I always find it helpful to hear what other churches are singing, what new songs worship leaders are introducing, and how worship leaders pick songs to match the theme of a service or sermon. So, from time to time on this blog, I’ll walk you through what songs we sang on a Sunday morning at my church, and why I picked them.
The sermon text of the morning was Hebrews 12:3-17, and the sermon title was “Learning From Discipline”. Based on this I attempted to choose songs that highlighted God’s faithfulness, his restoration, and the cross.
We started off the service with “Praise is Rising” by Paul Baloche and Brenton Brown, a song that cries “Hosanna! You are the God who saves us…” and proclaims the good news that: “in Your kingdom broken lives are made new. You make us new”. We sang that verse a couple of times in order to emphasize that truth. This song can be overdone – especially as an opening song – but it seemed to work this particular week.
After the welcome by one of our pastors we sang four songs. First, “Here is Love Vast as the Ocean” written by William Reese in 1850 and adapted by Matt Redman a few years ago with a new chorus. This focused us the cross of Christ and his ”grace and love like mighty rivers”. We sang the third verse that was written in 1900 that says “thou alone shall be my glory, nothing in this world I see. Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me. Thou thyself hast set me free”.
In response to this we sang “A Thousand Amens” by Tim Timmons which is the old text of the Doxology set to new music, along with a new chorus based off of Psalm 92:2 “unfailing love comes with the morning. It’s your faithfulness we sing at night” and Romans 2:4 “it’s your kindness, Lord, that leads to repentance.” (Note that the original version says “…leads to our healing”. I change it to match the scripture reference.) After this we sang “How Great is our God”.
We closed this opening time with a song called “To Him Who is Able”, written by Lou and Nathan Fellingham and Gary Sadler. This is a rich song focusing our attention on Jesus. The second verse says “to him who is able to save me completely, who has poured out his blood as the offering for sin, and raised me to life by the power of the Spirit, and sealed me for heaven to reign there with him…” before leading into the chorus which says “to him be the glory, blessing and honor and praise. All saints now adore him. Worship the glorious name of Jesus our King”.
Following the readings, creed, prayers, and announcements, we sang a song by Matt Redman called “This is How We Know”. Since this was directly before the sermon, I thought it would be helpful (as always) to focus on God’s love for us as displayed in the cross. The chorus says, “For you so loved the world that you gave your only Son, love amazing, so divine, we will love you in return. For this life that you give and this death that you have died, love amazing, so divine, we will love you in reply, Lord”.
Robert then preached on the text from Hebrews, and we responded with the song “O Great God” by Bob Kauflin, the text of which is based on a Puritan prayer found in the book Valley of Vision. The song talks about God disciplining us by occupying “our lowly heart” and conquering “every rebel power”. The last verse is a powerful prayer: “help me now to live a life that’s dependent on your grace, keep my heart and guard my soul from the evils that I face. You are worthy to be praised with my every thought and deed. O great God of highest heaven, glorify your name through me”.