Friday, May 29, 2009

Never Alone

From "Let All Creation Sing," EMU music. Go here.

[first stanza]
We’re not alone, for Christ is here
Immanuel our God come near
We’re not alone, for to our world
Jesus has come, eternal Word.
And as he speaks, our souls laid bare
Naked, ashamed, sin is made clear
And yet he clothes us in his love
Never alone, Christ is with us, is with us.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Psalm singing / eighth of several

[Isaac Watts]
The fifth of eight reasons why we should sing the psalms regularly, intentionally and methodically.

When you sing the psalms you engage a collection of songs that address the full range of human emotions.

Godly anger, heart-wrenching sorrow, dark depression, effulgent joy, honest questioning, and exuberant praise are just a sampling of the emotional range covered by the psalms. Most churches sense the burden of teaching their people how to think. Very few consider their responsibility to teach their people how to feel. Christians do not struggle with feeling. Feeling just happens. But our feelings must be trained by the gospel as much as our minds must. The psalms serve as the classroom of our affecti

[Another thought to Joe Holland's wonderful summary (a PCA church-planting pastor in Virginia). See him here. -- We'll only touch the full range of human emotions when we start singing through the psalter intentionally. It's just too easy, otherwise, to pick out the praise stuff and forego all that lament and sorrow. Even the wisdom/torah psalms (e.g. Ps 1, 119) are seldom sung.]

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ancient prayer put to song

From Alcuin, 8th century, comes this prayer. Read about him here

Eternal light, shine into our hearts. Eternal goodness, deliver us from evil. Eternal power, be our support. Eternal wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance. Eternal pity, have mercy upon us, that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength we may seek your face and be brought by your infinite mercy to your holy presence, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Alcuin, 8th cent.

We sang this Christopher Idle hymn setting of this prayer. We used a new tune by Brian Murphy, retrieved from
Red Mountain Music

This is a particularly appropriate hymn before the preaching of God's Word.

Eternal light shine in my heart
Eternal hope lift up my eyes
Eternal power be my support
Eternal wisdom make me wise

Eternal life raise me from death
Eternal brightness help me see
Eternal Spirit give me breath
Eternal Savior come to me —

until by your most costly grace
invited by your holy Word
at last I come before your face
to know you, my eternal God

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Sunday setlist May 24, 2009

PT preaching on proper esteem -- God, not self

One pure and holy passion (altrogge)

All creatures of our God (lifeway)
Salvation belongs to our God
Grace unmeasured (Kauflin)
Open the eyes of my heart (Baloche)
The Lord is (Ps 23/Kauflin)

b/4 sermon
Captivated by his beauty (tune: tis so sweet)

PS preaching Romans 1:3-4, on the person/history of Jesus Christ

Psalm 62 [townend] -- we finally started singing it!

Give to our God immortal praise
God in the gospel of his Son
Alas and did my Savior bleed (Kauflin)
Embrace the cross [John G. Elliott]

b/4 sermon
Eternal light

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Australian site for new songs

Since we've been 'across the pond,' now we should travel 'down under.' EMU music. This is awonderful site for new songs. They state their purpose: "Emu Music exists to resource churches with new songs of the Word and to train musicians in effective Biblical music ministry." Their music reminds of the reAwakening albums from Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN.

Right now my headphones are on and I'm listening to Emu's newest album, New song in my heart
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

UK website for new songs

No, Wildcat fans -- this has nothing to do with UK's basketball hopes for next year. Think 'across the pond.' See if anything works for you.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Psalm singing / seventh of several

The fourth of eight reasons why we should sing the psalms regularly, intentionally and methodically. 

When you sing the psalms you guard against heresy.

[John Calvin]

Andrew Fletcher said, "Let me write a country's songs, and I care not who writes its laws." He was on to something. Songs drive information deep into our hearts. However, this power can be used for ill means. As long as the church has existed, songs have been used to inculcate heresy. There is an assumption that if you can sing it then it must be true. How shall we guard against sung-heresy? Sing psalms.

[I would want a bit more nuance to his suggestion. Yes, let us sing psalms -- and hymns (always using the psalter as our touchstone). To guard against heresy is an ever-present call to diligence.]

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Congregational song

Second Baptist Church of Coldwater, Mississippi

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Psalm singing / sixth of several

The third of eight reasons why we should sing the psalms regularly, intentionally and methodically. I'm taking the liberty of quoting directly from Joe Holland (a PCA church-planting pastor in Virginia). See his discussion here.

1. When you sing psalms, you literally sing the Bible.

2. When you sing the psalms you interact with a wealth of theology.

3. When you sing the psalms you are memorizing Scripture.

An important part of Christian maturity is the ability to recall passages of Scripture at need. Educational circles have long advocated the use of music to aid memorization. Music has a way of impressing truth into the mind in ways that reading alone cannot. This is no accident; it is the providential hand of our Creator God. He wants you to memorize his word and has provided a mnemonic for easy memory--the Psalter as Scripture set to music.
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Sunday Setlist for May 17, 2009

PB continued his sermon on affliction. The Lord used him for good in many lives today.

Brethren, we have met to worship

Praise to the Lord (lifewayworship)
God is in control (T. Paris)
Be unto your Name
Whate'er my God ordains (Joy Malone's tune)
O thou in whose presence

b/4 sermon
Jesus paid it all 
   (a beautiful lifewayworship arrangment + the tag from Passion -- but an octave lower!; "Oh, praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead")

Evening: PS began a survey of Romans

For all the saints

Your great name we praise (sov grace)
To Christ our King in songs of praise (Dudley-Smith hymn)
Song for the nations 
Immortal honors rest on Jesus' head (Wm. Gadsby)

B/4 sermon
Eternal light shine in my heart
    (adapting a prayer from Alcuin, 8th cent theologian)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Congregational Song again

From a Church of Christ in Dothan, Al

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Psalm singing / fifth of several

I'm in the midst of eight reasons why we should sing the psalms regularly, intentionally and methodically. I'm taking the liberty of quoting directly from Joe Holland (a church-planting pastor (PCA) in Virginia). See his discussion here.

1. When you sing psalms, you literally sing the Bible.

2. When you sing the psalms you interact with a wealth of theology.

Martin Luther said of the Psalter, "that it might well be entitled a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended." The 150 psalms cover the span of theology. To learn the psalms is not just to learn a specific topic of theology. It is to learn about every area of theology. Anthropology, theology proper, a theology of Scripture, Christology, soteriology, eccleisiology, and eschatology are all covered in the Psalter. Take for example Psalm 19 and its two part contemplation of God's revelation in creation and in the Bible. Or consider John Calvin's observation of God's attributes in Psalm 145, "in which the sum of all his powers is so precisely reckoned up that nothing would seem to have been omitted." The psalms provide a thorough exposure to the fullness of theology.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Making songs singable

Two more blogs from guys who know what they're doing.
Bob Kauflin, in Worship Matters, writes "Finding the right key to sing in." He discusses the importance of listening to the congregation, how tempo affects range, the breadth of range and its tessitura (fancy word for what he calls "repetition"), modulating, etc. Helpful stuff.

Secondly, check out Don Chapman on, on "Singable songs." This may be something you have to sign up to read -- but there's no fee. And this is a site I go to regularly. He speaks, like Kauflin, of the importance of listening to your congregation and knowing their age and musical experiences.
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Future of Church Music

You should check this out -- Eric Priest, a pastor at Christ the King Pres in Houston. In responding to questions on another blog, he makes sound points about our music, about whom we really worship in our "worship." Read it here
  • We must return from a musician-focus to a congregation-focus. That means putting songs in keys people actually can sing, choosing singable songs, supporting the singing above showcasing talent, etc.
  • Humility required.
  • Resisting the urge to follow the latest trend found in mega-churches.
  • Nurturing/teaching congregations to come for corporate (not private) worship.
Best line: As long as we see worship as a production and the congregation as an audience, we'll stay sick.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Setlist May 10, 2009

Pastor Rich preached from Psalm 119 on affliction.
Theme: Consolation in affliction

Hear our praises (Hillsong)

Sing praise to the Father
    tune: To God be the glory
How high and how wide (sov grace)
I know whom I have believed
I will rise

B/4 sermon
O faithful God (sov grace)
Be still, my soul

Pastor Sam preached on distinguishing true faith from false faith
Theme: Faith

My faith has found a resting place

No condemnation!
    tune: morning has broken
Ashamed of Jesus?
    new tune: from Red Mountain music
You are my hiding place
Cause the blind to see
    by Joy Malone

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Psalm-singing / fourth of several

Why sing psalms regularly?

Church history is a wonderful thing. While I am no professional historian, I think I qualify as an "amateur," a "lover" of church history. And it has much to tell us about psalm-singing -- from the ancient church, through the reformation, and up to our hour.

Interestingly, Particular Baptists (those of the 1689 Confession of Faith) were not exclusive psalm-singers (as were Presbyterians). In fact, it would seem that, once they got the urge to sing hymns (at the Lord's Table), psalm-singing fell to the side. Or they sang Watts' psalms (which are more like paraphrases). You'll not find, for instance, a section for the psalter in Wm. Gadsby. Yet some Baptists were glad to sing psalms. See the opening 150 hymns in C. H. Spurgeon's hymnal for Met Tab.

Today psalm-singing among Reformed Baptists is rare. We often rely on the Trinity Hymnal for our musical canon, with psalm portions/settings scattered throughout. But there is little, if any, deliberate focus on the psalms themselves. We are not intentional, regular, or methodical. I would like to challenge that.

So why this excursis about Baptists and psalm-singing? I think we have to make the case that the intentional, regular and methodical (not exclusive) use of the psalter in congregational praise is not the domain of presbyterians only. It is something we have become convinced of reading our Bibles. You know, the part about "singing to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." And it is a practice, even among Baptists, with precedence.

Many are the lists and discussions about why we should sing psalms. I'm taking the liberty of quoting directly from Joe Holland (a church-planting pastor (PCA) in Virginia). See his discussion here. This is thorough without being long-winded (my disease).

1. When you sing psalms, you literally sing the Bible.

The hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" is a moving meditation on the cross of Christ. No hymn matches "For all the Saints" in its contemplation on the communion of the saints. But neigher of these hymns are the actual words of the Bible. They are reflections on it. Forgetting for a moment that we are not singing the psalms in Hebrew, we are still singing the very words of God. The versification, themes, and content of the psalms are the inspired Word of God for his church in every age. When you sing a psalm, you sing the Bible.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rappin' the gospel

This is good. Really good. Perhaps we need to re-examine our paradigm -- the one that says only our favorite music styles glorify God. Perhaps it's time to run outside and inhale some fresh air.

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Psalm singing / third of several

I've started by listing reasons why I have not seriously pursued intentional and regular psalm-singing here at HBC. We often sing a psalm in our gatherings -- but that's not quite the same thing.

Two reasons so far: (1) Goofy English in many psalters (what I call "psalter syntax") and (2) Expired Hymn Tunes. Today my third (and final) reason.

3. Figuring out how to be reformed and relevant to our generation. 

I love John Calvin; I love the puritans; B. B. Warfield was a great help to me in early days in defining a coherent theological position. (That's his likeness on the left.) I do know that being reformed (a theocentric world-view) is the most relevant pou sto, place to stand, that we could have. My point is that the 20th century Reformed church culture -- in fighting battles on many theological fronts -- has been slow generally, I think, to think through how we might engage our culture well. Often (not always), for instance, it is the Reformed community most eager to bash in "contemporary praise" as nothing but ditties and man-centered doggerel.

This has been the largest hindrance (in my own mind, at least) to any serious attempt at making psalm-singing an intentional part of each our gatherings. We've spent several years at HBC trying to work out our understanding of worship, of music styles, and related concerns -- so as to be as indigenous as we can be. We are a confessional (i.e., Reformed) Baptist church trying to find our way in a brave, new world. We want to move cautiously; but we want to move according to all that Scripture commands us (see our Principles of Worship) and according to the best wisdom we can follow. (FWIW, I think the 1689 calls on us to use both. There shouldn't be any conflict.)

While we have a ways to go, I think we're fairly clear on our direction. We are a hymn-loving church that embraces an eclectic mix of different kinds of music in public worship. We sing German chorales and Chris Tomlin. Again, we work hard to be "rooted and relevant." And our own musical style might be best described as "eclectic (or if you prefer, blended) piano-driven." 

Thing is, I haven't found regular psalm-singing anywhere (yet) in the contemporary praise world. Churches sing songs based on the psalms (see Psalms from sovereign grace -- a wonderful set of songs for the church). And occasionally entire psalms are set to music (see Stuart Townend/Aaron Keyes setting of Ps 62). So there are hints of how it might look. But I haven't yet found the church that wants to sing psalms regularly, in some kind of contemporary manner. (BTW, if you can connect me to one, please do!)

I think it’s time to figure it out (while not losing anything else we do).

Next time: Eight reasons why Christ’s gathered congregation should sing psalms intentionally, regularly, and methodically.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Congregational singing -- more of it

This kinda combines two great loves of mine - congregational song and a brass band. Here we have both. The congregation sings "Crown Him" at a festival by Regent Hall Band at Bristol Easton Salvation Army November 2008. Guess they like it quick.

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Katie Redfern encourages us to learn this song from Aaron Keyes & Stuart Townend. So what are we waiting for? Find the text under "read more."

Psalm 62

Verse 1
My soul finds rest in God alone
My rock and my salvation
A fortress strong against my foes
And I will not be shaken
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse
And lies like arrows pierce me
I'll fix my heart on righteousness
I'll look to Him who hears me

(And) O praise Him hallelujah
My Delight and my Reward
Everlasting never failing
My Redeemer my God

Verse 2
Find rest my soul in God alone
Amid the world's temptations
When evil seeks to take a hold
I'll cling to my salvation
Though riches come and riches go
Don't set your heart upon them
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven

(And) O praise Him hallelujah
My Delight and my Reward
Everlasting never failing
My Redeemer my God

Verse 3
I'll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely
With ev'ry day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy
Though life is but a fleeting breath
A sigh too deep to measure
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever

(And) O praise Him hallelujah
My Delight and my Reward
Everlasting never failing
My Redeemer my God

O praise Him O praise Him
Hallelujah hallelujah
O praise Him O praise Him
Hallelujah Hallelujah
O praise Him O praise Him
Hallelujah hallelujah

Chorus 1
(And) O praise Him hallelujah
My Delight and my Reward
Everlasting never failing
My Redeemer my God

CCLI Song No. 5040902
© 2007 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Aaron Keyes | Stuart Townend

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Principles for worship at HBC #13

12. We will ever depend on, expect, and respond to the Holy Spirit’s working in our midst.

Our services should manifest planning and spontaneity, form and freedom. By this we shall continue to reform, continue to grow and continue to seek after God for fresh mercies every time we gather. (Ps. 40:3; 98:1; 149:1)

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Precious communion hymn

Christ for us. From Horatius Bonar, in a collection he entitled, "Communion Hymns" (1881). I set it to the tune for "before the throne." So I take eight original stanzas and make them four, repeating the last line. You may find a different tune. Here it is as Bonar penned it. I've also added an historical note after the hymn.

Precious words. Even more precious the Savior who so freely gave himself for us.

Christ for us

On merit not my own I stand
on doings which I have not done
merit beyond what I can claim
doings more perfect than my own

Upon a life I have not lived
upon a death I did not die
another's life, another's death
I stake my whole eternity

Not on the tears which I have shed;
not on the sorrows I have known,
another's tears, another's griefs,
on them I rest, on them alone

Jesus, O Son of God, I build
on what your cross has done for me;
there both my death and life I read
my guilt, my pardon there I see

Lord, I believe; oh deal with me
as one who has your word believed;
I take the gift, Lord look on me
as one who has your gift received

I taste the love the gift contains
I clasp the pardon which it brings
and pass up to the living source
above, whence all this fullness springs

Here at your feast I grasp the pledge
which life eternal to me seals,
here in the bread and wine I read
the grace and peace your death reveals

O fullness of the eternal grace
O wonders past all wondering!
Here in the hall of love and song
we sing the praises of our King

Horatius Bonar, 1881 Communion Hymns

Bonar's son, H. N. Bonar, wrote a book, Hymns by Horatius Bonar (1904), in which he includes this note: 

"[In 1881] a little collection of thirty Communion Hymns was issued a few of which had already appeared in previous volumes Most of these hymns were known to my father's own congregation already It was his custom at the close of every Communion service to read aloud some hymn or poem bearing on the subject which had been the theme of the sermon and table addresses This was often selected from some old hymn book sometimes it was a translation from the German but many a time it was specially written by himself for the occasion In this little collection appears that perfect exposition of the author's standpoint before God: ON MERIT NOT MY OWN I STAND"
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Setlist for Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pastor Ted preached on how to deal with those who curse and revile. The music theme followed a more general path of hope in God.

Walk-in song
Psalm 96

Come, Christians, join to sing
Blessed be your name
Glorious & mighty
Wonderful, merciful
His forever (Jesus, Friend of sinners)

b/4 sermon
It is well with my soul

Our monthly Lord's Table. Pastor Joe preached from Luke 7 on being forgiven much, loving much.

Walk-in song
I will rise (Tomlin)

I know whom I have believed
Christ for us (H. Bonar)
      new to us; set to the tune "before the throne"
Behold the Lamb (Getty)

at the table
Depth of mercy (Kauflin version)
Only your mercy
There is none like you
The gospel song

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