Great Among the NationsPosted: February 26, 2014
It was awesome this past weekend to be in Northwest Indiana for a retreat with worship leaders of small churches in the Midwest. As I shared with them, the work that they are doing is so crucially important, as the gospel is spread to “every tribe and language.” I love big conferences, or worshipping with the whole LA Church of Christ, but singing songs to God with a small group of 50 to 100 of disciples is my favorite setting for worship. There is such a connection between everyone, you can hear everyone’s voices, and you can immediately tell if what you are doing as a worship leader is working or not working in terms of engagement.
We had a workshop during much of the day on Saturday, and a concert Saturday night and worship Sunday morning with the Northwest Indiana Church of Christ. One of the songs we sang was “Great Among the Nations,” and I was told it’s one of the favorites of the church there. Coincidentally I recently found the piece of paper recently on which that song was written, and so I was prompted to share that song today, along with a new recording that teaches the vocal parts.
Quite a few years back I was asked by my friend (and my former teen minister!) Drew Nitchoff if I would write a song for a conference called “Great Among the Nations,” based on this verse:
My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. – Malachi 1:11
The context of this verse is this: It was now after the exile. God’s people had returned to the promised land, the temple had been rebuilt, and yet things were still not good. People were not doing things with the right heart. The leaders were not calling people towards God. But the good news of Malachi was that God himself would intervene. He would send his messenger (“Malachi” means messenger). And then he himself would come to his temple.
All the prophets pointed to this reality –that the Messiah would come and establish an eternal kingdom. And so this song refers back to some of these prophesies and their fulfillment in the kingdom of God…a kingdom not built by human hands, that would begin in
Jerusalem and fill the whole earth (Isaiah 2:2-3)…a kingdom that endure forever (Daniel 2:44) and be possessed by the saints (Daniel 7:18)… a kingdom which we are so blessed to now be able to be a part of:
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves… – Colossians 1:13
I’m posted several versions of the song below. Here is a new recording I just made that teaches the vocal parts. You can get the sheet music here.
Here is a version of us doing the song in 2008 in Kiev, Ukraine. Side note: be praying for our brothers and sisters over there! There is so much unrest with the government overthrow but the disciples see God’s hand moving through it all – no doubt his kingdom will advance in even greater ways through this time. Side note #2: You can see at the beginning of this video me wrestling a bit with getting the thing started – we were coming out of a fellowship break – as any worship leader knows getting a big group of disciples (especially ministers at a leadership conference) to stop talking and start singing is always a little difficult. I don’t mind it too much – I’m so grateful we have such an electric fellowship. Stick with the video through to verse three, it gets much better! Side note #3: as the brother filming is walking through the crowd it is cool to hear the local brothers and sisters singing in Russian.
Here is a version in Russian that is awesome. They go to double time on the third verse. Really cool.
Here is the Portland church doing the song – nice representation of all the vocal parts. Good example of going right into the next verse, if you are doing it a capella or don’t want a music only section between the verses.
Here is the version that is on my 2005 album “Be with Me Lord” along with lyrics.
Finally, here is a really cool groovy backing track for this song that was made by the amazing Winston Philip from the Baltimore (and previously NYC) church. The R&B version. Now that’s awesome – probably the way we’ll do it in heaven.