31 Oct

Wednesday Is for Worship: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Hello, worshipers!  It’s Wednesday, and before you don your costume and head out to gather together all of the Halloween goodies, I’ve come in just the nick of time to remind you that today is not just Halloween.  More importantly, it’s REFORMATION DAY!  It was on this day back in 1517 when a vexed Augustinian monk named Martin Luther sparked what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation by nailing 95 theses against indulgences to the front door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany.

We Christians today reap the benefit of that great reformation not only theologically, but also doxologically.  You see, Luther was not only a great reformer, scholar, and pastor, he also was a hymn writer.  Therefore, it’s only fitting that today’s WIFW be devoted to his best known hymn:  “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

Luther wrote the words and music in 1529, and Frederic H. Hedge trans­lat­ed the lyrics from Ger­man to Eng­lish in 1853.  This song has been called the great­est hymn of the great­est man of the great­est per­i­od of Ger­man his­to­ry and the Bat­tle Hymn of the Ref­or­ma­tion.  It was sung at the fun­er­al of Amer­i­can pre­si­dent Dwight Ei­sen­how­er at the Na­tion­al Ca­thed­ral in Wash­ing­ton, DC, March 1969.

The traditional version is great to sing along with, but I’ve included below a very powerful rendition of it.  It starts traditional, and then breaks out into a moving contemporary arrangement.  I’m not sure who’s performing it, but it’s awesome!

Worship our almighty God and take heart!

24 Oct

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Forever Reign”

It’s almost 3:00p, but Wednesday isn’t over yet.  Let’s turn our thoughts to worship with a simple but powerful song called “Forever Reign.”

Written in 2009 by Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan and published through Hillsong Music, I first worshiped the Lord with this song at the Connect worship time at my son’s school co-op under the leadership of Hunter Sparkman.  My heart has loved it from the first time!

“Forever Reign” is great mix of the subjective (feeling-based) and objective (fact-based) realities of worship.  It contains all of the objective facts that God is good, love, light, hope, peace, true, joy, life, Lord, and the ultimate reality (God).  These truths give rise to the subjective feelings of wanting to run into the Lord’s arms.  There is truth, and there overflowing love toward the Lord and desire for the Lord and extolling of the Lord.  These truths lead the heart to sing “Jesus!!”

May that be your heart’s song today as you join the Hillsong band!

VERSE 1
You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

VERSE 2
You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life
In You death has lost it’s sting

CHORUS
Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

VERSE 3
You are more You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

BRIDGE
My heart will sing
No other Name
Jesus, Jesus

10 Oct

Wednesday Is for Worship: “Forgiven Much”

A blesséd Wednesday to you!  One of the great wonders of history is the fact that God forgives sinners through faith in Jesus Christ.  That’s absolutely amazing!  He doesn’t just forgive believers a little.  He forgives completely!  He forgives much because there is much for which we need forgiveness.  Just think about the depth of your sin and then think of the depth of His forgiveness of your sin through Jesus.  That’ll produce powerful praise out of you!

Today’s song is written with this very thought in mind.  It’s called “Forgiven Much.”  I’m afraid I don’t know much about the song other than it has come out of New Creation Church in Singapore where Joseph Prince is the pastor.  Isn’t it awesome to think of Asian people singing praise to Jesus?!!  My friend and church sister Sharon Paschal introduced the song to me last week, and it’s stuck in my heart since then.  May you rejoice this day in the Lord for the great forgiveness He has bestowed upon you in Jesus Christ!

VERSE 1
Jesus, You are my King, You’re my King
Lamb of God, You’re my sin offering
There is none who would die for my gain
You alone made this selfless exchange

VERSE 2
I declare You’re my God, You’re my God
You’ve removed all my fears, all my doubts
At the cross, there Your will is revealed
Every sickness and pain You have healed

VERSE 3
Lord I call on Your name, on Your name
You’ve removed all my sins, all my shame
By Your grace, in Your arms I am found
Dearly loved and with goodness I’m crowned

PRECHORUS
For Your love will never fail
Your love will never fail

CHORUS
Now and evermore I say, You are my righteousness
My life is in Your hands, in Your hands
Now and evermore I say, I am forgiven much
Your mercy knows no end, knows no end (it knows no end)

____________________

I couldn’t find the chord sheet on the internet.  So, I worked it up.  You can download it here to introduce it to your church.

03 Oct

Wednesday Is for Worship: “I Will Sing of My Redeemer (You Set Me Free)”

When I was leading worship, one of my favorite things to do was to find songs that bridged the generations, songs that were a combination of new and old, contemporary and traditional.  That effort has been made easier over the last seven or eight years as there has been a substantial movement in worship music to add some fresh flavor to old hymns.  One such song is “I Will Sing of My Redeemer.”

The original lyrics to this song were penned in 1876 by Philip P. Bliss.  This is per­haps the last hymn Bliss wrote be­fore he died in a train wreck that year. He sur­vived the in­i­tial crash but was killed try­ing un­suc­cess­ful­ly to res­cue his wife. The lyr­ics were found in his be­long­ings af­ter the ac­ci­dent.  The following year, James McGranahan set the lyrics to melody.

It’s a wonderfully Christ-centered song with a beautiful melody that the church has been blessed to sing for well over a century.  That’s probably what inspired Travis Cottrell and Beth Moore to pick up this song and update it with a second chorus called “You Set Me Free.” Cottrell included this song on his 2009 album “Jesus Saves Live.”

May this Wednesday be a worshipful one as you join along with Travis in singing to your Redeemer!

(Unfortunately, I’m having trouble embedding the video.  So, click here to sing along with Travis.)

VERSE 1
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

VERSE 2
I will tell the wondrous story
how my lost estate to save
in His boundless love and mercy
He the ransom freely gave

VERSE 3
I will praise my dear Redeemer
His triumphant power I’ll tell
How the victory He giveth
Over sin and death and hell

CHORUS 1
Sing, O sing of my Redeemer
With His blood He purchased me
On the cross He sealed my pardon
Paid the debt, and made me free

CHORUS 2
You set me free, my ransomed soul free
The darkness is over, beholding, I see
A living Redeemer, love healing me
Forever forgiven, this love song I bring
You set me free