August 7, 2022

Here is the worship guide for Sunday, August 7, 2022.

PDF version of the worship guide to download or print.

The livestream will begin at 9:15 a.m. on our Facebook page or YouTube page.

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Welcome and Announcements

Opening Prayer

Hymn: “In Christ Alone”
Words and music: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All; here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh; fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness scorned by the ones He came to save;
’til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied;
for every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay; Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then, bursting forth in glorious Day, up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;|
for I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;
’til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

Hymn: “My Worth Is Not in What I Own”
Words and music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick

My worth is not in what I own,not in the strength of flesh and bone,
but in the costly wounds of love at the cross.

My worth is not in skill or name, in win or lose, in pride or shame,
but in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross.

I rejoice in my Redeemer, Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul,
I will trust in Him, no other; my soul is satisfied in Him alone.

As summer flowers we fade and die; fame, youth, and beauty hurry by,
but life eternal calls to us at the cross.

I will not boast in wealth or might, or human wisdom’s fleeting light,
but I will boast in knowing Christ at the cross.

I rejoice in my Redeemer, Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul,
I will trust in Him, no other; my soul is satisfied in Him alone.

Two wonders here that I confess: my worth and my unworthiness,
my value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross.

Time of Prayer

Sermon: “The Lord Is My Strength”

Psalm 28 (ESV)

Of David.

To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.

Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts.
Give to them according to their work
and according to the evil of their deeds;
give to them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
or the work of his hands,
he will tear them down and build them up no more.

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Hymn: “The Communion Hymn”
Words and music: Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend.

Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away, slain for us, and we remember
the promise made that all who come in faith find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life, and we drink of His sacrifice
as a sign of our bonds of peace around the table of the King.

The body of our Savior Jesus Christ, torn for you, eat and remember
the wounds that heal, the death that brings us life paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life, and we drink of His sacrifice
as a sign of our bonds of love around the table of the King.

The blood that cleanses every stain of sin, shed for you, drink and remember
He drained death’s cup that all may enter in to receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life, and we drink of His sacrifice
as a sign of our bonds of grace around the table of the King.

And so with thankfulness and faith we rise to respond, and to remember
our call to follow in the steps of Christ as His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering we proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven around the table of the King.

The Lord’s Supper

Hymn: “I Will Sing of My Redeemer”
Words: Philip P. Bliss. Music: Rowland H. Prichard.

I will sing of my Redeemer, and His wondrous love to me;
on the cruel cross He suffered, from the curse to set me free.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer, with His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon, paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story how, my lost estate to save,
in His boundless love and mercy, He the ransom freely gave.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer, with His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon, paid the debt, and made me free.

I will praise my dear Redeemer, His triumphant power I’ll tell,
how the victory He giveth over sin, and death, and hell.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer, with His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon, paid the debt, and made me free.

I will sing of my Redeemer, and His heav’nly love for me;
He from death to life hath brought me, Son of God with Him to be.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer, with His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon, paid the debt, and made me free.

Benediction
Philippians 4:23 (ESV)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 

June 5, 2022

Here is the worship guide for Sunday, June 5, 2022.

PDF version of the worship guide to download or print.

The livestream will begin at 10:30 a.m. on our Facebook page or YouTube page.

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Welcome and Announcements

Opening Prayer

Hymn: “How Great Thou Art”
Words by Stuart J. Hine, who arranged a Swedish folk melody

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
sent him to die, I scarce can take it in;
that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
and there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Hymn: “Across the Lands”
Words and music: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

You’re the Word of God the Father from before the world began.
Ev’ry star and ev’ry planet has been fashioned by Your hand.
All creation holds together by the power of Your voice.
Let the skies declare Your glory; let the land and seas rejoice!

You’re the Author of creation; You’re the Lord of ev’ry man;
and Your cry of love rings out across the lands.

Yet You left the gaze of angels, came to seek and save the lost,
and exchanged the joy of heaven for the anguish of a cross.
With a prayer You fed the hungry; with a word You calmed the sea;
Yet how silently You suffered that the guilty may go free!

You’re the Author of creation; You’re the Lord of ev’ry man;
and Your cry of love rings out across the lands.

With a shout You rose victorious, wresting vict’ry from the grave,
And ascended into heaven, leading captives in Your way.
Now You stand before the Father, interceding for Your own;
From each tribe and tongue and nation, You are leading sinners home!

You’re the Author of creation; You’re the Lord of ev’ry man;
and Your cry of love rings out across the lands.

Time of Prayer

Sermon: “Declare the Glory of God”

Psalm 19 (ESV)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10  More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11  Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12  Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Hymn: “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”
Words and Music: Stuart Townend.

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,
that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away
as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.

The Lord’s Supper

Hymn: “O Fount of Love”
Words and music by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa.

O fount of love divine that flows from my Savior’s bleeding side
Where sinners trade their filthy rags for His righteousness applied.
Mercy cleansing ev’ry stain, now rushing o’er us like a flood;
There the wretch and vilest ones stand adopted through His blood.

O mount of grace to Thee we cling, from the law hath set us free.
Once and for all on Calv’ry’s hill, love and justice shall agree.
Praise the Lord! The price is paid, the curse defeated by the Lamb.
We who once were slaves by birth, sons and daughters now we stand.

O well of joy is mine to drink, for my Lord has conquered death.,
Victorious forevermore, the ancient foe is laid to rest.
Hallelujah! Christ is King, alive and reigning on the throne;
Our tongues employed with hymns of praise: Glory be to God alone.

Hallelujah! Christ is King, alive and reigning on the throne;
Our tongues employed with hymns of praise: Glory be to God alone.

Benediction
Romans 15:13 (ESV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

May 29, 2022

Here is the worship guide for Sunday, May 29, 2022.

PDF version of the worship guide to download or print.

The livestream will begin at 10:30 a.m. on our Facebook page or YouTube page.

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Welcome and Announcements

Opening Prayer

Hymn: “O Worship the King”
Words by Robert Grant. Music by Johann Michael Haydn.

O worship the King all-glorious above,
and gratefully sing His wonderful love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail.
Thy mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

Hymn: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Words: Robert Robinson. Music: traditional American melody.

Come, Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

Hither to Thy love has blest me; Thou has brought me to this place;
And I know Thy hand will bring me safely home by Thy good grace.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger, bought me with His precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face,
Clothed then in the blood-washed linen how I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace.
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry, take my ransomed soul away;
Send Thine angels now to carry me to realms of endless day.

Song: “This Is Amazing Grace”
Words and Music: Phil Wickham, Jeremy Riddle, and Josh Farro.

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness,
whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
and leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love,
that You would take my place, that You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Who brings our chaos back into order,
who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of glory, the King of glory.

Who rules the nations with truth and justice,
shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love,
that You would take my place, that You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!
Worthy, worthy, worthy!

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love,
that You would take my place, that You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Time of Prayer

Sermon: “The Lord Is My Rock”
Psalm 18 (ESV)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10  He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11  He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12  Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

13  The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14  And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15  Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16  He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17  He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18  They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19  He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

20  The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21  For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22  For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23  I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24  So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25  With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26  with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27  For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28  For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29  For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30  This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

31  For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32  the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33  He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34  He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35  You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36  You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37  I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38  I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39  For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40  You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41  They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42  I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

43  You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44  As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45  Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.

46  The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47  the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48  who rescued me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.

49  For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50  Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.

Hymn: “Rock of Ages”
Words: August M. Toplady. Music: Thomas Hastings.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;
let the water and the blood,  from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure; cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown, see Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.

Benediction
Hebrews 13:20–21 (ESV)
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

October 17, 2021

Here is the worship guide for Sunday, October 17, 2021

PDF version of the worship guide to download or print.

The livestream will begin at 10:30 a.m. on our Facebook page or YouTube page.

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Welcome and Announcements

Opening Prayer

Song: “Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)”
Words and music: Brenton Brown and Paul Baloche

Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You; we turn to You.
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You; we long for You;
’Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day.
In Your presence all our fears are washed away, washed away.

Hosanna, hosanna, You are the God who saves us, worthy of all our praises.
Hosanna, hosanna, come have Your way among us; we welcome You here, Lord Jesus.

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You; we turn to You.
In Your kingdom broken hearts are made new; You make us new;
’Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day.
In Your presence all our fears are washed away, washed away.

Hosanna, hosanna, You are the God who saves us, worthy of all our praises.
Hosanna, hosanna, come have Your way among us; we welcome You here, Lord Jesus.

Hymn: “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”
Words: Charles Wesley. Music: Carl G. Glaser

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease;
’tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your Savior come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of Thy name.

Hymn: “Come, Christians, Join to Sing”
Words: Christian Bateman. Music: Traditional Spanish Melody.

Come, Christians, join to sing
Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King;
Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice.
Alleluia! Amen!

Come, lift your hearts on high,
Alleluia! Amen!
Let praises fill the sky;
Alleluia! Amen!
He is our Guide and Friend;
To us He’ll condescend;
His love shall never end.
Alleluia! Amen!

Praise yet our Christ again,
Alleluia! Amen!
Life shall not end the strain;
Alleluia! Amen!
On heaven’s blissful shore,
His goodness we’ll adore,
Singing forevermore,
“Alleluia! Amen!”

Time of Prayer

Sermon: “Worship in Spirit and Truth”

Numerous Scripture references will be read or referenced. Some of them include:

Deuteronomy 6:13 (ESV)

It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

Psalm 50:7–15 (ESV)

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10  For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11  I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
12  “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13  Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14  Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15  and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Psalm 50:23 (ESV)

23  The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”

Psalm 51:16–17 (ESV)

16  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Proverbs 15:8 (ESV)

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV)

13  And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.

Hosea 6:6 (ESV)

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 8:11–13 (ESV)

11  Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
12  Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.|
13  As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the Lord does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.

Amos 5:21–24 (ESV)

21  “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
23  Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24  But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Micah 6:6–8 (ESV)

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Acts 17:24–25 (ESV)

24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

John 4:19–26 (ESV)

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Romans 12:1 (ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Song: “O Sing, My Soul”
Words and music by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa

O sing, my soul, the ancient song, and lend Your highest praise
to Him who is the King of old and dwells in endless days.
How resplendent His glory! How majestic His name!
Now to the Uncreated One, oh, Let the anthem raise.

O worship Him our Father God, the Spirit and the Word,
Who fashioned all things from His joy, and saw that it was good.
What perfection of friendship, what communion we shared!
But choosing death, we fell from life aside the guilty pair.

Now hear, my soul, the gospel song, attend the joyful news,
for Christ has come, the perfect Son, His Father’s will to choose.
In our place He did suffer, in our place became sin,
the death of death, the death of Christ who stands alive again

Now, people of the risen Lord, O hear the call to go.
Into the world we have been sent as messengers of hope.
Christ alone be our treasure, Christ alone our reward.
Come, bid the nations sing with us the praises of the Lord.

Benediction

Romans 15:33 (ESV)

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

 

July 25, 2021

Here is the worship guide for Sunday, July 25, 2021

PDF version of the worship guide to download or print.

The livestream will begin at 10:30 a.m. on our Facebook page or YouTube page.

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Welcome and Announcements

Opening Prayer

Hymn: “Holy, Holy, Holy”
Words: Reginald Heber. Music: John B. Dykes

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
who were, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Hymn: “The Love of God”
Words and music: Frederick M. Lehman.

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell;
the guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away, and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
when men who here refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure, all measureless and strong;
redeeming grace to Adam’s race—the saints’ and angels’ song.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made,
were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade;
to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

Hymn: “See, He Comes”

Words: Charles Wesley. Music: Zach Sprowls and Rich Gunderlock.

See, He comes upon the clouds, Jesus Christ, our King appears.
All the saints bought by His blood  will rise to meet Him in the air.
Earth and sea shall flee away, all creation waits and groans,
for the Lord Redeemer comes to take His longing exiles home.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, come, O Lord, on earth to reign.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, we await the coming day.

Those who mocked and scorned His name, pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
deeply wail, in sorrow grieve, when they the true Messiah see.
Ev’ry eye will see the Lord dressed in dreadful majesty;
ev’ry knee shall bow before the Judge of all eternity.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, come, O Lord, on earth to reign.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, we await the coming day.

Still He bears the holy scars: evidence of saving grace.
All the saints bought by His blood shall then rejoice to see His face.
Yes, amen, let all adore Christ on His eternal throne.
All the pow’r and might are Yours, come, claim the kingdom as Your own.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, come, O Lord, on earth to reign.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, we await the coming day.

Time of Prayer

Sermon: “They Did Not Repent”
Revelation 16 (ESV)

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”

And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

Hymn: “In Christ Alone”
Words and music: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All; here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh; fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness scorned by the ones He came to save;
’til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied;
for every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay; Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then, bursting forth in glorious Day, up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
for I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;
’til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

Benediction
2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

 

On Music

This sermon was preached by Brian Watson on October 23, 2016.
MP3 recording of the sermon.
PDF of the written sermon (see also below).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at some important things that we do in the church. And today, I want to talk about something we do every single week. I want to talk about music.

I don’t think I need to tell you that music is an important part of life. We hear it everywhere: On the radio, on soundtracks to movies and television shows, on commercials, and, yes, in the church. Yet we don’t often spend time talking about music, what it means, and why it’s important.

So, today I want to do that. I want to help us think Christianly about music. More specifically, I want us to think about the role of singing in the life of the church. To do that, I’m going to ask and answer a series of questions.

Here’s the first question: Why do we sing? Maybe that sounds like a funny question to ask. Perhaps some of you are thinking, “Why shouldn’t we sing?” But it’s an important question to ask. I think that public singing is a lot less common than it used to be. There’s only one place outside the church and outside choirs where people tend to sing in public, and that’s at rock concerts. We don’t sing in the mall, at the movie theater, or at sporting events. (Unless you sing the national anthem, or belt out “Sweet Caroline” at Red Sox games, or if you’re that guy who’s had a little too much beer.)

Singing used to be much more common, particularly before radio, television, and the Internet. In the nineteenth century, if you wanted home entertainment, you played and sang music. In an opinion piece written for the New York Times twenty-five years ago, Russell Baker noted that even through World War II, Americans sang more. That was true during the war, when people would even sing in movie theaters to “follow the bouncing ball” tunes. He writes, “The songs may have been silly, melancholy, propagandistic and sentimental, but singing them helped Americans define a communal identity for themselves. Nowadays the absence of singing defines our lack of communal identity, our national apartness, our aloneness.”[1]

But singing together is making a bit of a comeback. Several years ago, I read an article in the New York Times about group-singing, which is when people come together just to sing. They’re not performing or worshiping; they’re not even professionals; they just want to sing with other people. Pete Seeger, the folk singer, was a champion of group-singing. He said, “I think that singing together gives people some kind of a holy feeling. And it can happen whether they’re atheists, or whoever. You feel like, ‘Gee, we’re all together.’”[2] Notice that he is essentially saying that singing together creates community.

Also, research has shown that singing in groups can reduce levels of cortisol, associated with stress and weight gain, and singing can also lower blood pressure. Singing in groups helps produce endorphins and oxytocin, which create feelings of pleasure and fight against feelings of stress and anxiety.[3] So, singing seems to be good for our health.

Here’s another reason to sing: Music is quite simply a good gift. I don’t think that any of us would deny that music is a good thing. Just think of what life would be like if music didn’t exist. We could still function, yet life would be duller. Music is something that we don’t absolutely need, but something that makes life better. From a biblical perspective, we can say that music is grace: An undeserved, good gift from God. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

So, music is a good gift, singing together is good for us, and it creates a sense of community. Those are some good reasons to sing. But there are more.

Within the story of the Bible, God’s people have always sung, particularly in response to God’s great acts of salvation. When God rescued the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt by bringing them through the Red Sea, they sang on the other side (Exod. 15). Moses and the Israelites sang,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exod. 15:1b–2).[4]

Over four hundred years later, when David was king, the Israelites brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, and David commanded the Levites to identify singers and instrumentalists to “play loudly” and “raise sounds of joy” (1 Chron. 15:16). And then David sang,

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works! (1 Chron. 16:8-9)

23  Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24  Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples! (1 Chron. 16:23-24)

When David’s son, Solomon, built the temple in Jerusalem, singers helped the people celebrate (2 Chron. 5:12-13). Clearly, God’s people celebrated important events in their history with singing. They sang of God’s salvation of them and God’s provision for them. And it seems that they didn’t even have to be commanded by God to sing. They sang because they wanted to. They sang because they were thankful for what God had done for them.

And that leads me to another point: We often sing about what we love the most. We praise what we love. That’s why love songs exist. People sing about the one they love. Singing helps us express our greatest desires and our greatest emotions.[5]

I would say that one of the main reasons why we sing is so that we can get theological truths from our heads into our hearts. When we sing, we’re not just rehearsing true statements about God and what he has done. When we sing, we feel what God is like and what he has done for us. God has made us not just to be thinking creatures, but also feeling creatures. And he has given us bodies, so we are supposed to be creatures that not only feel things emotionally, but feel things physically. Singing is a physical act that helps us feel emotionally. When we sing true words about God, we are thinking, feeling, and doing all at the same time.

Sometimes, we sing in response to something we already feel. Sometimes, we sing in order to feel something that we know to be true but don’t yet feel. I don’t know if any of you have sung a hymn to remind yourself of a truth you already know. I know I have. (“It Is Well with My Soul” is particularly good for Christians when they don’t feel that things are well.) I imagine that’s what Paul and Silas did in Acts 16:25 when they were in jail in Philippi. I doubt they sang because they were feeling good. They probably sang to remind themselves of who God is and what he had already done for them and what he promised he would do for them in the future. I think that singing is one of the few things that helps when we’re not feeling thankful to God, when we’re depressed, or when we seem to lost our love for God.

Here’s another reason why singing is good: It helps us memorize truths. How many of us can remember lyrics to the silliest, most worthless songs we heard when we were young? Sometimes, even when we don’t try to memorize words to songs, we do anyway. When we sing hymns and songs that have words directly from the Bible or words based on the Bible, we start to memorize theological truths that stick with us.

Singing is also something that we can do as a congregation. It’s an activity we can all be engaged in at the same time. That’s another reason to sing.

Of course, we also sing because we’re commanded to. In the Old Testament, we find commands to sing, particularly in the Psalms. We read things like:

  Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name (Ps. 30:4).

And:

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm! (Ps. 47:6–7)[6]

We also find commands to sing in the New Testament, which we’ll look at in a moment.

All of this leads me to a second question: What are we supposed to sing? We have several good reasons to sing, but what does the Bible say about what types of songs we are supposed to sing?

I ask this question because there tends to be tension in churches about whether old hymns or new songs should be sung. What does the Bible actually say about this issue?

There are two passages in the New Testament that tell us what kind of things we should sing. The two passages are parallel; in other words, they basically say the same thing, and they are both written by Paul.

The first one is Ephesians 5:19. To get a sense of the context, I’ll read verses 15–21:

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In this passage, Paul is in the middle of telling the Ephesians how to live in light of the gospel. Paul has spent the first three chapters telling the Ephesians about how God has predestined them for salvation, and how God has redeemed them with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He has told them that God the Father has adopted them now that they are united to the Son of God. He has told them that they have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. He has told them that Jesus is above all power and authority on earth. He has told them that they have been reconciled to God and saved from sin and condemnation, all through God’s free gift of grace. They have been made spiritually alive, and this is God’s work. Paul has told them that God has brought them into the one people of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells and where God’s wisdom and glory are displayed.

I take time to describe this because this is the good news of Christianity. We all have turned away from God. We have ignored our purpose for living, which is to have a right relationship with God. Yet God saves his people by sending his Son to live the perfect life that none of us live. He is the perfect representative of God. He is the one who truly worships God always. And yet though he is perfect and never did anything wrong, he was treated as a criminal and he was sentenced to death. He agreed to this plan, dying on the cross in our place, so that everyone who turns to him, trusts him, and follows him has the penalty for their sin paid for. If turning away from God is a crime, we are all guilty. But those who turn to Jesus are declared innocent because Jesus paid did the time for them. He paid their sentence. They are now free to live as children of God.

This is a great reason why we should sing. Christians have been forgiven and have been reconciled to God, not because we are good, but because Jesus is good. And we can look forward to living with God in a perfect world on that day when Jesus returns and makes all things right, when the dead are raised and Christians receive new bodies that cannot die again.

As Paul is telling the Ephesians how to make the best use of their time, he tells them that they shouldn’t get drunk. They shouldn’t be controlled by alcohol. By extension, they shouldn’t be controlled by drugs, either. But they should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. And they should address one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Don’t miss that: Part of the way that we make good use of our time is by singing to each other.

The parallel passage is in the book of Colossians, which is another one of Paul’s letters. Specifically, the verse is Colossians 3:16, but to get some context, I’ll read verses 12–17:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Here, you can see that Paul wants us to be more like Jesus. And he wants us to be thankful. But look at verse 16: Paul tells us to “[l]et the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” In Ephesians, Paul says to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, he says to have Christ’s word dwell in us. If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you need to be filled with Jesus’ words. And, really, the whole Bible is Jesus’ words because Jesus is God. So, if you want to experience more of God, you need his words dwelling in you.

But, as far as music goes, the point in these two passages is that we should sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Somehow, this is part of how the Spirit fills us, how the word of Christ dwells in us, and how we teach and admonish each other. What do these three categories of song mean? It seems that “Psalms” are the Psalms of the Old Testament.[7] They are songs of praise. That’s why many Psalms have some musical direction underneath their titles. The words are poetry, and they are like prayers, but they are intended also to be sung. That’s why many churches sing settings of Psalms regularly. The best hymns pull phrases from different parts of the Bible, including the Psalms. And even new songs incorporate ideas and phrases from the Psalms. For example, the refrain “Bless the Lord, O my soul” that we sing in the song “10,000 Reasons” comes from Psalm 103.

A “hymn” here doesn’t refer to a style of music. It refers to a “song of praise.” The word itself is hardly used in the New Testament, but in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is used to refer to “songs of praise” or “praise” (Pss. 39:4; 64:2; 99:4; 118:171; Isa. 42:10). This word may refer to the texts we have in the New Testament that appear to be songs, like Mary’s “Magnificat” in Luke 1:46-55, or the “song of Simeon” (the “Nunc Dimittas”) in Luke 2:29-32. Other possible hymns are John 1:1–18; Philippians 2:6–11; Colossians 1:15–20; and 1 Timothy 3:16.

A “spiritual songs” doesn’t mean spirituals, or songs that are “spiritual,” which is pretty vague. It refers to songs prompted by the Holy Spirit. These could be spontaneous songs composed on the spot.

At any rate, these three words refer to types of texts. They do not refer to musical genres. And here’s an important point: We have no idea what the music sung in biblical times sounded like. Modern musical notation started around the year 900, over 800 years after the Bible was completed, and it would take a few hundred years for that notation to resemble what we have today. So we don’t have the sheet music of that time. Obviously, we don’t have any audio recordings of early Christian music. But what Jesus and Paul sang was very different from “Amazing Grace,” and I’m sure even our older hymns might have sounded very foreign to their ears.

The point is that the Bible doesn’t tell us a certain musical style to sing. Musical styles are constantly changing. What’s most important are the words we sing. We need to sing words that reflect and communicate biblical truth. They need to be centered on God. They need to exalt Jesus. And they should be ones that can be understood by people today.

As for music, we should try to sing music that is beautiful, music that reminds us that God is transcendent and glorious. That means we should try to identify some hymns and songs that will stand the test of time. We should also try to sing music that stirs our souls, songs that speak to our hearts. We should sing music that is intelligible to contemporary generations. After all, music is a language unto itself, and we want our language to be understood. That means that some of our songs will be newer, able to speak more directly to the hearts of younger people.

When we sing as a congregation, we want to sing music that can be sung together. That means we can’t sing music that is too difficult to sing. The music we sing shouldn’t have too wide of a range. It shouldn’t be too high or too low. The rhythm can’t be too complex. Handel’s Messiah is a great piece of music, but a church full of average singers won’t be able to sing it well. Our goal is to sing together.

It should go without saying that this emphasis on congregational singing means that our music isn’t meant to be entertainment. We’re not here to put on a show. In fact, the kind of music sung should be one of the least important factors in picking a church. What’s more important is whether the church is preaching the Bible accurately and whether the church is following the Bible’s teachings faithfully.

You may have favorite hymns and songs that we haven’t been singing. And the reason we haven’t been signing them is that they may not be good pieces of music, songs that have a beautiful melody or harmonic progression. They may be pieces that sound like they belong to one particular musical era that has come and gone. Their words may not be theologically sound. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these hymns and songs at home. But for our corporate worship, I try to pick music that is of good theology, good quality, is singable, stirs the soul, and is intelligible to younger generations. That’s a hard balance to achieve.

One last word on the type of music we should sing. The music has to match the text. You can sing the words of “Amazing Grace” to the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island.” In some of the songs we have in our current hymnal, the music doesn’t really fit the text, or even the words don’t fit the theological theme. The greatest example I can think of is “Jesus Is Coming Again” (#567).

Now, very briefly, I want to ask my third question: How do we play music? How do we sing?

We should play musical instruments with excellence. Psalm 33:2–3 says,

Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

I think we should all agree that God deserves to be praised with good music that is performed well. Instrumentalists need to play well. Those who lead singing should be able to sing well.

But, at the same time, when we sing together, it’s not a concert. What matters most is our hearts. We need to sing with hearts tuned to praise God. As Jesus said, God is looking for those who will worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). If singing is a part of worship (please don’t confuse singing with worship!), then singing, too, should be done in spirit and in truth.

I also think we should consider singing in parts, in harmony, because when we sing the same song in parts, we are reflecting the body of Christ. But before I get too far with that idea, I want to move to the piano so I can talk a bit more about music. After all, talking about music is like dancing about architecture. (That’s a saying I didn’t make up, though I don’t know where it originated. Also, the original saying, I believe, is “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”) Architecture must be seen and experienced, just as music must be heard and experienced. So, let me move to the piano to demonstrate some points.

As I do that, I want to ask a fourth question: What does music say about God?

Let me continue with the idea of parts. In music, we have the melody, the tune. But we also have harmony, the combination of notes that come together to produce a chord. In music, we can have one chord that consists of many different notes. So, there is unity and plurality in a chord, and there is unity and plurality to a four-part hymn. In the same way, there is unity and plurality to the body of Christ, the church. We are one because we are united to Jesus. But we all play different roles. In that way, the church is like a choir. Not all of us will be soloists. Not all of us will sing the melody, the soprano line. Some will, and they are the more visible members of the church. But some of us will perform supporting roles. We’ll sing the inner voices of the chords, the alto and tenor parts. Some members of the church will play foundational roles. They’ll be our basses. Though we all sing different parts, we’re all singing the same piece of music.

You might even say that the unity and plurality of music echoes the unity and plurality of God. We proclaim that there is one God in three Persons. Now, we can’t say that is exactly like one chord consisting of three notes. Because with God, the fullness of God is found in each Person of God; Jesus isn’t one-third of God. So, the analogy breaks down quickly. But there is perfect harmony in a triad just as there is perfect harmony in the Trinity.

Here’s something else, which may be harder to discuss. I think that music is evidence for the existence of God. If you’re not a musician, this next bit may make your eyes glaze over. In fact, it may make your doughnuts glaze over. It’s that technical.

To illustrate, I want to play a short piece of music on the piano. This is a short piano piece written by the German composer, Robert Schumann (1801–1856). It’s called “Träumerei,” which means “dreaming” or “reverie.” It’s part of a larger collection of piano pieces called Kinderszenen, written in 1838.

Here are the two things I want to point out. In a piece of music like this, the musical language or structure is fairly simple. There are a few main chords that are played, with some secondary chords that provide some color. The music sounds good. It’s harmonious. Mostly, this piece of music contains major triads. It’s written in the key of F major. That’s a diatonic key, consisting of seven notes that alternate between whole steps and half steps. (If you don’t know music, think “Doe, a deer, a female deer; ray, a drop of golden sun . . .”). In that key, there are some very prominent chords, such as F major (F-A-C) and C major (C-E-G) or C7, the dominant seventh (C-E-G-Bb). These chords are very consonant. They sound good together. Even when there are brief bits of dissonance, they resolve. We have a strong sense of where “home” is. It’s F, the tonic. We know that the penultimate chord, C7, must resolve to F and not some other chord, like E major or A-flat major.

Here’s what’s interesting: The fact that all of this sounds so normal and good to us is not because it’s simply the music we’re used to. Some people will say that. We can call them musical relativists. They are the kind of people who refuse to say that any one type of music is better than any other. But I think that’s wrong.

The reason why this music sounds so good, and why other, more experimental music of, say, the twentieth century, sounds bad is because this music is based on mathematical relationships. The relationships between notes in a major or minor key, or between chords in those keys, are based on simple mathematical proportions or ratios.

Many of us have heard of “A 440.” That means that the frequency of the A above middle C (A4) is 440 Hz. That means that when I play this key, if it’s tuned to 440hz, the frequency of the strings vibrating will be 440 times per second. The strings will vibrate 440 times per second, which produces sound waves that will oscillate that many times per second. (There will be other vibrations present, which produce harmonics.) Now, if you go to the A above this A (which will be A5), the frequency will be 880. That’s double 440. Every time you go up an octave, the frequency doubles. Of course, every time you go down an octave, the frequency will be divided in two.[8] So, that is a nice mathematical relationship. But you don’t need to know that to know hear the octave.

Now, let’s think about the notes within a key. If we’re in A major, the most prominent chord will be an A major triad: A-C#-E (or do-mi-so in solfege). If the A is 440 Hz, the C-sharp should be 550 Hz, and E 660 Hz. That’s a 4:5:6 ratio. The next most prominent chord is the E major chord, the dominant. And that’s based on E, which is 1.5 times the frequency of A. In fact, all of the common intervals are based on simple ratios. The perfect fourth is a 3:4 ratio. The minor third is a 5:6 ratio. The second is an 8:9 ratio. The major sixth is a 3:5 ratio. The minor seventh is a 4:7 ratio. There is obviously a great deal of order to this music. These aren’t complex, seemingly random ratios (like 1:1.719358).

This illustration is found in Vern Poythress’s Redeeming Science.[9]

This table is found on a Wikipedia page concerning music and mathematics.[10]

Here’s the point of all of this: I believe that God created music for our good. I believe he created the language and structure of music based on mathematical proportions. The reason why this music sounds good to our ears is because it lines up with God’s design for music. The combination of frequencies that harmonize mathematically sound good to our ears because God created our ears, our minds, and the building blocks of music. This is not something we created or invented. It’s something that already exists, something that we discovered. And I think that’s true of so much in this world. It’s true of science. It’s true of God’s design for us as human beings. It’s true of God’s design for marriage and the family. When we discover how God has arranged these things in nature, we find harmony. When we go against God’s design, we get dissonance and cacophony. That’s why music that tries to abandon major and minor scales and these basic intervals doesn’t sound right. It’s going against fabric of God’s creation.

Here’s another reason why music is evidence for God. I think this point is easier to understand. Part of what makes music beautiful is that it is bound by the limitations of time. In short, music runs in real time. We can’t stop it. Yes, you can pause on a chord and just hold it. But it has to move onward until the end of the piece. Yes, you can play it again, but the more and more you play one piece of music, the less beautiful it seems to us. There is something elusive about the beauty of music. It’s like the beauty of fall in New England. It’s wonderful to see the leaves turn color. But there’s a short window of time when we can see these beautiful leaves on trees. Before long, the trees are bare and it’s winter. That makes the beauty of this season more precious. Yet here’s also something kind of heartbreaking about it. In this world, we want to hang on to beauty, but we can’t. We want the world to be beautiful always because we have a sense that that is the way the world ought to be. Yet we find that we can’t hang on to beauty because we live in a now-fallen world. So we want beauty, but beauty never lasts, and that fact makes the experience of beauty a bittersweet one. David Skeel calls this the “paradox of beauty.” He writes, “This perception that beauty is real and that it reflects the universe as it is meant to be, but that it is impermament and somehow corrupted, is the paradox of beauty.”[11] The story of Christianity accounts for this paradox. God made a beautiful world that was marred by sin. We now live in a fallen world. We can experience beauty, but it never lasts. We long for a perfect world where beauty remains, where it stays and we don’t get bored of it. And Christianity tells us that Jesus will make this perfect world—and perfectly beautiful—when he comes to restore all things. So even the elusive beauty of music is evidence for the Christian worldview.

One last thing: Music and singing tell us something about God. In one passage in the Old Testament, in the prophet Zephaniah, we’re told that God himself sings over his people. This is Zephaniah 3:14–20:

14  Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15  The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16  On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17  The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18  I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19  Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20  At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord.

The prophet Zephaniah spoke of the day of the Lord (Zeph. 1:7), a day of judgment and a day of salvation. After judgment, God would restore his people, and defeat their enemies. Jesus has taken away the judgment of all who turn to him, trust him, and follow him. Yet we look forward to the day when all of this is completed, when Jesus defeats the last enemy, which is death (1 Cor. 15:26). As we wait for that day, we can know this: God exults over us with loud singing. Earlier, I said that we sing about the things we love. We praise what we love. God sings over his people because he loves them. Let us sing about God, because we love him in return.

Notes

  1. Russell Baker, “Observer; Hear America Listening,” New York Times, November 2, 1991, http://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/02/opinion/observer-hear-america-listening.html, accessed October 22, 1991.
  2. Ben Ratliff, “Shared Song, Communal Memory,” New York Times, February 10, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/arts/music/10ratli.html, accessed October 22, 2016.
  3. Stacy Horn, “Singing Changes Your Brain,” Time, August 16, 2013, http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain, accessed October 22, 2016.
  4. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).
  5. See James 5:13b: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”
  6. See also Pss. 81:1; 95:1; 96:1–2; 98:1, 4–6; 105:2; 135:3; 147:7; 149:1.
  7. The Greek word, ψαλμος, is used also in 1 Corinthians 14:26, where it may not refer to a Psalm of the Old Testament but to a song of praise or “hymn” (as in the ESV).
  8. On pianos, the actually frequencies may vary due to something called equal temperament, which makes it possible to play any key and have it sound good. The frequencies I mention here would be found in just temperament, or just intonation, which is a more pure tuning.
  9. Vern Poythress, Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 288.
  10. “Music and Mathematics,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_and_mathematics, accessed October 22, 2016.
  11. David Skeel, True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2014), 65.

 

On Music

Pastor Brian Watson presents a message on music, particularly singing in church. He asks and answers four important questions: Why do we sing? What do we sing? How do we sing? What does music tell us about God and his people?