Praise My Soul the King of Heaven

1Having grown up in the Episcopal/Anglican church, one of the hymns I grew up learning to sing and love was “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”. The first time you hear it the melody is a bit tricky. But it’s good. And the lyrics are full of powerful descriptions of the kingship and worth-ship of Jesus. But I never had much success putting the hymn in a more contemporary format.

One night in 2009 I was watching the consecration of Bob Duncan as the first Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and during the incredibly long procession of clergy and bishops, the orchestra and choir led the congregation in a powerful arrangement of the hymn. It turns out that John Wasson, a worship leader/musician in Texas had written the arrangement just for that occasion.

You can watch the really long procession and hear John’s full arrangement on this rough YouTube video:

It wasn’t long until I was trying to rip off John’s arrangement to use this hymn at my church. I experimented (with varying levels of success), but the result was that I had found a way to bring this amazing hymn into a contemporary context. The other small change I made was to close the song by going back and singing the last line of first verse after singing the final verse. It ends better that way.

When my congregation received word that we’d have to vacate our property of over-275 years, and I started exploring the prospect of recording a live CD in our Sanctuary before we lost it, I knew we’d have to put this hymn on it and try to capture a bit of the arrangement John had written in 2009. But… it couldn’t be as incredibly long.

So I sat at my kitchen island one night, about 6 days before we’d start recording the CD, watching the video of the song from Bishop Duncan’s installation, hearing Carl Albrecht‘s drumming in my head (since I’ve been listening to his drumming since I was a kid and he had kindly agreed to play drums for this project), Russell Crain’s electric guitar genius (since I had come to admire his playing when my Father-in-law began pastoring a church that neighbors his), and Simon Dixon’s organ prowess (since he and I have the privilege of working together).

I wrote a rough arrangement of it and recorded this really (really) rough demo. Oh, I was recovering from the flu, I just remembered:

Like I said, it’s rough. So when we began rehearsals for the CD, Carl suggested we cut the intro by half. Great idea. Then Russell began experimenting with different things he could do on the intro. On the first night we recorded, here’s what the intro sounded like:

Russell thought he could do his part better, so on the second night, he changed some things.

The result of all of this thinking/arranging/demo-ing/rehearsing/tinkering is on my church’s live CD. Here’s the final full-song result in its mixed and mastered form.

If you’d like to download it for free: click here.

Here’s the chord chart we used for the recording. If you want a more simple chord chart (without the crazy chords on verse 4 that we put in to work with the choir descant, click here).

Here’s my church singing the more simplified version of this hymn in our last service ever in our building. The picture at the top of this post is from that night too.

Another Free Song: God of All Power and Grace

One of the songs on my church’s new live worship CD that I wrote is called “God of All Power and Grace”. I wanted to share the story behind the song, the lyrics, and then a free recording and chord chart.

I wrote the bulk of this song several years ago in my church’s former main sanctuary. I had been on staff at that point for a couple of years and had been witnessing God making our worship more and more free on Sunday mornings. I was trying to find a song that helped articulate what we were experiencing in corporate worship, since this kind of freedom was new to a lot of people. We weren’t just singing words off a page or off a screen. We were actually encountering the glory of God together and experiencing his manifest presence  as we sang to him.

So I ended up writing this song to help us express three things: (1) praise to God, (2) reasons why we praise God, and (3) what happens when we praise God. God is the God of all power, but also the God of grace who calls us to himself and helps us to praise him. The lyrics evolved a bit over the years and we finally settled on these for the CD:

Verse 1: God draws near to us when we praise him

God of all power and grace
Be enthroned in the midst of our praise
As we lift or voice to bless You
God who inhabits our praise
We welcome You in this place
As we lift our song before You

Chorus: We gather to magnify the name of Jesus – and as we do that, God frees us even more

We lift You up, we glorify
You who are worthy, You who are mighty to save
Be lifted up, be glorified
Here in Your presence, You free us to offer You praise
God of all power and grace

Verse 2: Jesus is worthy of worship because he saved us and bought us with his blood

God of all power and grace
We who were lost have been saved
So we lift our voice to bless You
God, our Redeemer and Friend
We know mercy and love without end
So we lift our song before You

Verse 3Our worship here on earth is a foretaste of worship for all eternity

God of all power and grace
When we look upon Your holy face
We will lift our voice to bless You
God who all heaven adores
We will worship You forevermore
When we lift our song before You

You can purchase the whole live CD here.

You can download a free mp3 of this song here: God Of All Power And Grace MP3

You can download a free chord chart of the song here: God of All Power and Grace CHORD CHART

Another Free Song: Here is Love (Grace Takes My Sin)

I’ve always loved the hymn “Here is Love Vast as the Ocean“. It’s a beautiful melody, but most importantly, it’s a beautiful description of God’s great love for us in Jesus Christ.

The first two verses, written by William Rees, are probably familiar to you:

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

The third verse is less familiar, and the fourth even less familiar than that. They were written later by William Williams.

We’ve used this song at my church for years. Either just the first two verses during our communion liturgy, or for a while we used Matt Redman’s adaptation. That version had the chorus added: “No love is higher, no love is wider, no love is deeper…”. Great version, which also added the third verse, but the chorus never really seemed to catch on very well with my congregation.

So I was really pleased to come across Kate Simmonds’ version a year or so ago. You might recognize Kate’s name as she used to lead worship at the Church of Christ the King in Brighton, England, along with Stuart Townend, Lou Fellingham and others. Kate’s version put the song into a 4/4 time signature, incorporated the third verse with more modernized language (and a different chord progression), and added a fantastic chorus.

Here are the lyrics to the chorus she added:

Grace takes my sin, calls me “friend”
Pays my debt completely
Love rescued me, seated me
With my King forevermore

I love that! So good. This really caught on with my congregation, and we recorded it on my church’s recent CD. By the way, you really should purchase the whole CD.

Kate has very kindly agreed to let me offer the mp3 and chord chart for free here.

So here is the mp3: Here Is Love (Grace Takes My Sin) MP3

And here is the chord chart: Here Is Love (Grace Takes My Sin) CHORD CHART

The vocalist on this recording is the amazing Jordan Ware. Jordan is the worship leader at Winchester Anglican Church in Winchester, Virginia. She’s a gifted worship leader and musician and it was a joy to have her sing on this project!

Free Song: More Than Conquerors

Earlier this year as my church was receiving word that we would need to leave our property, then actually leaving that property, and then transitioning into being a “portable” church, we were also studying the book of Romans in our Sunday morning sermons.

You would have thought our pastor had known we’d be losing our building when we decided to preach through the first eight chapters of Romans. But that wasn’t the case. As always, in God’s perfect timing, he had led us to study just what we needed for that season in our life together.

It was during this season that my church recorded its first live worship CD. One of the songs on the CD that I wrote is called “More Than Conquerors” and was written for my church and based on the amazing truths in Romans 8.

The chorus, based on Romans 8:28 and 8:37 says:

We are more than conquerors
Through Him who loves us
Nothing can keep us from His love
We are more than conquerors
Through Him who saved us
All things will work together for good
‘Cause He is good

Verse one is based on Romans 8:18-25 and says:

These present sufferings – they are nothing
Compared to all that is to come
So we are waiting and celebrating
Our hopes is in a sovereign God

Verse two is taken from Romans 8:1-3 and 8:35 and says:

What can condemn us or separate us?
Jesus has bought us with His blood
Through tribulation and persecution
Our freedom song is growing louder and louder

And finally, the bridge is almost word-for-word Romans 8:38-39:

Not death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers
The present, the future, nor any powers
No height, no depth, nor all of creation
Can keep us from Your love

It didn’t seem right for this kind of song to be slow. So it’s upbeat and celebrative. This is good news for us to declare as God’s people – especially when we lose a massive court case!

You can download the free mp3 here: More Than Conquerors MP3

And here’s the free chord chart: More Than Conquerors CHORD CHART

You can purchase the whole album at

Here’s the lyrics video:

Free Song: Come You Sinners

My church is releasing its very first live worship CD this Sunday, “A Thousand Amens: Live Worship with The Falls Church Anglican“.

I wanted to share one of the songs I wrote that’s on the album called “Come You Sinners”. I posted a rough version of it on here about a year ago but this is the album version which is a bit (!) better quality.

I wrote this song one week when I was choosing songs for a communion service and wishing there was something I could sing over people as they walked forward to the Lord’s table. Having just taken a seminary class on grace taught by Steve Brown, I was freshly amazed at how scandalous God’s grace is, and how amazingly freeing it is, and I wanted to be able sing this good news over them.

The verses came fairly quickly. I used a couple of lines from an old hymn (“Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy”) to start off a couple of verses and went from there. The chorus took a while to nail down, until late one night while sitting at the piano, I remembered the line from Augustine’s Confessions that “…our hearts are restless until we find our rest in You…”. The melody fit the lyric and then the song was complete.

Here are the lyrics:

Come, you sinners, poor and needy
Come behold your Savior’s face
Full of love and rich in mercy
Hands outstretched with endless grace

Nothing you have done has earned it
Full atonement, vast and free
Nothing you can do can change it
Rest on Jesus’ victory

Our hearts are restless till we find our rest in You
Our lives are hopeless till we find our hope in You
Jesus, You are my life
Jesus, I give my life to You

Come you weary, heavy laden
Burdened under shame and sin
There is never condemnation
When your life in Christ is hid

There is no one else to turn to
He will guide you all your days
His perfect love is perfect for you
Trust in Jesus’ saving grace

Jamie Brown © 2011 Worthily Magnify Music. All rights reserved. Used by permission. CCLI song # 6026956.

You can download the album version mp3 here: Come You Sinners recording

And here’s a free chord chart: Come You Sinners chord chart

UPDATE: Here’s the sheet music: Come You Sinners sheet music

And here’s a lyrics video: