Saturday, February 28, 2009

On removing distractions...

This is part 2 to the previous post, about things "worship leaders" do that distract/annoy people. 
I want to focus tightly on admonition for the music guy himself, the one leading the singing. This isn't about one's own heart-preparation, pastoral perspective, etc.
I'm just looking here how we can remove distractions we don't need to have. Besides some stuff in that blog that I can't ever imagine happening in a reformed church (prob'ly because I don't get out much), these pitfalls should be noted and avoided. (Again, at HBC our 'band' faces forward -- so some of the distracting things mentioned don't happen here.)

-- too often and too much, breaking the flow of the set
-- speaking the next line of the song as we're about to sing it (even though they can see it on the screen)
-- inauthentic speech (using title of next song as comment/intro, talking that doesn't seem truly driven by the moment, scripted-sounding prayer)

-- doesn't know the songs well
-- typos on the screen
-- starting the service late!
-- opening the service with low energy
-- poorly rehearsed key changes

-- talks to cong as if we're at a high school pep rally or rock concert
-- telling people what to do ("everyone raise your hands") This one is really a matter of understanding the church's culture. In our fellowship they want almost no such direction ever.

-- repetition without purpose
-- poor transitions, no flow between songs
-- mumbled singing/poor diction
-- poor use of mics during singing

-- lives one way, but turns on the "godly" on Sunday morning

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"I hate it when my worship leader..."

Read this with discernment, but there are good lessons for us to learn and mistakes to avoid. See here. Read More......

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Need help fixing words to a song

Need help fixing some words to a song:
   Several months ago when we sang this song, our elders requested that we fix the words to v.1 of The Gospel is True. Can you help me out here? Comment on why we should keep the words as they are, or suggest an improvement. I'm drawing a blank....

UPDATE: Mark Redfern suggests:
"We have a God who's forgiven us, and paid for all our sin"

   The words below in bold do seem ambiguous. On the cross we were not actually forgiven. (It's the same kind of mistake made in some old gospel songs.) Forgiveness is a part of our own personal salvation experience -- God's sovereign grace to bring us to faith (the ordo salutis). Better to say, on the cross our forgiveness was secured (i.e., particular atonement). To borrow from John Murray, on the cross all that was needed to secure our forgiveness was accomplished. In our own personal history, then, the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Christ's atonement to us -- i.e. justification (both forgiveness from our sins and the application (imputation) of Christ's righteousness).

   So what does it mean (below) that God forgave us "while we were yet in sin"?

Verse 1:
We have a hope that is living / and love that never will end
We have a God who's forgiven us / while we were yet in sin
Chorus 1:
Thank you Jesus / O how we worship you
Thank you Jesus / Hallelujah the gospel is true

The Gospel Is True / David Hampton | Scott Wesley Brown / Copyright:
©1997 SongWard Music / CCLI: 2119795

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How loud is too loud?

Check out Bob Kauflin's article, "How loud the worship team?" at his blog site,

In my judgment, at HBC we do NOT have the problem of being too loud -- in fact, often we need much more sound. I realize that musical tastes and musical judgments vary widely. If you're not used to an amplified guitar, for instance, any volume sounds too high. Nevertheless, if the congregation near the back of the auditorium can't follow a key or tempo change, then we're not loud enough. If the folks in the back don't know when to come in, then we're not loud enough. Really.

We're still working on sound. I'm thankful for the 3 guys we have -- Dwayne, Dan and David. They work hard at our services! We should probably bring in some professional insight to help us out with mixing, frequency pushing, etc.

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"All Hail the Power of Jesus Name"

I've mentioned that, when possible, we use hymn arrangements from lifewayworship. This is part of the effort by the SBC to create a hymnal "without a back cover." You really should check it out. You pay for it, of course. But then you own the music. Here's a sample from one of last week's hymns.

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Eat the Mic

From Don Chapman at He comments on the right kind of vocal/mic technique in our worship. Good stuff. Read it here. Read More......

Monday, February 23, 2009

Can't help myself

The Youngest Master: Mendelssohn at two hundred by Alex Ross. from The New Yorker. Read it here

Excerpt from Overture to a Midsummer Night's Dream. (He was 16 years old!)

Claudio Abbado conducting the London Symphony, DG 471467.

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Principles for worship at HBC #6

5. We seek a whole person (head and heart) response to God’s Word and work.

All response in worship is based on God’s self-revelation in the Lord Jesus Christ. As God reveals His power, we respond in wonder. As God reveals His holiness, we respond in confession and contrition. As God reveals His grace, we respond in humility. As God reveals His purpose, we respond in surrender and commitment. As God reveals His plans for our lives, we respond in prayer. As God reveals His goodness, we respond in joy, thankfulness, praise and celebration (Is. 6:1-12; Ps. 100:4-5).

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Sunday Setlist 2/22/9

This was our monthly "Friend Sunday." Sean Melvin preached Heb 1:1-3, [1. God has spoken; 2. God has spoken in his Son; 3. God has spoken completely and finally in his Son.] Jim had a new guitar -- great sound! We had everything going today - piano, synth, guitar, bass, 3 vocals, djembe. The congregation sang really well.

Shine, Jesus, shine
All hail the power
He is exalted
Glorious and mighty -- sovereign grace
Only your mercy
Agnus dei
B/4 & after the sermon
To the only God

Our evening was given to an annual business meeting; only 1 hymn was sung ("Glorious things")

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A serendipitous moment

I was trying to find a treatment of Psalm 116 for morning worship, and came across this hymn from Isaac Watts...

It's only connection to the psalm is v.12, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? This hymn hardly counts as a psalm setting -- but it's so appropriate to our theme, I brought it in anyway. N.B., it's been updated from Watts' original. We sang it to St. Thomas.

What offering shall we give
or what atonement bring
to God by whom alone we live
High Heaven's eternal king

For all the blood of beasts
on ancient altars slain
could never give the conscience peace
or wash away its stain

But Christ the heavenly Lamb
takes all our sins away—
a sacrifice of nobler name
and richer blood than they

In faith I lay my hand
upon his head divine
while as a penitent I stand
and there confess my sin

So I look back to see
the weight he chose to bear
when hanging on the cross for me
because my guilt was there

Believing we rejoice
to see sin's curse removed
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
and sing his bleeding love

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One from the vault

Pastor Sam (Dr. Waldron) loves good hymns and often uses them to illustrate his points while teaching. In his class on soteriology, he used John Kent's 1803 hymn "Twixt Jesus and the chosen race" to open up the point of our union with Christ. 

The hymn appears in several hymnals of its time; Gadsby (#405) called it "Exulting in eternal union with Jesus," then listed John 17:21-23. It's a dense text and requires careful treatment, I think.

The opening stanza reads, "'Twixt Jesus and the chosen race, subsists a bond of sovereign grace, that hell, with its infernal train, shall ne'er dissolve nor rend in twain." This is his theme -- Kent wants us to rejoice in the breadth of our indissoluble union with Jesus -- from eternity, in the history of redemption, and in our own experience.

Kent provided 8 stanzas; apparently few sang all 8 stanzas, even when it was new. In a note from the preface of his hymnal, Wm. Gadsby suggests that, if a hymn be thought too long to sing, one may safely omit stanzas marked with brackets, "without destroying the sense." On this hymn he brackets stanzas 3,5 and 7 -- in other words, sing only 1,2,4,6,8.

The version Pastor Sam used contained only stanzas 3,4,5,6,8.

Spurgeon, in his hymnal, only includes stanzas 1,4,5,6.

I put our singing of it to a LMD tune from sovereigngrace, "Before the throne of God above." I needed, then, an even number of stanzas. So our version: 3/4, 5/6, 8/2.

I'm open to suggestions for other arrangements. I've included the hymn below just the way Kent wrote it. Have at it!

1. 'Twixt Jesus and the Chosen Race
Subsists a bond of sov'reign grace,
That hell, with its infernal train,
Shall ne'er dissolve, or rend in twain.

2. This sacred bond shall never break,
Though earth should to her center shake;
Rest, doubting saint, assured of this,
For God has pledged His holiness.

3. He swore but once the deed was done;
'Twas settled by the great Three One;
Christ was appointed to redeem
All that the Father loved in Him.

4. Hail, sacred union, firm and strong
How great thy grace, how sweet the song,
That rebel worms should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!

5. One in the tomb, one when He rose,
One when he triumphed o'er His foes
One when in heav'n He took His seat,
While seraphs sung at hell's defeat.

6. This sacred tie forbids their fears,
For all he is or has is theirs;
With hium, their Head, they stand or fall--
Their Life, their Surety, and their All.

7. The Sinner's Peace, the Daysman he,
whose blood should set his people free;
On them his fond affections ran,
Before creation-work began.

8. Blessed by the wisdom and the grace,
Th' eternal love and faithfulness,
That's in the gospel scheme revealed,
And is by God the Spirit sealed.

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Sunday setlist February 15, 2009

Morning worship: Pastor Ted finished the exposition of James, 5:19-20, on restoring wandering brothers. The musical theme combined the two ideas of God as the Great Rescuer and Christ our hope: "bleeding love." It comes from Watts' hymn below...

Walk-in Song
Here I am to worship
Crown him with many crowns
Wonderful, merciful
What offering shall I bring / tune: st. thomas
- from Watts, in our hymnal, #176; curiously though, it omits the 1st stanza. I'll post it separately.
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Depth of mercy / Kauflin version
B4 sermon
Come to the waters / James M. Boice
After sermon
We repeated the 2nd stanza of "Depth of Mercy"

Evening worship: Michael Emadi concluded his presentation on the reliabiliby of manuscripts. I was at home sick, and Greg Longtine graciously stepped in to lead worship. We kept up with the morning theme.

Come Christians join to sing
One pure and holy passion
Eternal union with Jesus
- a hymn suggested by Pastor Sam; I'll talk about this in a separate post.
Alas, and did my Savior bleed / Kauflin version
B/4 sermon:
Beneath the cross / Getty version

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Monday, February 9, 2009

The death of "classical music"

In a parallel universe where I am Education Director for the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, I write the program notes -- in such a way, I hope that people actually read them! Here's the opening from this next concert. It does actually have something to say about the tensions we feel in church music (old music vs. new). I'll open up more on that later. For now, in this moment, I'm all about Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven. Enjoy.

Is “classical music” dying? We hear such things often. “No one listens to it anymore! There’s no future for the professional orchestra!” I don’t happen to be among those who think so. But if so, I’m not going to blame “popular” music. That pop music is everywhere is not the problem. Just the opposite. We’ve segmented “classical” music from the rest of music (whether Broadway, film scores, jazz, and even popular styles). We think of it as “great music from dead guys long ago.” You know, it’s music for folks in tuxedoes, the stuff people would like “if they had any culture.” In other days, however, such distinctions weren’t possible. The musician lived in the total world. He had to embrace it all. Mozart, Verdi, and Gershwin – all were comfortable in the concert hall and the dance floor.

We need to change how we think about it all. “Classical” music is not a separate musical style – even if my iPod says so. “Classical” music crosses many centuries of differing musical styles. What makes any music “classical” is that it possesses the “x factor,” something that makes it endure past its time. Something in it still resonates with us in the 21st century. Tonight’s music, for instance – the Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven – has much to say to us that’s fresh. We can’t come to it, though, as if we’re visiting a musical museum. We need to hear it alive for us.

What can we do? We must change. First, go listen to (all kinds of) live music whenever you can. Make the time to attend concerts and recitals. Sit as close to the stage as you can afford. Never let an electronic experience be a substitute. Second, if you can, start making music (again). Join a church or community group, start guitar lessons, dig your old clarinet out of the attic. Become part of the answer. Finally, listen to new music (again, of all kinds) whenever possible. Keep growing. Hit the “shuffle” setting on your iPod. Enjoy the result!

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Setlist for February 8, 2009

Morning worship
Pastor Ted continued his series in James, now 5:16b-18, on the "Power of Prayer." The music theme pursued our "Mighty God," or "The God of Elijah." Again, whenever possible, we used contemporary hymn arrangements from

Walk-in Song
Come thou fount

Mighty God, while angel bless you
 (tune: ode to joy)
Salvation belongs to our God
Psalm 27
(tune: federal street)
   -- Anne Steele's setting
You are my hiding place

b4 sermon / after sermon, st.1
Be thou my vision

Evening worship

Michael Emadi began a 2-part teaching on NT manuscripts, the reliability of the NT text. Before we sang hymns basically encouraging us about God's Word, we learned a new song (new for us, at least) from Sovereign Grace. I played a track from "
Songs for the Cross-Centered Life" as our walk-in song. then we sang it at the opening of the set. (It was also part of the prelude both morning and evening.)

Alas and did my Savior bleed
God has spoken (tune: beecher)
Teach us to love (tune: dundee)
    -- from Timothy Dudley-Smith
Thy word is a lamp (Amy Grant)
Ancient words

b4 sermon
Holy Bible, book divin
e (we sang it from the hymnal)

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Principles for worship at HBC #5

4. We boast in nothing but the cross of Christ.

We seek to be redemptive in our approach, longing for sightings of the cross throughout our singing and preaching, eager to have the gospel of Christ and the doctrines of grace -- atonement, redemption, and forgiveness -- effectually and graciously applied to the lives of sinners and saints.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Setlist for February 1, 2009

Because of the extraordinary providence this week -- ice storm -- we weren't even sure we were going to have a service. Sunday School was canceled. Pastor Ted preached on lessons to be learned from this event. The music theme followed it.

Walk-in song
Psalm 104: O worship the king

I sing the almighty pow'r of God
God moves in a mysterious
/ Kaulfin version
Jesus, your name (Getty)
Psalm 23: The Lord is (sovereign grace)

B/4 sermon
You are my all in all

We had our evening service at 4 pm (since many are still withou power). This was our monthly Lord's Table observance

Wonderful Cross (Tomlin)
Hark the voice of love and mercy
 I used the tune beach spring -- think Sacred Harp -- (since the hymn is only 878787, we had to repeat the last 87 to fit the tune)
Jesus, thank you (sovereign grace)
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