Category Archives: Singing

Remember – Praise & Prayer 2019 – Set List

A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together a college-wide prayer and praise night. In the midst of studies and essays and assignments, it was good to set aside an evening to pray, sing, read scripture, and enjoy God’s presence among His gathered people.

The theme of this year’s worship night was “Remember”. We split the night into two halves – in the first hour, we took time to remember God’s mercy to us in Christ. In the second hour, we shifted focus to remember God’s mission for the nations to know Christ.

I really enjoyed worshipping together during the first hour, which was led so well by Ellen, James, Chris and Kristy from the ReachOut 2019 band. It was a treat to move from praise to prayer so seamlessly and freely throughout the first half. We were served by contributions from students and lecturers as each helped us to remember and reflect on different aspects of God’s mercy to us in Jesus.

I led the Badminton Road band for the second hour – our first and last live performance together! A personal highlight was guitaring alongside Rob Smith and Jack Batchen, two incredibly gifted electric guitarists! Thanks to Jeremiah Liew, a friend of ours, we managed to capture some of the night on video as well.

If you’re interested, here’s the setlist from the night, including a Spotify playlist Ellen put together, and some video from the 2nd half.

Part 1 – Remember God’s mercy in Christ

  1. Welcome & Prayer: an invitation to prefer one another and “let all things be done for building up”
  2. Read Psalm 103
  3. Sing: Only A Holy God (CityAlight)
  4. Sing: How Deep the Father’s Love (arr. by The Dispatch)
  5. Pray: 1-sentence “popcorn” prayers praising God for His attributes
  6. Sing: Great Are You Lord (All Sons and Daughters)
  7. Pray: Self-directed prayer based on Ephesians 2:1-10
  8. Sing: All I Have Is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music)
  9. Pray: Thanksgiving for mercy in Christ
  10. Sing: Once For All (CityAlight)
  11. Listen: I Stand Amazed (How Wonderful) – Womens’ Vocal Group
  12. Sing: Be Thou My Vision (arr. Ascend the Hill)
  13. Sing: O Praise the Name / What A Beautiful Name mashup
  14. Pray: Close 1st Hour
Spotify Playlist of the songs we sang during Praise & Prayer 2019.

Part 2 – Remember God’s mission for Christ

  1. Sing: Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me (CityAlight)
  2. Welcome Back – recap 1st hour, read Psalm 67
  3. Sing: Behold our God (World Edition) – in multiple languages
  4. Pray: in 3-4’s, pray for unreached peoples on your heart, near or far
  5. Listen: Poem – a lament for the nations
  6. Listen: Remember (Matt Lo)
  7. Sing: You Are the God Who Saves Me (Psalm 88)
  8. Sing: Love, You Will Not Let Me Go
  9. Pray: over those who have given up their identity for Jesus to enter creative access nations
  10. Sing: Christ is Enough
  11. Sing: We Will Declare Your Glory
  12. Sing: Crown Him With Many Crowns

You can also see what we did in 2018 as well here. While I won’t be at college in 2020, I hope there’ll continue to be opportunities for the college community to gather and respond to everything they’ve learned in praise and prayer!

Hebrew Aleph Bet Song and Vowel Song

Cheryl and I have just started learning Hebrew this year at SMBC. To keep things fun we’ve been using a variety of methods. We learned the Hebrew consonants using this song we found online (here’s us singing it):

Then we came to the pointed vowels (they’re similar to pinyin in Chinese, but in dot/dash form). We couldn’t find a memory song that went through all the Hebrew vowels in our Elementary Biblical Hebrew textbook (Athas and Young)… so I played around with the words from Carole Grover’s song and we came up with this:

Sing to the tune of “Arise My Soul Arise.”

LYRICS

A pair of eyes: tsere

A bar below: patakh

A T-shape is qamets

Or called qamets khatuf

Three dots that make a smile: segol

But if three dots swoop down: qibbuts

We’re halfway through the vowel song

A dot beneath: khireq

That dot on top: kholem

Inside a waw: shuruq

Two dots below: shewa

One dot and yod makes khireq-yod

Three dots and yod makes segol-yod

Those are the Hebrew vowels in song

Hope it’s useful to other budding Hebrew learners, young and old!

Reflections on the modern hymn In Christ Alone

(This article was first published in the NZ Baptist Magazine website: http://www.baptistmag.org.nz/discipleship/in-christ-alone/).


When was the last time you remember singing about God’s wrath? If the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” is in your playlist, then it was probably more recently that you realised.

“In Christ Alone” was the first hymn that writers Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty produced together, and to this day, it remains their most well known. Since its release in 2001, “In Christ Alone” has been referred to as “surely the worship song of the century so far.” The song has been covered by scores of artists including Owl City, David Archuleta, and Natalie Grant, and has been translated into several different languages.

 

The hymn takes a linear approach in unfolding the gospel narrative (the life, death, and resurrection of Christ). The first verse introduces Christ as solid ground, a cornerstone that we can find safety and refuge in. In the same way that stonemasons in biblical times relied on the precise placement of a cornerstone to set the foundation for every other stone, Christ promises to be “a cornerstone chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:6) that we can rest every triumph and tragedy upon.

The second verse invites us to gaze at the wonder of the incarnation—the fullness of God in human form—before zooming into the life and death of Jesus. Despised and rejected by the people he came to save, the Messiah willingly poured himself out during the drama of the cross, where gruesome death and sacrificial love satisfied God’s righteous anger that our sins deserve (Romans 3:21-26, Romans 5:9).

The third verse begins with gloom of the tomb, but gives way to unabashed celebration of the risen Christ. The melody climaxes alongside triumphant news: Jesus is alive, victorious over death! We can now have the confidence to claim him as our own! The resurrection proves that sin’s death grip no longer remains: “…for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Powerful stories demand a response. In the final verse, we are invited to sing our reaction to the good news of Jesus. His unmatched power provides assurance that guilt need not plague us, death need not scare us, and hell can never take us: there simply is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). With King Jesus in command of our destiny, we stand with confidence, awaiting the day we finally meet him face-to-face.

Just as a diamond’s brilliance and sparkle depends on the number and placement of its many facets, God’s beauty shines most brightly in light of his many facets. In 2013, one of these aspects came under scrutiny when the American Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song voted to exclude “In Christ Alone” from its hymnal, in light of the words in verse two, which speak about God’s wrath being satisfied. The decision attracted media interest and sparked a firestorm of controversy. There was much wrath about God’s wrath: some criticised the hymn writers for not allowing a change to the lyrics, while others accused the hymn committee of holding an unbiblical view of God.

Talk about God’s wrath brings unsettling images to the minds of 21st century Kiwis. We rightly reject caricatures of God having the uncontrollable anger of Jake “The Muss” from Once Were Warriors, or spewing forth hateful words at protest marches. Yet God’s wrath—revealed in the Bible—means God was willing to confront the cancer of sin hollowing out his beloved image-bearers, and Christ was willing to absorb the consequences of this cancer in our place. Without it, God’s love becomes saccharine and ill-equipped to respond to the horrors of human sin; whether anti-Semitic violence, or our own Samaritan blind spots; whether selfish exploitation of workers, or our own self-absorbed materialism.

That’s why when we sing about the wrath of God, we actually sing about ourselves: sinners in need of the rescue that Jesus willingly offers on the cross. To minimise any one of God’s attributes from our vocabulary is to rob ourselves of the full brilliance of God’s beauty, and to make Christ’s sacrifice less costly.

“In Christ Alone” depicts a God not made in our own image, but as he presents himself in the Biblical story: beyond us yet with us; holy yet gracious; angry yet loving; just yet merciful. And all of it is worth singing about.

 

Five laments your church could sing this week

“What can miserable Christians sing?”

A couple of years ago, pastor and church historian Carl Trueman posed this question in an article. He was reflecting on contemporary worship music and its limited ability to lament. Cries of pain are largely absent from our gathered worship vocabulary, and so in the wake of a terror attack, or terminal cancer, or the loss of a child, we find ourselves mute.

Here’s five songs, written or arranged in the last decade or so, that could help you or your church to cry out in lament.

1. Though You Slay Me (Shane and Shane)

(Lyrics / Sheet Music)

I like this one because it’s raw and honest. For example:

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say you do it all in love
That I might know you in your suffering

The melody is easy to sing along with, and the chorus helps to turn our tears back to trust: “Though you slay me, yet I will trust you…”

2. Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul (Indelible Grace)

(Lyrics and Sheet Music)

This is one of our favourites from the folks at Indelible Grace. Anne Steele’s words give us permission to honestly say to God that sometimes, our hope is fainting, it’s hanging on by a thread. The guys at Capitol Hill Baptist use a different tune, though I prefer this one personally – there’s space to almost “sigh” after each line as we “breathe our sorrows” to the ear of sovereign grace.

3. Darkness – Psalm 88 (Matt Searles)

(LyricsSheet Music)

Matt Searles has been putting out some excellent settings of Psalms, and this is no exception. I like the easy to sing tune, and how it pretty much tracks with each line of Psalm 88.

4. Hide Away in the Love of Jesus (Sovereign Grace Music)

(Lyrics and Sheet Music)

We’ve sung this regularly at Howick Baptist. Each verse talks about a type of person that needs to hide away in the love of Jesus. The first verse in particular helps me put my tired and weak heart into the hands of Jesus:

Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Hide away in the love of Jesus

5. God Moves (William Cowper, arr. Bob Kauflin)

(Lyrics and Sheet Music)

Veteran worship leader and songwriter Bob Kauflin wrote this arrangement in response to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Cowper’s words were written in the midst of terrible depression. The combination of text and tune has been good for our church to sing over the years:

So God we trust in You
O God we trust in You
When tears are great
And comforts few
We hope in mercies ever new
We trust in You

 


I’m really only scratching the surface here, so please feel free to suggest other laments. I’m particularly interested if you know of songs / psalm settings that are bold enough to stay with the singer in darkness (e.g. Psalm 88, which ends with “darkness my closest friend”).

Edify Conference – building the church in word and song – set list

It was a joy over the weekend to serve at the first Edify Conference, hosted at our home church (Howick Baptist). We had a great time opening the Word and considering the importance of what we do when we sing together as the gathered church.

Cheryl and I were in Sydney for Emu Music’s Word in Song Conference last year, and in 2011 got to attend the WorshipGod conference hosted by Bob Kauflin. And after talking about the idea of a music / gathered worship conference on and off for years, it was great to finally have a go at hosting one in NZ ourselves in partnership with Rowan Hilsden and the team at Auckland EV.

It was also neat to meet and get to know Greg Cooper, a songwriter and musician from Sydney who served on the Edify band on Friday night and led several workshops on Saturday. I personally learned a lot from observing and considering how skillfully he played the guitar – in a way that served the band and supported the church singing. I also loved his servant-hearted attitude and easy-going nature.

I enjoyed playing guitar and sing in the Edify bands – once on Friday with a full band, and again on Saturday morning with a stripped-back, acoustic team. It was good to have a go at modelling congregational church music for different contexts.

A few people asked for the songs we sang over the weekend, so here is the set list below:

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST:

 

FRIDAY: CONCERT / EVENING OF WORD AND SONG

SATURDAY: MAIN SESSION 2