Theological Testing of Worship Songs

Came across this interesting piece at Premier Christianity Magazine ‘Theology test your worship songs‘. That is good advice and we ought to that with any song including hymns. I haven’t read it all yet, but others might be interested in checking it out. I particularly like the graphic to show the Industrial Complex that Christian music has become.

I won’t comment on it here now, but I have saved it for future reference.

Christians Awake Salute the Happy Morn

Worshiping the King of Kings this morning in Coventry

It was with great joy we attended Church this happy morn to celebrate the sending into the world of a Saviour – Christ the Lord.

We were treated to an excellent message appropriate for Christmas morning given by Pastor James and were exhorted through all the busyness of the Christmas season to make sure there is room for Jesus. He made comparisons between the pomp and greatness of Herod and a mighty Roman Empire and the silent almost imperceptible coming of the King of Kings. And although it seemed like Mary & Joseph and the birth of Jesus was at the behest of the rulers of the day – the reality is completely the opposite. We as Christians can take great encouragement that although events today may seem to militate against a sovereign God – again nothing could be further from the truth.

Two scriptures that illustrate this is Luke 17:20 ‘And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he (Jesus) answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:’

And Hebrews 2:8 ‘putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him (Jesus). Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

We opened the service with the singing of ‘Christians Awake‘.

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son

Then to the watchful shepherds it was told
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Saviour’s birth
To you and all the nations upon earth
This day hath God fulfilled His promised word;
This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord.”

He spake, and straightaway the celestial choir
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire
The praises of redeeming love they sang
And heaven’s whole orb with alleluias rang
God’s highest glory was their anthem still
Peace upon earth and unto men goodwill

To Bethlehem straight the shepherds ran
To see the wonder God had wrought for man
And found, with Joseph and the blessed Maid
Her Son, the Saviour, in a manger laid
Amazed, the wondrous story they proclaim
The earliest heralds of the Saviour’s name

Let us, like these good shepherds, them employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy
Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss
From His poor manger to His bitter cross
Treading His steps, assisted by His grace
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place

Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all His glory shall display
Saved by His love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels and of angel-men the King

John Byrom 1691-1763

Wonderful words to praise Jesus.

Happy Christmas to you All.

Hark! the herald angels sing

Here’s one of THE great Christmas Hymns – ‘Hark! the herald angels sing’ and so should we!. Or if you prefer one of THE great Incarnational Hymns by Charles Wesley (18 December 1707 – 29 March 1788). I’ve included below each stanza the verses from the Bible so we can see just how full of Scripture and theology this Hymn is. It’s no wonder they are great teaching aids. I’m using the King James version of the Bible for its poetic beauty. The actual text of the hymn has many variations so I apologise if the one below is a little different from the particular version you are most familiar with. As we sing this Hymn I trust we will not just admire the skill of the composer, or be lost in familiarity, but be amazed at the incredible condescension of the Lord of Glory as He comes to redeem lost sinners. Late in time behold Him come!

1 Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King:
Peace on earth, and mercy mild;
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Stanza. 1 = Luke 2:14, 2 Cor. 5:19

Luke 2:14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

2 Corinthians 5:19 ‘To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’

2 Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Stanza. 2 = Gal. 4:4, John 1:14

Galatians 4:4 ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,’

John 1:14  ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’

3 Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Stanza. 3 = Isa. 9:6, Mal. 4:2, Phil. 2:7-8, 1 Pet. 1:3

Isaiah 9:6 ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’

Malachi 4:2 ‘But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.’

Philippians 2:7 ‘But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:’
Philippians 2:8 ‘And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’

1 Peter 1:3 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,’

(Thanks to the web-site for information on the hymn. Specifically HERE.)

Is The Bible Relevant?

Last Sunday (14/08/2011) we were privileged to hear preaching of the highest order. In fact, as I’ve been thinking about the sermon over the week, the more convinced I am that this particular sermon would act as a model for up and coming ministers, including those studying at seminary. Not only that, but it would also be of benefit to more experienced ministers. Yes, it was that good. Let’s just say I do not want to elevate the man as it was evident the sermon was blessed of God and Pastor being the man he is would merely point away from himself and to the blessing of God upon it.

The Text of the sermon was Genesis 3:9 ‘But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”‘. The particular words Pastor concentrated on were the words directed to Adam ‘where are you’.

The ministry was relevant and contemporary but above all Biblical, exemplifying what it is to expound the text. This sermon is Gospel ministry at it’s best and what people today within and outside the church need to hear. Culturally the sermon is set in the context of recent Riots and looting in the UK.

To listen click on the link below. Or go to the Lower Ford Street Baptist Church Web-site.

Magma – Concert clip

Here’s a band I was listening to 30+ years ago and it’s amazing to see them still going. Christian Vander is Magma, the founding member and one of the great drummers. I never did see this band live, but if they were playing in the UK I would still like to see them play live. The clip is – I think – from a 2006 concert. And, they are still playing. There are some great clips to see and hear from last year.

Frank Zappa – Genius

Cover of "Electric Don Quixote: The Defin...
Cover via Amazon

I’m about 3/4 through ‘Electric Don Quixote’ a biographic journey through the music of Frank Zappa. It, or some other book about FZ has been something I’ve wanted to read for some time.

This may not be the book I thought it would be, but it was the only book on Zappa the library had. This is more of an extended discography rather than a biography. I was really looking forward to understanding the mind of Zappa and more of what shaped his thinking. Clearly from this book we understand the frustrations he encountered as a teenager and the prolonged bitterness (seemingly) towards authority, but I would have liked to explore this a bit more. This goes for the rest of his life as well. However, the interviews / quotations concerning his work rate and phenomenal output are fascinating. He was clearly not an easy person to work with and not one to suffer fools gladly.

I’ve read up to the release of Sheik Yerbouti and I think it must have been around this time that I managed to see him live at the Birmingham Odeon. As far as memory serves the audience wasn’t giving the reaction he wanted and so he cut the set short and left the stage. It wasn’t part of the act as he never came on again. I can understand this a little from the book – he hated the UK.

So far we know next to nothing of his home or family life. We know he’s a businessman and a self publicist but again there’s not an awful lot of objective biography. We know he hated Warner Bros but without the other side of the argument (as in most of the book so far) it’s difficult to arrive at a judgement. Was he a sexual pervert or was he merely letting people see themselves.   I’d like to think he matured out of an obsession with sex and moved into social commentary. Unlike – it seems – many of the other rock musicians (as far as I can tell) he was totally against drugs – preferring to put it in his ears. After spending a whole load of his own money on a project he is quoted as saying ‘Well, some rock and roll musicians make a bunch of money and stick it up their noses. I stick mine in my ear.’ p.215. He was truly obsessive and totally driven by music and an all-consuming energy to create.

From various interviews on the web (you tube etc) we discover – unsurprisingly – that he was very anti Christianity and again I would have liked to explore the reasons for this. I suspect he came up against Christian Fundamentalism that was more interested in wearing the right tie than a true understanding of the Gospel of the Grace of God. The more he was criticised the more he pushed back with even more extreme behaviour. In Gospel terms his was the reaction of sinful man but still, Fundamentalism (the Religious Right) and it’s connection with Reagan didn’t help. It’s often the way of genius, alone and misunderstood.

Readers – if there are any – of this Blog might wonder how a Christian could listen to Frank Zappa. There’s very little I do listen to of his music these days as the lyrics are so unsuitable. In fact when I became a Christian it was at a time of listening to a lot of FZ and it was one of the things I felt had to go. It spite of that though, I can recognise his genius. I thought so years ago, and I still think so now. Just recently on Sky Arts I watched an excerpt of the Zappa plays Zappa tour put together by his son Dweezil. The musicianship is just phenomenal! If the tour comes to the UK again I might even go.

Where is Frank now? Honestly, I do not know and it’s not really for me to say, though I do suspect he has gone to a Christless eternity. Despite his genius – he was like the rest of us – a sinner in need of a Saviour.