Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Principles for Worship at HBC #9

8. We desire each other’s good.

We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our dependence and response to God’s Spirit is good for each other – to build up (edify) the saints and seek the conversion of the lost. A spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to, authentic worship.

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Sunday setlist March 29, 2009

3/29/09 This was Friend Sunday -- so the service is focused on being clear to the unchurched. Sam Emadi preached Isa 53 on substitutionary atonement. So the musical theme was the cross.

Walk-in song
Lift high the cross) / C

O Jesus we adore you / Bb - tune: ST. THEODULPH
Lord, I lift your name on high / F
   PT is right -- that key is too low!
The wonderful cross (tomlin) / C
Cross medley: old rugged cross / beneath the cross /
Jesus keep me near the cross

before sermon
Alas, and did my Savior bleed (sov grace) / F

In the evening Pastor Joe continued with his series in John 17. This time, v.12 -- on true sheep vs. Judas, on preserving power and grace

Walk in songs (two new songs!)
See what a morning -- Getty/Townend
I will rise -- Tomlin (from Hello Love)

Shout to the Lord / Bb
Jesus what a friend / Eb-E/F
Knowing you / C
All the way my Savior leads me / F

Before sermon
Speak, O Lord / Bb

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just because

Bach rarely made mistakes. He didn't here, either. For Easter Sunday he wrote this cantata
(BWV4) based on Luther's hymn, Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands. The tune is Latin, 12th cent. Here is the final stanza, "We eat and live well" (upon Christ by faith, that is). Check out the text under 'read more.'

Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

Then let us feast this Easter Day
on Christ, the Bread of heaven;
The Word of Grace has purged away
the old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed,
he is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other. Alleluia!

Go here for more info about the cantata.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Principles for worship at HBC #8

7. We insist on sincere authenticity.

We utterly renounce all sham, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, affectation, and posturing. We do not pursue the atmosphere of artistic or oratorical performance, but the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God and truth.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Divine Protection

A wonderful hymn from Toplady. See it in Gadsby #345, though he leaves off the middle stanza. This is an updated version as found in Praise! hymnal. We sing it to CONTRAST - the tune for John Newton's "How tedious and tastless the hours." See the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. We also use this tune for another Toplady, "A debtor to mercy alone." 

Divine Protection
A sovereign pro
tector I have 
unseen yet forever at hand
unchangeably faithful to save 
almighty to rule and command
He smiles and my comforts abound 
his grace as the dew shall descend
and walls of salvation surround 
the soul he delights to defend

Inspirer and hearer of prayer 
both leading and guarding your sheep
I place in your covenant care 
my life, both awake and asleep
If you are my shield and my sun 
the night is no darkness to me
for, fast as my moments roll on 
so nearer to you I shall be

Creator and ground of my hope 
to your name alone I shall bow
a new 'Ebenezer' set up 
to show 'God has helped us till now'
I think on the years that are past 
when all my defense you have proved
nor will you relinquish at last 
a sinner so blessed and so loved
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The Christian's Hope

You can find this in Gadsby, #245. It comes from The Gospel Magazine, 1799. Red Mountain Church has a tune for it. I took a couple lines from the last stanza and made it the chorus. We sing it to the tune, THE SOLID ROCK....

The Christian’s hope
We travel through a barren land
with dangers thick on ev'ry hand
But Jesus guides us through the vale
the Christian's hope can never fail

We trust upon the sacred word, the oath and promise of our Lord, the oath and promise of our Lord

Huge sorrows meet us as we go 
and devils aim our overthrow
but vile infernals can't prevail
the Christian's hope shall never fail

Sometimes we're tempted to despair 
but Jesus makes us then his care
though numerous foes our souls assail
the Christian's hope shall never fail

Unknown, The Gospel Magazine, 1799 / Public Domain

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Sunday setlist for March 22, 2009

The theme this morning was the mighty preserving power of God. PT preached Jude 24-25...

Walk-in song
To the praise of his glorious grace

A mighty fortress
The Christian's hope (tune: solid rock)
  I'll post it
Divine protection (Toplady) (tune: contrast)
  I'll post this hymn, too
Power of the cross (Getty)
Mercies anew (sov grace)

Before sermon
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

The evening music & preaching were somewhat shortened, so we could have our quarterly "family meeting" -- updates from the elders about church life. PB preached Matthew 5:5, on being meek; Mark Redfern led the music.

Always forgiven (sov grace)
Psalm 51: God be merciful to me (indelible grace)
To the only God (Tomlin)
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday setlist for 3/15/09

Jonathan Christman preached on the church -- our making a serious commitment to it, from Ephesians 5. The music theme followed...

Walk-in song
Rise up, o men of God / tune: festal song

The church's one foundation
Let your kingdom come
O church, arise
We are the body of Christ

B/4 sermon
I stand in awe
Surrender all

After sermon
We are the body (again)

PB preached in the evening on being others-oriented. David Malone led the singing tonight.

Jesus thank you
Depth of mercy
Gospel song
Before the throne
How firm a foundation

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

How do we grow in physical expressiveness in worship?

This is a 5-part series from Bob Kauflin's blog, worshipmatters.
May the Lord help us who haven't known such freedom to begin to honor God this way. I could always make arguments from nature -- about the inevitable and unavoidable link between making music and physical expression -- but I'd rather our convictions be stuck, first of all, to our Bible. Begin reading here and profit.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What would "selfless abandonment" look like in our worship?

Some give and take on a recent post.

.... May the Lord give us increasing measures of joy and selfless abandonment to him in the midst of our corporate praise!

Can you define "selfless abandonment?" I thought we were getting better at it and now it seems like our expressions may be a bit reigned in. If we can get excited about sports contests and show our enthusiasm in certain ways, why not in the much more important act of worship?

I agree. 

When I speak of "selfless abandonment" in worship, I'm thinking, in part, of Charles Wesley's phrase, "lost in wonder, love and praise," in the hymn, "Love divine." He urges us to think deeply how we'll worship the Lamb when glorified. Can you imagine -- utter freedom in worship -- body (at least in the new earth) and soul, without any remaining/ corrupting sin, without any self-conscious reservations?

I'm also thinking of Joseph Addison's earlier hymn where he confesses, "When all Thy mercies, O my God / My rising soul surveys / Transported with the view, I’m lost / In wonder, love and praise." He dares to say this marks our worship here and now!

I don't mean by "selfless abandonment" some kind of unholy loss of self-control, some sort of nervous meltdown. I'm not urging some kind of old-fashioned Shakers meeting just to prove we're free in worship! No, I do mean, however, that we should be so wholly fixed on Christ, that we move beyond fear of what others may think of us while I sing. I mean that our bodies should also be involved in the acts of worship -- singing, shouting, raising of hands, hand-clapping, dancing (however that would look!), etc. Not all at once, of course, and not on every song. The psalter itself presents to us a full complex of human emotions and response. Not always celebration, not always grief, etc. And always we have 1 Cor 14 in mind (doing things decently, to build others up). But I mean that I long to see the kinds of physical expression we find in the psalter marking our public worship!

I have often wondered, by the way, if my being self-conscious isn't a fundamental disposition resulting from pride inherited from Adam. In other words, perhaps we should repent of our self-consciousness in worship? I'm quite convinced that New Covenant worship should know something of "selfless abandonment," by faith, now. 

Our elders are convinced (and I completely agree) that we must labor to bring the entire congregation along in our worship. It's not okay to leave a few sheep straggling behind, without having exercised much patience, much love, much listening and instruction. This blog is part of that effort. (I have no idea if it's helping -- I sincerely hope so.) Not everyone is comfortable with clapping, with singing cherished hymns in a contemporary fashion, etc. I mean to diss no one in saying so. I'm sure some hold earnest opinions that differ from my own (imagine that)! 

In time our shepherds will teach more on these things. They continue to labor "behind the scenes" to help all of us learn how to love each other more sincerely -- especially at times when it may come in a musical style I don't care for. For what it's worth -- not everyone is crazy about the old hymns I teach, either. This business of loving others is a responsibility we all share.

I don't know, of course, how far HBC will move in physical expression in worship. I am committed, however, to be all the help I can be -- and not irritate anyone because I lack sympathy for his/her point of view.

Thanks for your question.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Principles for worship at HBC #7

6. Earnestness and intensity will mark our meetings.

We will try to avoid being trite, flippant, superficial, or frivolous, but instead will aim to set an example of reverence and passion and wonder and broken-hearted joy.

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"Hear Our Praises" and Hillsong

Frankly, we don't sing much Hillsong -- I love the feel of the songs, but sometimes the words leave me unsure what they mean. It's like the focus is a bit blurry. Sometimes they feel all about me, and not enough about the Lord. That's prob'ly an affliction for us reformed types -- over analyzing every song. Oh well -- to TRUTH, to CLARITY, to LIFTING UP THE CROSS. That doesn't mean, however, that they're aren't some good Hillsong songs. And I'll keep looking for more. This one is good. Start using it.

from Lifewayworship
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A gem recover'd from the vault

O Thou In Whose Presence. A beautiful hymn on Jesus, our Shepherd. It seems Joseph Swain (1761-1796) wrote his 11-stanza hymn as part of a larger work: Redemption: A Poem in Five Volumes.

from 49 Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal by James Abbington 2005 GIA Publications, Inc.

We sang 5 stanzas to the tune
DAVIS, an early 19th cent. American tune. It'd be interesting to hear what tune 18th cent. English Baptists used. Swain was converted as a young man, than baptised by John Rippon. Later he became a pastor of a Baptist congregation at East Street, Walworth.

This hymn is not to be found in Gadsby or Spurgeon, in Trinity Hymnal (blue or red), in Met Tab's new hymnal (from Peter Masters) or in Praise!. I did find it in a copy I have of Southern Harmony (1854), which uses
DAVIS, although in a more angular form than we now know.

O Thou In Whose Presence
O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight,
On whom in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night,
My hope, my salvation, my all.

Where dost Thou, dear Shepherd, resort with Thy sheep,
To feed on the pastures of love?
Say, why in the valley of death should I weep,
Or alone in the wilderness rove?

O, why should I wander an alien from Thee,
And cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see,
And smile at the tears I have shed.

Ye daughters of Zion declare, have ye seen
The Star that on Israel shone?
Say, if in your tents my Belovèd has been,
And where, with His flocks, He is gone.

This is my Belovèd; His form is divine;
His vestments shed odors around:
The locks of His head are as grapes on the vine,
When autumn with plenty is crowned.

The roses of Sharon, the lilies that grow
In vales, on the banks of the streams:
On His cheeks, all the beauties of excellence glow,
And His eyes are as quivers of beams.

His voice, as the sound of the dulcimer sweet,
Is heard through the shadows of death;
The cedars of Lebanon bow at His feet,
The air is perfumed with His breath.

His lips as a fountain of righteousness flow,
That waters the garden of grace,
From which their salvation the Gentiles shall know,
And bask in the smiles of His face.

Love sits on His eye-lids, and scatters delight
Through all the bright mansions on high;
Their faces the cherubim veil in His sight,
And tremble with fullness of joy.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call;
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice.
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my All,
And in Thee I will ever rejoice.

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Setlist for March 8, 2009

Morning Worship
PT preached from Acts 2 on the nature and activity of a healthy church.
Musical theme: Jesus our Shepherd

Walk in song
Hear our Praises
The solid Rock
O my soul
You are holy (Prince of Peace)
I love you Lord
The Lord is (Ps 23)
Before the sermon
O thou in whose presence

In the evening we focused on a new ministry at HBC: Mentor Kids (a pilot program from Mentor Kids Kentucky). Musical theme: Father's love

Your great name we praise (kauflin)
How deep the Father's love for us
Give thanks
His forever (sov grace)
Jesus name above all names
Before the sermon
Here is love, vast as the ocean

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On our face before God

Part 3 to the previous post, on removing distractions in worship. This time, an extended quote. 

"It's so important to me that my church family meet with God and worship Him. I work all week to help enable that....

It's terrifying to face a congregation who probably has not thought much about worship yet and know it's your job to help them experience God. I am humbled every single week. If I could, I would lead worship laying on my face because I am so amazed that for some reason I am leading the church to worship Almighty God. That is holy ground to me. Worship leaders have everything they do become for public consumption and comparison and that is so very hard - and many times heartbreaking. (If I had read most of these comments as a younger worship leader I would have been tempted to quit - I could never ever live up to your expectations of me) The bottom line for me is that I want to worship together. I will make mistakes. I will pick songs that annoy you. I will talk too long sometime (did you listen? perhaps God was speaking to you?). I will not look cool and yes, over and over again no matter how hard I try, I will forget the words. I'll be leading the band, paying attention to sound, seeing people in the congregation reading their bulletins and making faces, try to stay worshipful, remember the words, and I will lose my train of thought. I will desperately want you to worship with me, not judge me or even "conmsume" in the worship service, not just watch. Whether we sing a hymn, or the newest worship song, I will want us to encounter God together.

When we come to worship we all share in a mutual responsibility. Do you know what I've observed after standing on the stage leading others for more than 22 years? We have the best worship when the church worships. Period. Perfection, new songs, great worship leader - all of these are extras. When we are focused passionately on God, we have great worship. One guitar or a full band, this is the recipe.

I know there are skills needed to lead more effectively. I work on that continually. PRAY for your worship leader!

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Blending old and new music

We are a confessional, 2nd LBC (1689), reformed baptist church. One can safely assume we love to sing old hymns. Toplady, Kent, Watts, Gadsby, Cowper, Bonar, etc. We love to sing new hymns, too. Carson, Kauflin, Dudley-Smith, Clarkson, Getty, Townend, Kendrick, Boice, etc. And we love to sing the psalms (usually newer settings). This is who we are. We are happy being this way!

We also want our music to be consciously missional -- as we are able, to sing in the musical vernacular of our culture. I don't want folks having to walk through a musical time-machine when they come to our services. So we also love to sing 'contemporary' worship songs (long list here)...

You might call our music style "blended piano-driven" -- piano, synth, acoustic guitar & bass, djembe, violin and other inst. sometimes. It wouldn't be accurate to call what we do "guitar-driven pop style." We're much more acoustic than that. (Though I wouldn't mind....)

I'm not talking here about singing hymns (anything old & from the blue book) vs. choruses (new stuff). That's an inaccurate distinction anyway (many of our hymns are new, and most contemporary worship songs today can't be called "choruses."). No, I'm talking about the sound of our music. How do we blend old and new styles in the same set or service?

Part of the answer is just old-fashioned work. It takes time to be sure the flow continues through the set without interruption. We can and do sing hymns (old and new) in an older manner -- one has to be careful where to place them in the set, to be careful the style contrasts aren't too sudden from one song to the next. [Tech-speak: by "older manner" I mean songs having frequent and complex chord changes, piano leading with melody, no/almost no guitar, little percussion.]

The flow between songs is critical to removing distractions in worship. We just can't bump from one good song to the next w/o thinking through key and tempo changes, style contrasts, instrumentation, etc. I am convinced that we need to give as much attention to transitions as we do the songs themselves.

But another part of the answer is something we've begun doing this year -- downloading hymns settings arranged in a 'contemporary' style. Hymns with a new hair-do! Singing 'classic' hymns in a way that sounds current. I've been getting our songs (1 or 2 per week) from lifewayworship.com -- the Southern Baptist development of their new hymnal. There are other sources,too (see Don Chapman at hymncharts.com).

So this last Sunday, when we sang "Holy, holy, holy," it fit right into the set. It was a classic hymn in a contemporary setting -- we got into it easily from "The gospel is true" and went from it easily into "How great is our God." Isn't downloading songs expensive? On average, I'm spending about $7 per lifewayworship arrangement, I think I can justify the expense.

Why download music:
1. We're blending our hymn heritage (old & new) into a more contemporary style. Our musicians and I need help in learning how to play hymns in a contemporary sound.
2. Our instruments (synth, guitars, percussion, violin, others) can't play from a hymnal (designed for voices, piano, organ).
3. I want our rich hymn history arranged for our music team -- a both/and approach (so we can do both 'traditional' and 'contemporary' versions). This isn't about never singing again in an older style -- it is a matter of now having a choice.
4. The music we download we own. These are one-time purchases!
5. These are internet downloads -- so we save enormously from purchasing pre-printed music arrangement books.
6. Many favorable comments so far.
7. Couldn't I arrange these songs myself? I suppose -- if I had the time. But I don't. I work without pay. And it's hard to increase the 15+ hours I already spend outside of our services. Full disclosure: downloading these arrangements does make it easier for me.

I'd be interested in your thoughts!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

"I know whom I have believed"

A new song for us. It takes a gospel song and puts a new tune to it. From Christ Community Church (Franklin, TN), on Re:awakening, vol. 1. See the album here.

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Setlist for March 1, 2009

Morning Worship
Pastor Ted preached on how we should respond to puzzles, the seeming paradox, as we find them in God's Word -- e.g., the problem of evil, divine sovereignty & human responsibility, etc. It was really good -- (1) what happens when we find them in God's Word, (2) what we should remember, (3) what we should never do, and (4) what we must always do (fall down and worship). Really good. The musical theme focused on the triune God of grace.

Walk-in song
Grace unmeasured (sovereign grace)

And can it be
The gospel is true
Holy, holy, holy
How great is our God
My lips will praise you

B/4 the sermon
O great God (sovereign grace)

The Lord's Table
Pastor Joe preached Isaiah 53:1-6 on 4 words: despised, rejected, esteemed, desire.

Walk-in song
I know whom I have believed (new, from Christ Community Church -- I'll post it separately)

I boast no more (I posted about this hymn here)
I will glory in my Redeemer (sovereign grace)
Alas, and did my Savior bleed (kauflin setting)

At the table
Not what my hands have done
Give me Jesus

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