Thursday, October 30, 2008

Choosing songs for worship

I read a couple of posts recently on how not to write worship songs -- funny if not so often true. 

Big Point Not To Be Missed: In every age when there is an explosion of new hymns & songs -- think late 18th cent England, late 19th cent America/"gospel song" -- you can find many songs that surely failed at building up the body. Many songs were published that never lived past their generation. Many songs would have failed a "10 point test" back then. To my dear Reformed friends who find contemporary songs ill-suited for worship, I remind you that poor song-writing is not some new affliction, or some argument against our sing God's praise afresh for our generation. May God give us more the like of Getty, Kauflin, Altrogge, Tomlin, etc. May God give us anew the "songs of Zion" in ways that speak to the hearts of our generation.

It occured to me that choosing our songs for this Sunday's worship is no less daunting a task -- and one requiring as much care and prayer. I remembered something I read in one of my (many) old hymnals -- a plymouth brethren (1881) edited by Darby. And -- wonderfully -- I found it tonight online. So here it is -- good reflections for choosing songs. I don't think the theological difference we (Reformed) have with his dispensationalism muddy his points. They are well worth considering:

Three things are needed for a hymn book;

1. a basis of truth and sound doctrine;
2. something, at least, of the spirit of poetry, though not poetry itself, which is objectionable, as merely the spirit and imagination of man;
3. and thirdly, the most difficult to find of all, that experimental acquaintance with truth in the affections which enables a person to make his hymn – if led of God to compose one – the vehicle, in sustained thought and language, of practical grace and truth which sets the soul in communion with Christ, and rises even to the Father, and yet this in such sort that it is not mere individual experience, which, for assembly worship, is out of place.

In a word, the Father's love, and Christ developed in the soul's affections, rising in praise back again to its source. God alone can give this so as to meet the wants of an assembly.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday Setlist AM October 26, 2008

Yesterday was one of special emphases. On the last Sunday morning of each month we have “Friend Sunday,” where we try to present the gospel in its simple, awesome wonder. Among other things, we plan the service to be just a bit shorter than usual. The sermon concerned the parable of the man finding a treasure and selling all he had to buy it – on the great delight we find in God, on the treasure Christ is to us.

How high and how wide  F

A good opener: from Mark Altrogge (sovereign grace) – lots of Scripture references in this one. It calls us to praise the God of grace who loves us by sending his Son to the cross for sinners.

Crown him  C

We began our song set rehearsing why we praise Christ so.

O my soul C/Db

A Stuart Townend song to rehearse all that the Lord is, what he has done on the cross, and how he shall ever be for us.

Beneath the cross (traditional)  Db

A song, not so much to explain the cross (we’ve done that already), but to call us to live in light of that cross. It also made for some nice acapella singing.

Oh Lord, your'e beautiful  D

I really like this Keith Greene song – our response to all we’ve contemplated. This closed the set.

Knowing you  A/Bb

Before the sermon: This from Graham Kendrick – to sum up the vast treasure Christ is to his people. I'll put the evening set in another post.

This post is a part of Sunday Setlists hosted by

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Multiple styles of worship?

I found these two insights at The Worshiping Community in a thread about churches having multiple styles of worship for different services. We see it here in our town -- churches having a "traditional," "contemporary," or "blended" services. Intuitively I've never liked the idea. Here's some real-world experience having their say. Worth pondering.

By the way, when pushed to describe our music/worship style, I say "eclectic." Never liked "blended" -- sounds like some kind of jello and whip cream concoction.

Russ Hutto writes,

What a lot of larger churches that serve up buffet style worship are seeing a generation later is that segregating the church based on worship preference is successful in 2 things:

1) Dividing the church.
2) De-emphasizing the family.

Lemleroy writes,

I found this quote from J.I. Packer pertaining to multiple worship styles. I thought it'd be appropriate to post as a followup to my original post. This is an excerpt from Shane Rosenthal's "An Interview with J. I. Packer: The State of Evangelicalism" in Modern Reformation. J. I. Packer is the author of the Christian classic, "Knowing God".

Shane Rosenthal: "What do you think about a niche marketing approach that has by virtue of the different worship styles - teen pop, alternative, and adult boomer - created generational segregation?"

J. I. Packer: "We have separated the ages, very much to the loss of each age. In the New Testament, the Christian church is an all-age community, and in real life the experience of the family to look no further should convince us that the interaction of the ages is enriching. The principle is that generations should be mixed up in the church for the glory of God. That doesn't mean we shouldn't disciple groups of people of the same age or the same sex separately from time to time. That's a good thing to do. But for the most part, the right thing is the mixed community in which everybody is making the effort to understand and empathize with all the other people in the other age groups. Make the effort is the key phrase here. Older people tend not to make the effort to understand younger people, and younger people are actually encouraged not to make the effort to understand older people. That's a loss of a crucial Christian value in my judgment. If worship styles are so fixed that what's being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don't believe the worship style glorifies God, and some change, some reformation, some adjustment, and some enlargement of spiritual vision is really called for."

Because of Mercy,
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Music Team Objectives

I sent this out last week to the music team -- kind of a big-picture look. You may not care for the idea of "worship team." I'm not crazy about it -- or, for that matter, for "worship leader." So we use different words at times. 

For those who want to come among us, this explains what we're about. Maybe later I'll put up the expectations we have for each other.

Music Team Objectives

Each week we rehearse and prepare over ten songs for public worship – every key, transition, modulation – and who plays when, how loudly, etc. And there can be as many seven instrumentalists for a service.

We also have to do the (often) hard work of musicianship – solving musical challenges so we sound our best.

We are ‘performing’ on Sunday. It is ‘sacred performance’ to be sure – with a goal of delighting the audience of One: We do what we do for the Lord, not for human applause. But make no mistake here: We do perform – and we must bring our best skills to bear (because we want the congregation to engage in heart-felt worship).

We must coordinate our efforts with the sound board tech – so that the musical product we strive for can be heard throughout the sanctuary and MCTS room.

As we can, we want to bring in new folks – and nurture them in their musical skills.

You should see both musical and spiritual improvement for having been on the team.

We want our hearts stirred and challenged before Sunday ever comes. We want to be those most ready in Sunday’s services to praise God! We want to show up on Sunday with eager joy!

Because of Mercy,



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Sunday Setlist for October 19, 2008

You are holy (Prince of Peace)  E

a great opener to bring us face to face with God's great wisdom and mercy


My hope is built  E

We had the guitar lead today on every song -- we've always been a piano-led church, so this was a first. The piano was only for decoration, harmonic support.  Hence I chose songs that the congregation knows really well.  I wanted the transitions to feel natural -- to keep the flow smooth

We are the body of Christ  E/F  

Ordinarily I wouldn't program this song so early in the set -- but we kept the tempo brighter than normal (same beat/groove as "my hope is built"). The pastor continued his exposition of James, 4:11-12. It speaks to how we speak about each other, to be reminded that we are, in fact, brothers and sisters, one body. Hence the song.

Modulations can be tricky -- I had the piano sit on the E chord, than a C chord (and the guitar had time to move his capo). The pickup is SO (solfegge), so key change was smooth.

O for a thousand  F/G  

Wesley wrote this as a testimony to God's grace in his own life -- so the entire 19 stanzas explain God's conquering his soul. We sang vv. 1,2,3,12,8. "Glory to God, and praise and love be ever, ever given by saints below and saints above, the church in earth and heaven" That kind of song is a natural lead-in for us to:

How great is our God  G  

What a wonderful song. You know it ministers to people when you hear them say they find themselves singing while they walk down the aisle at Walmart. (That's probably not the deepest analysis I should give, but you get the idea.)

B/4 the Sermon: 

My Jesus I love Thee E

We combined this with the chorus of "The Mystery of the Cross" (Sovereign Grace Praise). It had a real cross-centered focus while having an intimate feel.  

What a privilege to point people to the cross! 

In the evening...

We went retro, using piano only and hymnal. It was a baptismal service (a wonderful time of rehearsing God's amazing grace). So we only sang 3 hymns at various points in the service: "Come you who bow to sovereign grace," "What ye ask me is my prize," and "Amazing Grace." 

This post is a part of Sunday Setlists hosted by


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Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday Setlist October 12, 2008

Morning Worship: Pastor Ted (HBC/Owensboro) preached from James 4:8b-10, continuing his exposition.

Salvation Belongs To Our God  G

 our opening song

Song Set:

Our God Our Help Bb

   We began with the greatness of God, the One who is "infinite, eternal and unchangeable"

Great Is The Lord (Michael W. Smith) Bb

Come Thou Fount Bb/C

Wonderful Merciful Savior C

Open Our Eyes C/Db

Sermon Hymn:

God The Creator D 

   to the tune of "Be Thou My Vision," a wonderful hymn by Margaret Clarkson, extolling God the Creator, God of the Ages, God of Redemption, God of his people, and God of our Now

Small band -- piano, guitar, djembe, vocalists

Evening Worship: Pastor Joe continued his exposition of John 17, preaching vv.6-10.

Since I wanted to introduce a song (“Glorious and Mighty”) during the service, I played it beforehand from the cd, having everyone follow the text on the screen.


Give Me One Pure And Holy Passion  C


We Come O Christ To You 

     (tune: darwall)  C

 Margaret Clarkson again

Your Great Name We Praise  F

   Bob Kauflin's modernizing of "Immortal Invisible"

Glorious and Mighty  Bb

   The new song. Wonderful! A setting of Psalm 96 from the Psalms cd from Sovereign Grace.

Jesus, Your Name  Bb


Larger band: piano, 2 guitars, bass guitar, djembe, vocalists


This post is a part of Sunday Setlists hosted by

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A Beginning...a very good place to start

Greetings to all in Christ,

Under our pastors' leadership, I am privileged to "lead  (the musical part of our) worship" at Heritage Baptist Church, Owensboro, KY. We are a confessional church (1689 2nd London Baptist). In our worship we strive to be "rooted and relevant" (to borrow Bob Kauflin's wonderful insight). BTW, we've attended both worshipGod06 and 08.

We love old hymns with lots of words and content. We like names such as Newton, Cowper, Toplady, Gadsby, and the like. We also like such names as Kauflin, Altrogge, Getty, Tomlin, and more. We drink deeply from such sources as SovereignGrace music , the music of Keith Getty, and Indelible Grace. We are, in fact, having IGrace come here in November (the 12th), at a nearby church, Dawson BC.

I mean this blog to be a place to post our setlists from each Lord's Day, and to interact with others involved in the same kind of labor -- especially (but not exclusively) with other confessionally Reformed churches who are trying to bring the riches and insights of reformed hymnody into the 21st century.

Talk back to me.

Because of Mercy,
David Goodwin
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