We Praise Thee O God

Happy Monday, everyone!

It was a great time worshipping God yesterday.  I was pretty consumed with putting together a pretty lengthy media presentation on our missions support for churches in the Middle East and Mexico / Central America, so it was great to have our worship team led by my friend and fellow worship-leader Joe, who did a great job.  It has been encouraging to see him grow in his heart for leading the church in praise.  As we work together with our team, this verse captures our goal:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”  –Heb 12:28

How does the Hebrew writer define acceptable worship in this passage?  Reverence and awe.  Imagine the reverence and awe of the high priest entering the holy of holies, and yet in the new covenant WE ARE the temple (Ephesians 2:20-22).  When we gather on Sunday it should be to reflect the Lord’s glory and to collectively celebrate who God is and what he has done.  When we appropriately participate in this kind of worship, we come away inspired and renewed.  We are revived.  

I’d like to share my take on an old hymn this morning that I think appropriately both celebrates God and calls for revival, “We Praise Thee O God.”

(Youtube link: https://youtu.be/fYLTUNvu_z4)

Chord Chart:

Verse 1 &2
E / E / C#min / C#min
A / E / B / B
(repeat)

Chorus
A E / B C#min
A E / B
A E / B C#min
A B….

Verse 3 &4 (same)

Instrumental bridge
C#min / C#min
A / A
E / E
B / B

Verse 4

Chorus 3x


Join the Song Creation is Singing

Hey everybody!  I just recently finished a couple grad school classes, working towards a masters degree in ministry from Pepperdine U.  In of my classes, called “Worship and Witness of the Church,” my instructor Dr. David Lemley gave the following definition of worship: “Worship is participation in God’s self-communication.”  I love that definition because it’s so much bigger than church.  Aren’t there so many ways that God communicates to us and shows us glimpses of his glory and the story of his redemption?  And we respond with worship.  Towards the end of the semester, as I was evaluating this definition along with a lot of the course materials and various readings, I was reminded of this song (written back in 2009) which describes worship as joining “the song creation is singing.”  I realized I hadn’t ever put the studio version on Youtube, so here is a lyric video version:


Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytQuFT1Rsgg

The song is based on these passages.  I hope it encourages you to rejoice in worship!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?…
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”     –  Job 38:4-7

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”     – Luke 2:13-14

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
–  Luke 19:37-40

(See an earlier post here with lyrics and more about the background of the song.  And here is a version of it being sung in Russian.)

 


Why You Should Sing Old-Timey Hymns at Church

We are starting a new series for our Sunday services called “FAQ” (frequently asked questions about Christianity), and the topic yesterday was “What Happens When We Die?”  Appropriately, we sang this great old song called “To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way (written in 1914).  A teaching recording is below that I threw together for our team (it goes through each part, SATB, and then how they all sound together).  It was great!  Even though a good chunk of the audience had probably never heard the song, you could clearly see everyone singing out, and you could really hear the voice of the church on that song.

Which brings me to my point.  These old songs are just well-designed for congregational participation.  You can catch on to them right away.  Don’t get me wrong, I love new contemporary worship songs (our service yesterday also included “Alive” by Hillsong Young and Free and “How Can it Be” by Lauren Diagle, for example).  I’m all for including songs like that in the line up.  But it is refreshing to have portions of the singing where we just back off the instruments (and even the microphones) and listen to the church.  And some of the newer contemporary songs take the church about 4 or 5 times hearing/singing them before they really “get” them to the point of being able to really participate.  (“Oceans,” for example, is now a church favorite but took us singing it about 5 times before you could start to hear people singing out.)

As far as placement in the service, coming out some silent meditation for communion we did one of my newer songs, “The Other Side” (which is a kind of gospel-ish tune), and then after that we picked up the tempo and the energy by going straight into “To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way,” stomping and singing this good old-timey song before the lesson.

Anyway, here is the teaching recording of the tune and a PDF of the sheet music.  Give it a try!

To Canaan’s Land – teaching recording

  

To Canaan’s Land I’m On My Way – sheet music


Power

Happy Easter and good Monday Morning!

Wanted to share a song from our service yesterday, POWER.  I don’t know the origins of this song (I learned it from Steve Bowen, an amazing song leader and choir director).  But we love to sing it, especially on Easter (I have been suffering from sickness so my voice is a little sketchy but thought this recording would still encourage you).  It’s a great song about the power of Jesus over death and the grave.

Speaking of Easter… For the early Christians, they saw Jesus’ resurrection as the start of a new world, a new creation, a new kingdom, in which Jesus is already ruling and reigning as Lord.

This transformed them, made them bold – they faced persecution and death with courage and faith (whereas before the resurrection they were terrified and without hope).  After they saw him alive, they never backed down on their claim that Jesus was risen and that made all the difference, make him the ultimate authority. King and Lord (over Cesar).

For us today, the resurrection means everything!  He backed it up. He rose from the dead. That made all the difference.

His promises are real.
His presence continues – He is reigning over his kingdom even now.
He’s coming back.

We face a bodily resurrection ourselves.

 


Shepherd’s Sign

We have been going through a series on the book of Daniel over the last few weeks in our Sunday sermons.  I spoke on chapters 7-9 yesterday, and covering chapters 10-12 next Sunday.  (You should be able to here the lesson here, if you’re interested.)  These are the parts of Daniel that are known as apocalyptic in genre.  Apocalyptic literature is full of imagery and symbolism, exotic creatures, angels, heavenly visions and journeys, giving a stark contrast between present conditions and a glorious future.  This type of writing (also found in the book of Revelation) is especially found during times of crisis, as it provides hope that God is in control, he rules the nations, his plan will bring future hope and he is reigning in heaven (even when things look their bleakest).

I became a disciple of Jesus and was baptized right at the end of my junior year of high school, and my senior year was a particularly challenging time, as many of my friends from school started partying and I found myself alone often because I was trying to lead a holy life.  I faced persecution and pressures of teenage life.  And I loved apocalyptic scripture, finding hope in its dramatic imagery.  I wrote this song my senior year, based particularly on Matthew 24 (known as a “mini-apocalypse”).  I told the congregation I would post it for them to be able to hear.  So here it is, “Shepherd’s Sign” –written in about 1988, and this recording was made way back in 1996.  When I get some time I’d love to make a new updated recording of this one.   Let me know what you think…

Shepherd’s Sign

 

The light-life eyes of those who’ve died
Yet live again a sacrifice
Lifted up, they’ll see the sign
They’ll see the night-thief as he flies

Summer’s here, the fig tree’s bloomed
We trim our lamps to see the bridegroom
And in the air a trumpet call
Echoes the heart cry in my soul

The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky
The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky

Rejected love, they realize
“Who are you?” he asks, with a tear in his eye
“Lord, Lord” Lord, they say
But they lived their life their own way

The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky
The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky

Lo, what a glorious sight appears
To our believing eyes
The earth and sea are passed away
And the old rolling skies
From the third heaven where God resides
That holy, happy place
The new Jerusalem comes down
Adorned with shining grace
His own soft hand shall wipe the tear
From every weeping eye
And pains and groans and griefs and fears
And death itself shall die
And death itself shall die
Death itself shall die

The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky
The sun is black, the sky is red
The stars are fallen, the moon is dead
Creation heaves its childbirth cry
The shepherd’s sign is in the sky

 

 

 


White As Snow (second posting)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

I posted a live recording of us singing the song way back in 2009 when it was pretty new (and we were meeting in a movie theater, as you’ll see).  There is more about the song “White As Snow” on that post.  But I wanted to share an updated recording from my latest album, “The Other Side.”

As I was putting this album together I thought I would make studio versions of some of the congregational songs that are in the IPI songbook, “Songs of the Kingdom,” and this is one of them.  I really enjoyed recording this one.  I had a lot of fun playing the electric guitar parts.  Had fun with the groove of the bass and drums as well, inspired in this arrangement by an 80’s song from my childhood.   (Any guesses what song?  Female artist, crazy outfits… “I hear the clock tick and think of you…” C’mon you know what it is…gosh I love that song!)

Anyway, with “White As Snow” it was cool returning to a song I had written a while back but we hadn’t really sung for a long time.  The lyrics were new to me again and the prayerful sentiment of the song was so good for my soul.

Happy Monday!  Enjoy…

White As Snow – Recording from album, The Other Side 

White As Snow – Sheet Music from IPI Songbook (with chord charts)

 


Someday / Trials Dark

somedaySeems like we’ve been singing more songs about heaven lately since our friend Kevin’s passing.  This is a recording from our worship team rehearsal of a song we sang at church a couple weeks ago.  It’s a mashup of two songs actually, Someday and When the Morning Comes (otherwise known as “Trials Dark“).  Someday we don’t know where came from (it’s been sung in our fellowship for a couple decades or so), and Trials Dark is an old time song written by Charles Tindley back in 1905.  We start with doing Someday adding one part at a time, then go to the verses of Trials Dark with using Someday as the chorus.  They work really well together with a message of where we are all headed.  Lyrics and chords are below.

Someday – Trials Dark – rehearsal recording

SOMEDAY / TRIALS DARK

soprano, alto, basses:
Someday, someday, someday
Someday

Tenors:
Got to be ready when he calls my name
Got to be ready when he calls my name
Got to be ready when he calls my name
Someday

Trials dark on every hand
And we cannot understand
All the ways that God will lead us
To that promised land.
But He’ll guide us with his eye
And we’ll follow ‘till we die.
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

We are sometimes destitute
Of the things that life demands
Want of shelter and of food
In a barren land.
But we’re trusting in the Lord
And according to his word
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

Temptations, hidden snares
Often take us unaware
And our hearts are made to bleed
For each word or deed
And we wonder why the test
When we try to do our best
We will overcome it all
And see Him someday, singing

(The recording is in E:  chords  E   /    B    /  A   /   E   – you can also do it as high as G:  chords G  /  D   /  C   /  G)