In his outstanding book, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, Bryan Chapell writes, “Liturgy tells a story. We tell the gospel by the way we worship.”
That thought influenced the song choices and order for our latest album, The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11, 15 songs that tell the story of the gospel and our appropriate response to it.
In Scripture and history, God’s glory and grace have informed and shaped the way we relate to him. We’re awed by his greatness but attracted by his mercy. We’re undone by his holiness but drawn by his forgiveness. It’s a pattern that’s reflected in Isaiah’s encounter with God in Isaiah 6 as well as the scenes of praise around the throne in the book of Revelation. Beholding God’s glory and encountering his grace lead to going forth in mission – making the glory of God known to others.
Musicians know that when the flow of songs isn’t right, it’s a problem. But meetings are more than music and the gospel affects more than a musical flow. The way God relates to us – by the gospel of grace – is meant to shape the structure, order, and flow of our entire meeting.
That was the thought behind the progression of songs for The Gathering. At WorshipGod11, we interspersed the songs with readings from Scripture and comments that explained the flow of the evening. Here’s how it worked out:
Call to Worship (invitation to celebrate God’s grace)
There is One Reason
Adoration (recognizing God’s greatness and grace)
Greater Than We Can Imagine
Come Praise and Glorify
Confession (our sin and need for grace)
Shine Into Our Night
Have Mercy on Me
Assurance of Pardon (God’s provision of grace)
Now Why This Fear (right click for a free download)
Thanksgiving (gratefulness for God’s grace)
Petition and Intercession (dependence on God’s grace)
When You Move
Preparation to hear God’s Word (our need to grow in the knowledge of grace)
Your Words of Life
Show Us Christ
Consecration (response to God’s grace)
All I Have is Christ
Communion/Fellowship (the grace of union with Christ and his people)
We Hunger and Thirst
Commission (our desire to make God’s grace known)
Lift High the Cross
Benediction (living in the power of grace)
As You Go
I’m increasingly persuaded that we lose direction in our gatherings because we focus primarily on different pieces (songs, announcements, offering, sermon, etc.) rather than the gospel that holds all the pieces together. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose to redeem sinners and to reconcile them to God (1 Pet. 3:18). We have no greater news to share with the world (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We have no greater power to display (Rom. 1:16). We have no greater message to proclaim (1 Pet. 2:9). Thinking about how the gospel affects not only our songs and sermons, but also the structure, of our meetings will go a long way towards insuring that we’re giving attention to the most important things when we meet.
On a more mundane note, I was excited that all but two of the musicians on The Gathering are from Sovereign Grace churches (it was great to have Ryan Foglesong and Dave Zimmer from Enfield on bass and drums). For some time I’ve wanted to give a platform not only to our songwriters and vocalists, but also to our instrumentalists and arrangers. I’m pretty excited about what our players have come up with.
You can purchase the album from Amazon (6.99), iTunes (9.99), or Bandcamp (9.00) (includes guitars charts and lead sheets). I hope you enjoy listening to and singing these songs as much as we did recording them.
You can download all the lead sheets and guitar charts here.
You going to release piano scores for the new songs?
Diane, we’re working on the piano scores.
Ah hahaha, Diane, I was going to ask the exact same thing!
The album is great! Thanks for continuing to serve the church. Are there plans to also release the videos recorded via youtube, vimeo, itunes, ect?
Brandon, thanks for your encouragement! Yes, we intend to release videos of various songs as we have time to edit them.
It was thrilling to listen to the album and relive the wonderful memories from WorshipGod11. I have used a couple of the songs with our band and it is fun for them to now here how the songs are “supposed” to sound. Thank you for your commitment to Christ and His church. There is much from this album that will bless my congregation and help us in our gatherings to worship God with a multitude of expressions. Thank you for blessing me and my church.
I just downloaded the album and looking forward to listen t it this weekend. WG 2011 was my first WorshipGod Conference. My wife and I will be returning in two years. We appreciated the hospitality and great teaching & worship.
I, too, am persuaded that we have lost direction in our gatherings and the WG 2011 has soldified this conviction. Thanks for your ministry, Bob.
Thanks, Bob – I look forward to them!! :)
What. A. Great. Album.
This album is fantastic and immediately helpful for the gathered saints on any given Sunday morning. Every time we sing, we are teaching the people something, and this helps us to teach them the truth of the word of Christ. Many thanks to the Lord for SGM. Our church’s worship is richer because of it.
I know you and Steve Cook put in countless hours, and from one who leads local church worship, let me say thank you. This may be the best SGM album yet. We haven’t stopped listening to it.
Barry, thanks for your encouraging words!
it has been so wonderful to listen to these new songs as i walk in the mornings. what a blessing to all of God’s people! thank you for many hours and prayers and sacrifices in time and energy you guys have all put into this project.
God has already spoken to me specifically through some of the songs, and we want to use them in our tiny church soon.
love to you all through our Lord
It is encouraging to find contemporrary music being written that fits in with the liturgical shape of the worship service, I especially like the Eucharistic song and the linkage to the wedding feast. :)
Bob, something I downloaded in the past had the lyrics right on my itouch screen as the song was playing, as opposed to just the cover. I thought that was awesome, and very helpful, any chance for more of that?
I want to thank the Sovereign Grace Songwriters for your faithfulness to the Lord in writing such rich worship songs to share with all of out here who are constantly searching for fresh ways to minister to our local congregations through music. There are two songs that are particularly meaningful to me right now — “We Hunger and Thirst”, and “As You Go”. We are using both of these this year at our city’s National Day of Prayer Celebration through creative expressions such as dance, worship sign language, and flags. May God continue to be glorified as we all serve Him together across this nation, and may many, many come to Christ Jesus!
Thank you so much for this album! Following up on other people’s comments from last year, I was wondering if you knew when the piano scores will be available for The Gathering? I would love our church to sing All I Have Is Christ and we need to do it in the key of C, but the only available score is in D I think. If you were able to let me know that would be great. Thank you!
Nathan, I just got an email from my daughter/assistant asking the same thing. We hope to have them done by next month. Thanks for your patience!