Archive | —Choosing Songs

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Should We Sing Songs About God’s Judgments?

Some people had questions about my recent review of Doug O’Donnell’s book, God’s Lyrics, which I want to attempt to address in this post. The basic question has to do with the place of singing about God’s judgments. O’Donnell makes the point that many of the songs in the Old Testament rejoice over God’s just judgments (Ex. 15:1-18; 1Sam. 2:10; 2Sam. 22:44-51, etc.) A related theme has to do with God humbling the proud. Both themes are lacking in the song diet of many churches, yet they’re unquestionably present not only in OT songs, but in the New Testament as well (Lk. 1:51-55; Rev. 18:20; 19:1-5). Are You Kidding Me? We can struggle …

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Review of God’s Lyrics by Douglas Sean O’Donnell

A few weeks ago I finished God’s Lyrics: Rediscovering Worship Through Old Testament Songs. O’Donnell “draws out the historical, exegetical, and theological significance of the songs of Moses, Deborah, Hannah, David, and Habakkuk. He then shows, in the light of the person and work of Jesus Christ, how the lyrics of God’s Word apply to contemporary congregational singing.” (from the back cover) In other words, he’s seeking to answer the question, “What can Old Testament songs teach us about the songs we use for corporate worship today?” His answer? A lot. O’Donnell chose this method for two reasons. First, these songs provide “unique poetic …

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Two Songs for Suffering Saints

Our church is in the middle of a series on 1 Peter and we’ve been talking a lot about suffering. Peter starts off by telling us that we will be grieved by various kind of trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). For the Christian, trials are never purposeless, random, or wasted. God is using them to work out his perfect plans and to conform us to the image of his Son. How do we know this? Because he has promised in his Word that “for those who love God all things …

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When Should a Worship Song Be Retired?

I was talking with a pastor the other day about one of his worship leaders who has a hard time leaving old songs behind (as in “Shine, Jesus, Shine”). Apparently there are a few songs from the 80s that the worship leader still finds quite moving. Unfortunately, the pastor and many young members of the congregation don’t share his enthusiasm. Our conversation led me to think of a few questions that might be asked in this situation: Is it wrong to retire old songs? If they should be retired, how do you know the right time? Do we even need to be singing new songs? What makes a song “old?” Once a song is retired, should we ever bring it …

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What Goes Into Putting a Conference Song List Together for Next2010?

Every time I lead the singing at a conference it’s a learning experience. This year’s NEXT conference was no different. In this post I want to share some of the thinking behind the songs we sang. NEXT is a conference geared towards younger singles and married couples, so the majority of people who attend are probably between 17 and 30. This was the 11th year of the conference and was similar to past years. There were six morning and evening sessions, starting Friday night, with an afternoon session added on Saturday. I co-led with three separate bands: the Na Band (three times), Zelos (twice), and Generation Letter (once). Saturday afternoon …

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Dementia, Miscommunication, and Extraneous Sounds – Another Normal Sunday

This past Sunday I had the privilege (an overused word, yes, but always true) of leading the singing at my home church, Covenant Life. I’ve had requests to post more on what we do on Sundays, so here it is, my rundown of another normal Sunday. We’re in a series called “Living Hope” as we preach through the book of 1 Peter. Two Sundays ago we heard about the prophets who were faithful to prophesy about the grace that was to be ours and “searched and inquired carefully” (1 Pet. 1:10). So this week seemed like a great Sunday to teach the Getty/Townend song, By Faith. The song includes the verse: By faith the prophets saw a day When the longed-for …

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Songs from Together for the Gospel 2010

Here’s a list of the songs we sang at Together for the Gospel this year. You can download the four part arrangement we included in the T4G booklet by clicking on the title. Due to copyright restrictions, we can’t give away songs that aren’t public domain or are owned by someone other than Sovereign Grace Ministries. Tuesday Afternoon Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing And Can it Be There is a Fountain Speak, O Lord Tuesday Evening Before the Throne I Hear the Words of Love In Christ Alone Wednesday Morning How Firm a Foundation I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow My Song is Love Unknown How Deep the Father’s Love Wednesday …

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Can Singing About the Gospel Become Rote?

One of the drums I will never tire of beating is this: All biblical worship is rooted in and made possible by the cross of Christ. In my experience, the contemporary church (and any church, for that matter) is always in danger of neglecting the gospel in its songs. I said it this way in my book, Worship Matters: The gospel is not merely one of many possible themes we can touch on as we come to worship God. It is the central and foundational theme. All our worship originates and is brought into focus at the cross of Jesus Christ. Glorying in Jesus Christ means glorying in his cross. That doesn’t mean looking at some icon or two pieces …

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Longing for His Appearing – and Singing About It

Whatever you believe about the timing of the return of Christ, orthodox Christians all agree on one thing: Jesus is coming back. Scripture tells us that when Jesus finally returns, all wrongs will be made right, the unrighteous will be judged, and those who have trusted in Christ will enter into the immediate presence of God in the new heavens and new earth. God promises that there will be no more sin, no more tears, no more death, and no more pain (2Thess. 2:8; Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21:4). And “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). With those kinds of promises, you’d expect that we’d be thinking …

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Leading Worship and Biblical Counseling

If you lead worship, you may not think of yourself as a biblical counselor. Maybe that should change. Last month I had the joy of leading the singing at the CCEF conference. While I was there David Powlison asked if we could chat about the relationship between singing congregationally and biblical counseling. There are a number of ways those two activities don’t seem connected. We sing with a group, while biblical counseling usually involves 2-4 people. You don’t normally counsel people with music. You just talk about issues. Counseling is interactive, while in corporate worship the communication is generally from the leader to the congregation. But …

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Why So Many Words in Worship?

Over at the Gospel Coalition blog Kevin DeYoung gives 25 reasons why words are so important in our corporate worship. Here are some samples: All the corporate worship we know of in the early church is saturated with words. While there are many things we don’t know about the worship of the early church in the Bible, we do know that they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). We know they were devoted to the public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). We know they brought hymns, words of instruction, revelations, tongues and interpretations (1 Cor. 14:26). In other …

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Matt Redman’s We Shall Not Be Shaken – Review

I first met Matt Redman in 1997 when I was over in England for a worship conference. In a few minutes of conversation a few things stood out to me. He was a young man passionate about impacting his generation with worship songs that communicated biblical truth about God and not simply emotional responses. He was theologically aware and gospel-focused. He was articulate. And he was humble. Over the past years my first impressions have not only been confirmed; they’ve been deepened. After listening to his latest album, We Shall Not Be Shaken, I found myself thanking God once again for Matt’s faithfulness to serve the church with his songwriting …

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The Songs We Sing Make a Difference – J.C. Ryle on Augustus Toplady

In his book, Christian Leaders of the 18th Century, J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) spends a chapter on August Toplady, the gifted but often contentious hymn-writer/pastor who penned “Rock of Ages.” I appreciated Ryle’s comments on the effect of writing good songs for the church to sing. It makes me more aware of the importance of leading and writing songs for congregational worship. Good hymns are an immense blessing to the Church of Christ. I believe the last day alone will show the world the real amount of good they have done. They suit all, both rich and poor. There is an elevating, stirring, soothing, spiritualizing, effect about a thoroughly …

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Matt Redman on Romantic Language in Worship Songs

Ben Neumann, a member of my church, told me about an interview with Matt Redman that was recorded a couple years ago. I’ve had a number of opportunities to hang around with Matt, and each time I walk away encouraged by the grace of God in his life. He’s a diligent theologian, a devoted husband and dad, a brilliant songwriter, and a leader who is always seeking to direct your attention to the greatness of God’s glory in Christ. I’m affected by his love for and understanding of the gospel, and his heart to see people pursue God with a biblically informed passion. In this interview he talks about how he’s revisiting the use of romantic language …

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Song Lists from WorshipGod09

After last year’s WorshipGod conference we received some feedback that we had introduced too many new songs. I agreed. So at WorshipGod09 we tried to include  more songs that people would be familiar with, while also including songs from our recent projects. Here’s what we ended up with. Song list from Wednesday PM: 1. Come Thou Fount – By Robert Robinson, John Wyeth and Bob Kauflin. Guitar chart. 2. Greater Than We Can Imagine – Sovereign Grace Music. From Psalms. 3. The Father’s Love – Sovereign Grace Music. From Sons and Daughters. 4. God Over All – Sovereign Grace Music. From Looked Upon and Next 2009 Live. 5. Here is Love – By William …

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