God takes care of details

It’s amazing how perfect God’s timing is in medium-to-large issues as well as amazingly small details. This past Sunday in particular was one of those days where God’s providence stood out. Our wonderful drummer Alonzo was sick, but it happened to be a Sunday when my brother (a drummer and worship leader) was visiting with his family. Wow.
 
For me personally, I know that sometimes Sunday afternoon and evening can be a lonely time in the heart of church musicians. Was what we do effective, impactful, or not? Did it help to edify the congregation in worship? Is it even “ok” to wonder about that or is that my own pride and vanity coming into focus? (Or is it perhaps the lies of the Enemy looking for an place to take root?) Well… this evening I received two separate emails from members of the congregation – each with a word of Godly encouragement for the ministry of music that we provide in the worship services – never praising the music itself, but for the way that it lead us to hear, to sing, and to receive the Word of God in our hearts. This is encouragement for everyone involved in the CSPC music and worship ministry to hear!
 
I started this post thinking that supplying a drummer was the “medium” issue and the encouragement was the small detail… but now I think I may have had those items reversed. Either way, God has very practically reminded me of his timing, providence, and extra-personal “I-know-all-your-insecurities-and-still-choose-to-reach-you” grace abounding. The God who created the universe and breathed life into the cosmos cared deeply and personally enough to send a couple of emails and a drummer.
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Music Review: Let All Things Now Living, arr. Duane Funderburk

This arrangement by Duane Funderburk (mp3 and pdf sample) was our prelude for this past Sunday morning, and here are some takeaways:

  • The parts are well-written for each instrument – everyone playing will enjoy their contribution.
  • The parts are not for intermediate players – you need players who are advanced on their instrument.
  • You will need some rehearsal time to really achieve an ensemble with this piece – and it is well worth it.

Musically, this is an exciting arrangement that manages to stay true to the meaning and the spirit of the text. It also ends beautifully with a recap of some of the earlier musical episodes, finishing in a graceful andante. When used in a service of worship, this softer ending helps to defuse the tendency to applaud the skills of the players, and it instead helps the congregation to consider what the song is about, rather than how well it was played.

Mr. Funderburk has several other arrangements in this same series, and I look forward to working on them and using them in upcoming worship services.

Download: The Church’s One Foundation

Here’s a new arrangement of the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”, text by Samuel Stone, tune “AURELIA” by Samuel Sebastien Wesley. This arrangement was written for guitars/bass/drums, piano and organ. We sang it at Cedar Springs using the four stanzas printed, although you may choose to use different stanzas.

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Click to download a PDF of this chart

Now for some background on this hymn, courtesy of the excellent book “The One Year Book of Hymns” published by Tyndale House. Samuel Stone’s ministry work during the mid 1800’s was located in the outskirts of London, near Windsor on the Thames. He was regarded as a fundamentalist and stood in opposition to the liberal theological tendencies of the day. He was also very protective of the people in his congregation, many of whom lived under the threat of violence from local crime gangs. Samuel was not afraid to take them on in order to shepherd his flock.

This hymn, and many others, was written when he was 27 years old as a part of a collection of hymns based on the Apostle’s Creed. Two years later in 1868, Anglicans gathered from around the world to discuss theological issues that were tearing the church apart. They chose this hymn as the processional for their historic conference.

– Adapted from “The One Year Book of Hymns” – August 15 devotional.

Sunday review: “All Creatures of Our God and King”

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Image courtesy of the blog, “Good Fruit”

We began our congregational singing yesterday at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church with “All Creatures of Our God and King” – an updated version of the hymn that uses drop-D DADGAD tuning in the guitar. Here’s what the forces involved were:

  • Worship leader: vocals and acoustic guitar
  • 2 female vocalists
  • choir
  • electric lead guitar
  • piano
  • bass
  • drums
  • pipe organ
  • congregation

Some notes – our congregation and choir members who are long-time church folks learned this first with the original rhythmic and metrical design of the hymntune, LASST UNS ERFREUEN (Hymnary.org link). Our updated chart is in 4/4 all the way through. Folks in the congregation had an initial adjustment to make if they already knew the hymn, but it was an easy adjustment because they could see the worship leader and the vocalists. The choir, on the other hand, had a harder time because they could NOT see the faces of the leaders. They did figure it out after a verse, but in hindsight I should have gone over it with them ahead of time, even if it had just been that morning before the service. I just didn’t think it would be a problem. Whoops!

All that said, it ended up being a fun chart to play, GREAT words to sing, and enough familiarity and newness to bridge the generations in our congregation. I was pretty happy about the way it turned out. (NOTE – if you play the chart, know that we extended the BbM7 chord another 2 beats at the end, 6 beats in total. Just felt better.)

Download the chart: PDFSibelius 7MusicXML

DISCLAIMERS:

  • Note: The text in our hymnal is under copyright, so the chart offered here has no lyrics.
  • You are free to use at your church – I just ask that you shoot me a note to let me know you are using it.

Soli Deo gloria!