Posts Tagged hymns

Rock of Ages

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Resources for cross-cultural worship

New City Fellowship Music

  • New City Music [ncfmusic.com] – free pdf lyrics, lead sheets, and streaming demos
  • James Ward [jameswardmusic.com] – purchase recordings and choral anthems
  • Kirk Ward [worshipinthecity.wordpress.com] – my blog and store

Modern Worship

  • Songselect [songselect.com] – one stop shopping from CCLI’s music subscription service
  • Praise Charts [praisecharts.com] – purchase individual songs with detailed transcriptions of the recording
  • Worship Together [worshiptogether.com] – good place to get ideas or find resource links (popular tunes often include Spanish lyrics!)
  • Sovereign Grace Music [sovereigngracemusic.org] – less mainstream, but extremely gospel-focused songs

Hymnals and “The Hymn Movement”

Gospel Worship

International Resources

Recommended Reading:

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The Lost Verses of “Jesus Shall Reign”

The hymn “Jesus Shall Reign” was written by Isaac Watts based on Psalm 72 and  was published in 1719. Today most churches sing only 5 verses of what was originally 14. Here’s verses 9, 10 and 11.

Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.

The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.

With power He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to write about how we need to resume singing all 14 verses (or all the verses to every hymn). I am interested in looking at why some verses remain over other verses. Obviously, verses 9,10, and 11 emphasize the rule of Jesus as a kingdom of justice and righteousness for the poor. The verses that you would find in the Trinity Hymnal  that my denomination prefers, are 1, 4, 5, 6, 8. Most of these verses represent the spread of Jesus reign as being primarily about the confessional worship of people all over the world (Amen!). However, the focus of justice (one that is pretty clear in Psalm 72) doesn’t come through as strong. There is one verse that is in the Trinity Hymnal that retains the theme of justice:

Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

I realize that condensing 14 verses into 5 means that you might have to use one verse to convey the sentiment of several verses. But, do we often slant the language of this verse (chains, weary, sons of want) to reflect spiritual poverty instead of physical poverty. The psalmist does not limit his scope to the spiritual reign of the king. He is clearly speaking a blessing on the king to uphold justice for the oppressed.

“For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
    the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
    and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
    for precious is their blood in his sight.” (Psalm 72:12-14)

So what should be done with Watts’ lost verses? Should we pick different verses each time we sing them? I might try to switch out one or two, but I love the 5 we sing currently. Maybe someone should write a new melody using some of the 9 left over verses of “Jesus Shall Reign”.

One this is for certain: there will never be an end to the songs that can be composed about the glory of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom!

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Let’s Write a Song Together

This morning I was reading Deuteronomy 10:14-22 and it struck me how great this passage would be as a hymn. It covers a lot of ground: creation, grace, justice, service, praise, and redemption are just a few things that are packed in here. I was thinking a hymn because there’s a kind of strophic pattern to the the prose. Here’s how I imagined it:

Verse 1: To the Lord belongs all creation and yet he particularly set his affection on us, chose us and all generations. 

Verse 2: Humbly consecrate your heart to the Lord because he is the God of gods, Lord of Lords, holy and awesome. 

Verse 3: The Lord defends the fatherless, widow and alien and so we, as former aliens, are now empowered to do the same. 

Verse 4: Fear the Lord and serve him, holding fast to him and trusting in his name because he is “your praise” who is YOUR God who has performed awesome wonders for your deliverance. 

Verse 5: The Lord is faithful to his promises as demonstrated by the covenant to Abraham fulfilled in the blessing and redemption from Egypt. (This could poetically connect to the ultimate covenant fulfillment, Passover and freedom/exodus of Christ)

I’m more a composer than a poet and lyrics have always been my Achilles heal. Help me out O blog readers and friends. Send me a few lines of poetry, one verse or more and lets make a song as a community.

If I had to pick a form for the verse it would be anapestic tetrameter (Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house) and maybe the rhyme scheme could be ABCB. But send me anything that comes to you in the comments and we can always negotiate a compromise.

Come on y’all! Let’s be creative!!

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Follow Jesus to martyrdom?

Several weeks ago, there was an attempted assassination of some folks in my church. This was a deliberately targeted attack on the leaders of a ministry that was having a detrimental impact on some of the illicit and oppressive cottage industries in the neighborhood. In God’s sovereign design, these saints were miraculously saved from a violent death.

Is being a follower of Jesus safe? Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to bring down the oppressive systems of the world which enslave and oppress. If we follow him, then will we not also bring the same kind of violent resistance that he himself (and the prophets and the apostles) experienced? Are Jesus followers all called to be martyrs?

Jesus made a very clear statement about what it means to come after him:

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

The cross was not invented by Christians; it was a tool of the Romans to torture and execute insurrectionists. Jesus was inviting his followers, the “crowd” as well as the disciples, to sacrifice their lives. What does it mean to lay down our lives? Is it enough that we are just willing even if we don’t actually make any real life change to demonstrate that willingness? Does it mean facing physical death or just a mental and intellectual submission? What does it mean to be “ashamed” of Jesus and his words? What would it do to the oppressive and broken systems of the world if everyone who claimed to  follow Jesus chose to physically take a stand? What would happen if American Christians who have bought in to the notion of the American dream chose to drastically alter their lifestyles in order to share their resources, sacrifice their time and energy, or build real relationships with “sinners”?

Asking these kinds of questions might sound like some kind of hyper-religious mortification of the flesh. However, in both the Old and New Testament, God’s plan for his people has always been to bless, prosper, liberate, give rest, heal, and restore. Jesus’ plan is the exactly the same. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. How does this fit with “taking up our cross?” You can see that in the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt that they had to be brought into wilderness, weakness, sacrifice, and dependence in order to establish a new nation where the promises to Abraham could be fulfilled. But, when they were brought to the promised land, they gave in to fear of “the giants” in the land. They chose to “save” their own lives instead of trusting the Lord to protect and deliver them as they went into a war fought by the Lord himself. Ultimately, they lost the opportunity to go into the land and had to wait for God to raise up a whole new generation. The promise that God gives us has always been that we if we choose to sacrifice our lives to maintain justice and righteousness, then he will deliver, protect, vindicate, and bless us.

How does God bring his blessing through this kind of reckless sacrifice? Our ministry leaders were not only delivered from physical death, but the incident brought them into the good favor of authorities who could give the ministry even more access and freedom to bring God’s righteousness into the lives of broken people. For my wife and I, we have given up so much in order to love 2  kids who are not ours by birth or law. We are spending ourselves with the hope that comes from faith in a good God who will preserve and provide for seeking his kingdom first. We have seen the amazing blessing of God in our lives in the past 2 weeks through the love and prayers of the saints. Letting go of the idols and slavery to this world is a kind of death, but it always results in new life, righteousness and justice, even if it means physical death. That is the lavish blessing that is promised to the followers of Jesus who take up their cross and follow him.

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New Song: a new vibe for Wesley’s The Year of Jubilee

When inspiration comes, you got to strike while the iron is hot. Here’s a new version of Charles Wesley’s “Blow Ye The Trumpet Blow”. I was thinking Dap Kings at first which this could still work with that kind of groove, but it ended up being more like a weird Jack White vibe.

The Year of Jubilee

1.Blow you, the trumpet, Blow!
The gladly solemn sound
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound:
Jesus, our great High Priest,
Has full atonement made;
You weary spirits, rest;
You mournful souls, be glad:

Chorus
Freedom! The year of jubilee is come;
Freedom! The year of jubilee is come;
Freedom! The year of jubilee is come;
Freedom! The year of jubilee is come;
You ransomed sinners return, return home.

2. Extol the Lamb of God;
The sacrificial Lamb;
Redemption through his blood
Throughout the world proclaim:
You slaves of sin and hell,
Your liberty receive;
And safe in Jesus dwell,
And blessed in Jesus live:

3. You who have sold for naught
Your heritage above,
Receive it back unbought,
The gift of Jesus’ love:
The gospel trumpet hear,
The news of heavenly grace;
And, saved from earth, appear
Before your Savior’s face:

I know what you’re thinking. You think that I hate the tune LENOX which was also a tune for Isaac Watt’s  “Jesus My Great High Priest” before I ruined it with my tinkering. Can I help it if  I like the 66.66.888 meter? Hey, for fun try singing “Blow Ye…” to the tune of “JMGHP”! Not fun? I guess it’s just a church-music-nerd  kind of thing.

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“Come Ye Sinner’s” T-Shirt

My birthday is next month. You can get me this t-shirt. Size: Large.

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Good stuff from Bob Kauflin: What’s a “real, live, genuine hymn”?

Check out this post from Bob Kauflin on his blog, Worship Matters

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