Psalm 96 by Joseph Stigora

Joseph Stigora’s setting of Psalm 96 gets a bad rap. Sure, he started it off in the key of F# at the Worship God conference in 2008 only to have the band join in the key of G, prompting this hilarious and often-viewed YouTube video, but you’d never know anything else about how the song goes or how the verses sound unless you were at the conference.

And then last week I added to the abuse of Joseph’s song by writing a little post about how, when I used it at my church to start off the service, the people in the congregation who came in late and missed the instructions to not sing the verses ended up standing around confused.

It’s actually a great contemporary setting of the Psalm. The chorus is singable and catchy, the verses are great for a vocalist to sing on his/her own, and the melody/feel complements the text well. All you have to do is make sure you’re all singing/playing in the same key (because you wouldn’t want this to happen! Have you seen that video, by the way?), and your congregation knows what to do on the verses (i.e. not try to sing along).

Joseph has kindly agreed to offer the chord chart as a free download and a rough demo mp3 of the full song (in the same key the whole time!) for you to listen to. Joseph is a gifted and humble guy who’s a worship leader and pastor on staff at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

Chord chart

Two More Ideas for Songs During Advent

On Monday I suggested some Advent hymns, and on Tuesday some more contemporary Advent songs that you might find helpful to include in your services during this season of preparation for Jesus’ coming.

Here are a couple more resources/song ideas. Most of these probably work better as special pieces, not necessarily sung congregationally.

1. Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God”
In 2000, Andrew Peterson released “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ”, a CD that masterfully tells the story of salvation in twelve songs. The first five songs deal with themes such as the Passover (“Passover Us”), Israel’s longing for a King (“So Long Moses”), and their need for deliverance (“Deliver Us”). A fantastic instrumental version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” comes right before “Matthew’s Begats”, the genealogy of Jesus Christ set to a bluegrass tune. It works. Really.

I can’t say enough good things about this album. It’s full of rich, biblical truth, and tells this familiar story in a fresh way. I only have one small quibble with a phrase he uses on the first song, “Gather Round Ye Children”, where he says Jesus “gave up his pride and came here to die like a man”. Andrew is trying to convey the amazing truth that Jesus became like us, stepped down from Heaven, and died on the cross in our place. But that phrase could be seen as implying that by giving up “his pride” Jesus was prideful, and the wording of Jesus coming to “die like a man” might be a bit confusing.

All in all, though, a fantastic CD and a good resource for some special songs to sing during Advent. And the rest of the year too.

– To listen to the CD and read the lyrics click here
– To purchase and/or download the newly re-mastered CD and a live recording, click here
iTunes download

2. “How Long?” Stuart Townend
I have yet to come across a modern song that helps articulate our longing for Jesus to return as well as this song does.

Verse two says:

“Lord, we know your heart is broken by the evil that you see, and you’ve stayed your hand of judgment for your plan to set men free. But the land is still in darkness and we’ve fled from what is right. We have failed the silent children who will never see the light”.

The chorus says:

“How long before you drench the barren land? …before we see your righteous hand? …before your name is lifted high? …before the weeping turns to songs of joy?”

The last verse declares:

“I know a day is coming when the deaf will hear his voice, when the blind will see their Savior and the lame will leap for joy, when the widow finds a husband who will always love his bride, when the orphan finds a Father who will never leave her side.”

Then the last chorus:

“How long before your glory lights the skies? …before your radiance lifts our eyes? …before your fragrance fills the air? …before the earth resounds with songs of joy?”

It’s certainly biblical to sing songs of lament and longing to the Lord. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to find a good occasion to include these kinds of songs. Advent provides a good opportunity.

Sheet music/lyrics
iTunes download

Song Recommendation: Creation Sings the Father’s Song

I’m a huge fan of Stuart Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty’s music. Their songs are consistently congregational, musically rich, and doctrinally sound. I came across their song “Creation Sings the Father’s Song” a few months ago and was struck by what a great song it is in a number of ways.

Musically, it’s different and creative. It takes you a minute to get used to the time signature in the verses – and I like that. It’s good for the musicians and the congregation to be stretched and not follow the same patterns. Melodically, it’s easy to sing and memorable, but not predictable. Lyrically, it says things in a new way and allows biblical truth to get planted in your heart as you sing. Somehow the song is able to weave together the story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation in three verses with a powerful chorus of “hallelujah”. Great song.

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music

Creation sings the Father’s song; He calls the sun to wake the dawn
And run the course of day ‘till evening falls in crimson rays.
His fingerprints in flakes of snow, His breath upon this spinning globe,
He charts the eagle’s flight; commands the newborn baby’s cry.

Hallelujah! Let all creation stand and sing,
“Hallelujah!” Fill the earth with songs of worship;
Tell the wonders of creation’s King.

Creation gazed upon His face; the ageless One in time’s embrace
Unveiled the Father’s plan of reconciling God and man.
A second Adam walked the earth, whose blameless life would break the curse,
Whose death would set us free to live with Him eternally.

Creation longs for His return, when Christ shall reign upon the earth;
The bitter wars that rage are birth pains of a coming age.
When He renews the land and sky, all heav’n will sing and earth reply
With one resplendent theme: the glory of our God and King!

Download the sheet music here. The song is on Stuart Townend’s newest CD of the same name (order a hard copy) (download it on iTunes), and the Getty’s new CD “Awaken the Dawn“. You can also purchase this song by itself on iTunes.