Ken Boer, who serves as music director at my church, encouraged me to share some of the thoughts I have as I plan songs for a Sunday meeting.
This past Sunday morning as Josh Harris and I were talking about songs for Sunday, he asked if we could introduce the song, Everlasting God, by Brenton and Ken Riley. It’s taken from the CD of the same name. Here are the lyrics:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord (repeat)
Our God You reign forever
Our hope our strong deliv’rer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles
Copyright 2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
The lyrics are taken from Isaiah 40:28-31. I appreciate this song for a number of reasons.
1. The melody is singable but creative. It has a wide range and some syncopation, but most congregations should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.
2. Brenton does a great job communicating the passage of Scripture in a fresh way. Some songs are taken directly from Scripture and can help a congregation memorize God’s Word. Other songs serve as a commentary on a passage, helping us to respond to God’s Word or better understand its meaning. I’ve found these “commentary” songs very helpful in congregational worship, where the problem is usually not knowledge of God’s Word but comprehension.
3. The repetition of the line “we will wait upon the Lord” reinforces our need to look to the Lord for strength repeatedly.
4. The chorus acknowledges that there are times when we feel faint, weary, weak, and in need. God helps people who recognize their lack! Yet in the midst of our inadequacy we find our everlasting God to be more than sufficient.
5. The song presents clear objective truth about the God we worship: He reigns! He is our hope! He is a strong deliverer! He is everlasting!
While the song stands on its own as a profession of our dependence on and trust in God, I always try to help people see God through the lens of the Gospel. We have been saved to see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). So before Everlasting God, we sang the song “I Come Running,” by Mark Altrogge, from the Valley of Vision CD. The song contains these lines:
Once I was Your foe, a slave to sin
A stranger to Your love, a hopeless outcast
But You have brought me near, I’m bought with blood
Now I’m Your precious child, an heir with Jesus…
I come running to you…
Copyright 2005 Sovereign Grace Praise.
After affirming God’s faithfulness and strength in Everlasting God, we sang “O Great God,” from the same CD. Here we were expressing the desire for God’s strength not only sustain us in trials, but to enable us to live for his glory. Some of the lines include:
Then your Spirit gave me life
Opened up your Word to me
Through the Gospel of your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace…
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heav’n
Glorify your name through me
We then went on to share the Lord’s Supper. We sang the chorus of “Before the Cross” while we shared communion, and finished with “Before the Throne of God Above,” music by Vikki Cook. My goal in leading was to see our trust in God strengthened as we considered his supreme display of faithfulness in the death and resurrection of his Son. He is the everlasting God who has secured for us an everlasting salvation. How can we not trust him?
I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months now and have never left a comment. I just had to write today and say thank you. Your blog is a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and wisdom. I am a 31 year old worship leader from AZ. I so much appreciate this blog!!! Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!!
Thanks for your very meaningful encouragement. Recently I’ve been trying to sharpen the focus of the blog to better serve worship leaders and pastors. Although I’m happy if anyone benefits from what I’m thinking, it brings me a particular joy to know that in some small way I can help guys like you serve God’s people more effectively. So thanks for letting me know that I’m doing that!
I am a 25 year old corporate worship leader, and am on the brink of joining the staff of a church in Houston. The worship team consists of a good number of talented people, and instruments ranging from trapset and guitar to timpani and flute. To this point, the band has used printed sheet music for all of the songs they play; this means that someone has manually entered everything into a music writing program (Finale) and printed everything out. It also means that for any given song, A) Musicians have four to six pages of material to deal with, B) creativity and freedom of expression are squelched a bit, and C) introducing new songs to the band, and to the congregation, will be very difficult.
I have been used to working from chord charts, where the lyrics are provided, and there are chord names above the lyrics where the chord changes. I feel that this creates structure but allows creativity and freedom, and logistically it makes much more sense, because it would take up a LOT less space, and would allow me to much more easily introduce new songs.
My question is this: A) Is it a good idea to try to transition a group of people who are used to sheet music to a chord chart paradigm, and 2) if it IS a good idea, how should I go about making that transition?
Your wisdom regarding this issue would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for insight into your song selection for Sunday. We are introducing Everlasting God tomorrow. We are leading into it with one of our congregation’s favorite songs “Everlasting” A double dose of considering the infinite attribute of God? It seemed to work today at rehearsal.
Perrow Presbyterian Church
Cross Lanes, WV
Are you doing the Everlasting by Eric Hughes and Aaron Baird? If so, we’re using those same two songs here tomorrow morning.
Yes Bob, as a matter of fact is was the Hughes/Baird song. It worked out well. We ended up praying and ministering to a father in our congregation who has a daughter serving on the mission field in Africa. The village she is in is being threatened by rising flood waters. All of the leaders she serves with were away from the village for one reason or another. She alone was having to coordinate an evacuation plan for 45 orphans on her own. Needless to say a song taken from Isaiah 40 spoke to him and his wife an our church family in a wonderful way! God’s “selection of songs” is, well… perfect!
Thanks for asking. I think I answered a similar question here:
It’s the post for Feb. 23, 2007.
Let me know if that works.