,” radical revival from the roots up and the inside out. And I believe we also need a Christian renaissance in the arts to drive God’s truth home to the hungry heart of secular man.

    Read the entire article.

  • Isaac Watts: The Reformer You Know by Heart but Not by Name, by Mike Cosper. A few thoughts on why Watts should matter to worship leaders and many others today. An excerpt:

    This is one of the most interesting facts about Watts; he was the consummate pastoral artist. He found the English Psalms written by his contemporaries to be wanting for their lack of beauty. He wrote many times about the power of poetry to stir emotions, and it serves as a reminder that worship should not only be concerned with truth. It should also be beautiful. The Psalms themselves are magnificent poems. New Testament hymns like Colossians 1 and Philippians 2 are beautiful and poetic, and the work of the pastor should include wrestling with language that illumines the beauty of the gospel and the glory of Jesus. But we can also see that beauty is a servant of truth—it is put to use for the sake of illuminating and illustrating the truth, not for its own sake.

    Read the entire article.


September 20, 2011   3 Comments