A few weeks ago I wrote a song called “O God of Perfect Holiness”, and wanted to share the free chord chart, lead sheet/choir parts, and video below.
The song was written for one of our services where I wanted something that focused us upward on God’s attributes of holiness, faithfulness, righteousness, gentleness, tenderness, and loveliness, in contrast to our sinfulness. It’s a simple four-verse modern hymn.
The lyrics are:
O God of perfect holiness
Seated high above
What ocean-depths of faithfulness
And sacrificial love
That all of our iniquities
Were placed on Jesus’ head
So we, who once were enemies
Are now his heirs instead
Oh God of perfect righteousness
True in all your ways
What kindness in your promises
What all sufficient grace
That you would send your Son
To live and die upon the cross
That through his victory he would give
That victory to us
O God of perfect tenderness
Who welcomes sinners home
What Father-hearted gentleness
In Jesus you have shown
And we will spend eternity
With angels and the saints
Who day and night forever sing
His never-ceasing praise
Oh God of perfect loveliness
Who made us from the dust
Who saved us from our wretchedness
In you we place our trust
And now to him who sits upon
The throne and to the Lamb
Be blessing, honor, glory, power
I’ve always loved the text to the old hymn “He Giveth More Grace” by Annie Johnson Flint, and the story behind it too. Annie endured incredible physical suffering throughout her life, and clung to God’s inexhaustible grace through it all. This hymn is a profound acknowledgement of the heaviness and burdens of this life – and a wonderful proclamation of the great power of God, and His generous grace in Jesus Christ that are available to us.
I wrote a new melody for this hymn a few years ago, and since then I’ve been amazed at how these lyrics have blessed people who have heard and/or sung it.
Below you’ll find a video of me singing the song, along with links to a free chord chart, and lead sheets as well. I hope this song is a blessing to you!
Several weeks ago, I saw that our September sermon series was going to focus on the generosity of God. As I was thinking what song of response would work one Sunday, the closing words of an old hymn came to my mind: “for out of his infinite riches in Jesus / He giveth, and giveth and giveth again”. I looked up the hymn, entitled “He Giveth More Grace” and was struck by the text:
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace
When we have exhausted our store of endurance
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision
Our God ever yearns His resources to share
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure
His power no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again
This hymn was written by Annie Johnson Flint. She was orphaned by the age of 6, and became so crippled by arthritis that she couldn’t walk. Her arthritis prevented her from becoming a pianist like she had hoped, so she became a poet, and when she couldn’t open her hands to type, she would use her knuckles on the typewriter. An amazing story.
What I love about this hymn is the way it presents God’s generous grace. It can never be exhausted. It can never even begin to be exhausted. It is utterly and completely boundless. This is the kind of good news our congregations need to hear. This is like water in a barren desert.
I didn’t know the original tune for this hymn, so I took that as an opportunity to write a simple melody and arrangement. We sang it this past Sunday at my church and judging from all the questions and emails I got about it, it struck a nerve with people and was a blessing.
I’m sharing the rough demo with you, as well as a chord chart, since my guess is that if your congregation doesn’t know this hymn, they might be affected by the truth it proclaims just like mine was.
Having 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.
A few Sundays ago, June 17th, at our 11:00am service I got the sense that as we were singing familiar songs we were at risk of, yet again, doing what congregations can so often do, and that’s rush through, hurry along, and miss opportunities for heart-felt engagement with the living God.
We had a choir of men from our congregation that morning since it was Father’s day. I had chosen several familiar songs since we didn’t have much time to rehearse. But as we got to the end of “Shout to the Lord” I had a strong impression that God wanted us to put the brakes on, to come to a halt, to slow down, and to simply rest.
As a worship leader you can’t always bring things to a place of rest when you want to. We often want more time than we get, and we have to honor the Lord by honoring our pastor and keep things in the confines he’s given us. And we also have to be conscious of the fact that just because we’re a little frustrated with a disengaged congregation it doesn’t mean we should say so!
But on this particular Sunday I felt strongly enough about it to discern it was the Holy Spirit’s leading, so instead of rushing on to the next song, I sang a simple, spontaneous, song of trust in God. Several people mentioned after the service that it was helpful, so for them and for you, I’m posting it below.
So we run to you, O Lord
We hide ourselves in You
We come to you, O Lord
We trust in You
We cast our burdens at your feet
We lay our worries in your hands
We bring our lives to you, our Lord
We give our hearts to you, our King
You are our shelter, You are our help
You are our comfort and our defender
You are our Savior, You are our shield
And you never fail, You never fail
Time after time, day after day
Morning after morning your mercies are new
Lord, we love You. God, we trust You
You are our shelter and our comfort
And our shield
You’ll notice pretty quickly that these aren’t the most impressive words in the world. They didn’t need to be. They served a simple purpose that morning which was to help people settle in to a place of trust in God, instead of rushing through the songs and getting on to whatever was next.
Be sensitive, as you lead worship, to the moments when God wants you to put the brakes on. It’s in those moments that you might end up taking risks — some of which might not work at all — and God reveals himself afresh.
This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is based off of the Latin word “adventus” and literally means “coming”. We are expectantly awaiting the celebration of Jesus’ coming on Christmas, and we’re expectantly awaiting his coming in glory. It’s a very cool season and provides congregations several weeks to express our cries of “how long”? Not only “how long until we can finally sing Christmas carols and open presents?” but “how long until you finally come back, Jesus?”
Two years ago I wrote some posts on songs that work well in Advent.
The first post had to do with “what to do with Advent” and some good hymns to sing. The second post had suggestions of newer, more contemporary songs that work congregationally. The third post had a couple of songs that worked as special/not congregational songs.
Here are some other songs I’ve become aware of that might work during Advent.
Soon (Brooke Ligertwood)
– Slow, tender song about when we will finally see Jesus
– Either a congregational song or a solo, but probably better as a solo
– “Soon and very soon, my King is coming, clothed in righteousness and crowned with love…”
– You can listen to the whole song, read the lyrics, and download the music here
All to Us (Redman/Maher/Reeves/Tomlin)
– Slow/midtempo song
– Either as a congregational song or a solo
– The recorded key of C is too high. I find A to be better
– “We are waiting on you, Jesus”. “When this passing world is over, we will see You face to face…”
– You can listen to the whole song, read the lyrics, and download the sheet music for free here
We Belong to the Day (Mike Morrow)
– Midtempo song
– Either as a congregational song or a solo
– “We belong to the day, to the day that is to come when the night falls away and our Savior will return…”
– Bob Kauflin featured this song on Worship Matters in June and linked to free downloads of the recording and the music
How Long? (The Reckoning) (Andrew Peterson)
– An upbeat song of lament/longing for Jesus to return
– From his excellent CD, “Counting Stars”
– Would work as a special (not congregational) song
– “How long until this curtain is lifted? How long is this the song that we sing? How long until the reckoning?”
– Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition featured this song last year. Click here to listen to the song and read the lyrics.
God With Us (Jamie Brown)
– Slow song
– OK, I wasn’t going to share this song because (a) the recording is awful and (b) I don’t want to push my own stuff. But, hey it’s free, you don’t have to like it, and it it’s helpful, then great
– The verses describe different people and situations that look hopeless, but actually “God with us”, Jesus, is right there in the middle
– Would work as a special (not congregational) song
– A female vocalists should sing the response part in the chorus. But again, this recording is so bad, from several years ago, that I tried to take care of both parts
– The lyrics are below the audio player
In the long, cold winter of waiting,
Every day a new door is closed
No job for so long and no money
Every letter, every call, a new “no”
God with us
She has cried, she has prayed for a husband
Still she lies in her bed all alone
Every Christmas, every birthday, every morning
Every baby – another one that’s not her own
God with us
Surely he has borne our griefs (God with us)
He has carried all our sorrows (God with us)
His chastisement brought us peace (God with us)
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
God with us
He has lost his ability to fight it}
It has stained every corner of his mind
He is drowning in the darkness in private
Every click – a step back from his bride
God with us (chorus)
The baby in her womb is not her husband’s
They have fled from their home to hide
But she believes what the angel told her
That she would bear the Son of the Most High: God with us
Surely he will bear our griefs (God with us)
He will carry all our sorrows (God with us)
His chastisement will bring us peace (God with us)
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow
God with us
A few Saturday evenings ago as I was thinking about the songs I’d be leading the next morning, I began to get a strong sense that God wanted me to share a song of encouragement after “Everlasting God” for people who have been waiting for an answer from him for a very long time. Sometimes this kind of nudge happens in the moment, and so I attempt to convey a prophetic impression of God’s heart on-the-spot. This time, I was grateful that the Holy Spirit was giving me advance notice, and so I jotted down some quick lyrics and had them on my music stand the next morning in case it felt right.
When we ended “Everlasting God” I took a moment to discern how I felt the Holy Spirit leading me, and I went ahead and sang this song. The tune and music were just simple and improvised.
I’ve included a recording and the lyrics below. I hope and pray that these words might be an encouragement to you too.
I am the God who formed the earth
I am the One who gave you life
I knew you long before your birth
And I have never left your side
I know your doubts, I know your fears
I know you’re weary from all the years
You’ve waited for an answer
You’ve prayed with all your heart
You’ve wondered if I hear you
You’ve stared into the dark
I am the everlasting God
I am your Father
I’ve redeemed you through my son
He bore your burden
He knew your pain
He intercedes for you
He prays for you by name
And I will do what’s best for you, my love
I will work my perfect will, and I will lift you up
I am always faithful and I am always good
You don’t always see it but it is always true
Don’t listen to the lies the Devil says
He is the accuser and I have conquered him
You are my beloved and I am in control
You can’t always see it but I am on the throne
One day you will see that I have worked
All things for my glory and all things for your good
One day you will see me as I am
Your Everlasting Father, and your never failing friend
And I know you don’t always understand
But I give you a promise: your Father has a plan
Jesus gives you access. The Spirit gives you strength
I love you and I’m with you and will hold you while you wait