Help from Heaven

matt-rContinuing the journey through Christmas albums, here is a beautiful song from Matt Redman’s newly released Christmas Lights album, called Help from Heaven.

“When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in, still believe oh
One more step into the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe, Just believe in help from heaven”

Indeed, this may be where you are right now, facing the hidden road ahead. Yet it is the hope of heaven, anchored in Christ, which brings help and strength to us in the daily challenges . . . and in the more difficult challenges: things like declining health, aging, broken relationships, injustice and inexplicable tragedies. As I listen to this song I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-4.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Christ is our life! What an assurance. If that is not help from Heaven, I’m not sure what is. Blessings to you!

http://www.worshiptogether.com/songs/help-from-heaven-matt-redman/

Help from Heaven

There is a moment ev’ry heart needs a rescue
There is a season ev’ry soul needs a breakthrough
Help from heaven, We all need help from heaven

There is a whisper a voice of hope inside you
There is an answer a name above to guide you
Help from heaven, We all need help from heaven
Help from heaven

Chorus 1

When the world is on our shoulders
And we need a hand to hold us
When no miracle is found still believe oh
When the sea of night surrounds us
And all questions try to drown us
Just believe
Just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

Verse 3

There is a reason these tears will not be wasted
There is a future for all these broken pieces
Look to heaven
All we need is help from heaven
Help from heaven

Chorus 2

When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in still believe oh
One more step into the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe
Just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

Misc 1

(Bridge)
Taking heart and holding on
Hope is closer than we know
Heaven will not let us go
Help from heaven
(Never will let us go)
(REPEAT)
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2016 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Crossroad Distributors Pty. Ltd.)
http://www.worshiptogether.com/songs/help-from-heaven-matt-redman/

 

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Two new albums: Matt Redman and Casting Crowns

matt-rHere are two new albums I found recently. They contain some great new favourites from artists who reliably point us to Jesus, the living Word of God, Emmanuel! Matt Redman’s Christmas album is refreshingly original with beautiful lyrics to inspire. You may find something special here for your Christmas program. Blessings to you!

MATT REDMAN – These Christmas Lights (2016) Listen on iTunes

Here is a lyric video which could be used at a Christmas carols night: http://www.christiansongtracks.com/worship-tracks/62398/these-christmas-lights-

CASTING CROWNS: The Very Next Thing (2016) Listen on iTunes

The conundrum of keys, capos and congregational singing

capoarticle_1_1

Most of the songs we now use to gather Christ’s body together in praise and worship are not written for that specific purpose – for singing together. Rather, they are written to be performed and recorded (for God’s glory), while satisfying the vocal range of an experienced soloist, who most often has a fairly high male (tenor) voice. The melodies are therefore shaped and situated in a vocal range that few of us can manage. Sure, we can sing along with the best of them on our iPods, but unconsciously we do a lot of octave jumping, or harmonising, so that we can sing along. This doesn’t work too well when the congregation is singing together.

Choosing the right key is quite tricky. The default or original key on SongSelect rarely works well. It can end up with a really high melody section in the chorus that no one can sing (bar the tenors) or else the whole thing is too low when you jump down an octave. This low singing equates to really quiet singing, and when we can’t hear each other we are discouraged from singing at all.

You also have to consider the musicians: is this great key the guitarists are happy to play in one which will induce a mild psychosis in the keyboard player, as they scamper around playing on only the black notes?

Here are just four rules of thumb that I find work well when selecting singable and playable keys for church singing (on SongSelect (CCLI) or a similar website).

1. Keep the vocal range between A (below middle C) and D (8 notes above middle C). Remember that D signals Distress for many people, so ensure the transposed melody only has a few passing notes of the high D (and the low A as well, for that matter). If the song ends up with a low G as the anacrusis note in the melody of the verse then teach it as a B instead (it should fit the chord, and won’t really be noticed).

2. Try to maintain the original shape and development of the song, starting with low verse notes and moving to higher chorus notes. If you sabotage the ‘chorus lift’ by a poorly chosen key, or by forcing people to jump down an octave, it can all fall seriously flat.

3. Don’t choose keys that have too many sharps or flats. Stick to maximum of four sharps (E major) and max 3 flats (Eb major). There are a few major keys that work well for both guitar and keys: C, D, E, G and A major. Keyboard players generally don’t mind keys with flats (one flat F major, two flats Bb major), but these will probably make your guitarists unhappy. This leads to my next point.

4. Understand Capos and get your guitarists to understand and use them. The keyboard and the guitarists can play in different keys quite effectively. A guitar capo effectively shortens the guitar strings and produces a higher sound. This enables the guitarists to play in comfortable keys (mostly ones with sharps) while the pianist can play in a key with flats that may mean a better vocal range for the congregation.

For example, if I want to use Matt Redman’s Ten Thousand Reasons in a flat key (Eb major, with three flats), then the guitarists can play in D (with their music in key of D) and capo on the first fret. (Each fret raises the guitar’s pitch by a semitone. So, the guitarists playing in D major want it to sound Eb major. Placing the capo on fret one moves the sound up by a semitone. Success! It sounds in Eb major but they don’t have to play in a key with flats.)

Another example would be Trevor Hodge’s No Other Name (Listen below!) in Bb, which has two flats. The guitarists can play in G major, but sound Bb by placing the capo on fret 3. There are 3 semitone steps to get from G to Bb (go check a keyboard) which is why the guitar must use capo three.

Remember that the guitarist needs to be playing in a key slightly lower than the keyboard player, so that the capo will bring their sound up to pitch, and they will only need to use capo 1, 2 or 3.

Next time: let’s look at a case study and decide what to do with Tomlin’s ‘Jesus, Son of God’ which has a huge vocal range! I’m still working on this one myself.

Praying through the songs 500+ women will sing tomorrow

grow2013_bannerI’m spending some time reflecting on the 9 songs (titles in bold) I’ll be leading tomorrow at the GROW Women’s Conference at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre. The cool thing is that as these women sing, they are also declaring God’s greatness to each other, and praying publicly to Him! I’ve just woven the nine titles into a prayer. May it also be your prayer today:

Dear Loving Heavenly Father
Blessed be Your Name! There is no other name given under heaven by which we can be saved. We have more than 10 000 Reasons to praise you for the blessings you have given us in Christ, the blessings that reveal your faithfulness to us, your trustworthy character, and the fact that you keep your promises. We See the Man, Jesus, the man you sent to reverse the curse we brought on ourselves by our disobedience to you. He is the man who destroys death and now reigns, the righteous one who died for the unrighteous, that we might know You. Jesus is all we need in this changing and uncertain world, because he is the unchanging promised Saviour. Help us to realise that all we need is Christ. Indeed, All I have is Christ! We cannot keep any of the glory this world offers. neither do we need it! Thankyou for this confidence! Whatever our circumstances you have taught us to say It is Well, It is well with my soul. We have this peace like a river, peace that we have come to know if we are in Christ. He is an anchor for our souls and we can say “it is well”, the victory is won. I will rise on eagle’s wings because Jesus has overcome the sin that kept us dead to you. Oh the Deep Deep love of Jesus which is vast, unmeasured, boundless and free! It is an ocean full of blessing in the midst of every test. You will bring us home to glory. Great is Thy Faithfulness – in fact, nothing can reach the end of your faithfulness. If all the plans I make go wrong your love stays the same. You light will guide me through every shadow, every storm. I will hold on to you because you are My Hope, a hope built on your great love and righteousness. Keep me walking in your way, keep me trusting your heart and trusting your name.

Amen.

Never once did we ever walk alone

Most of you would agree that any form of exercise is more enjoyable when someone else is with you. Even just walking with a friend they help you go further and longer than you ever thought possible. You forget about the difficulties, your sore foot, or back, the cold weather, or how much you hate exercise. Walking alone you can think of a million reasons to stop. A companion helps you keep going. (Dog companions are especially good at this.)

When it comes to us and God, we have a wonderful promise – that He is with us, always. There is not once that we were alone. He is in us, walking with us through every difficulty. Yet he is more than just a faithful or encouraging companion. He is a Spirit who lives in us, a Spirit not of timidity and fear, but of love, power and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Matt Redman’s song “Never Once” (Album: 10 000 Reasons) captures well this confidence we have in Christ, that we are in Christ and He is most certainly with us, in us. We are never alone!

“Never Once”

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come Knowing that for every step You were with us
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done Knowing every victory was Your power in us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Praise the Lord: New song list ready for 2013!

pianoThe 2013 list is ready! There are just so many good songs out there, it has been pretty tough to eliminate ones I love. But it is great to have a plan mapped out. Some of these songs have been waiting in the wings for several years, so it is exciting to finally get everyone singing along.
There is nothing like a new song to present God’s truth to people in a new and refreshing way, and to focus people’s attention on some important element of the Gospel of Grace which they may have overlooked. I have included lots of details for our music team at ARPC to consider; would love to hear your thoughts on any songs that stand out, for whatever reason. I have also commented on the feel and theme of the song, plus the key I think fits best for a congregation. At our church we have two services, a more traditional family service in the morning, and an evening Cafe Church service, with an average age of around 30, and a good number of teenagers – this is why I have designated some songs to fit only one service. (Sorry if I have overlooked some details. Hope you can find them easily enough. Most lead sheets are on CCLI. Purchase individual songs on iTunes.)

BOTH SERVICES:
1. No Other Name (Trevor Hodge 2010, EMU – Album: Undivided). Listen here This is such an uplifting song, with a tremendous crescendo in verse three which is sung up the octave (for those of your congregation who can). Jesus is our joy in sorrow’s tears, my broken heart’s delight, my strength, my hope! (Key Bb – use key A capo 1 for guitars, or key G capo 3)
2. See the Man (Trevor Hodge 2008, EMU – Album: Advent).  In this song we connect the man Jesus with the promises to the first Adam, and to Abraham, and we see how Jesus has come to fulfill these promises and undo what sin has done. Great theology and a lilting 6/8 rhythm. (Key D)
3. We Belong to the Day (Michael Morrow 2006, EMU – Album: Come hear the Angels sing). Listen What I love about this one is the minor/major change from verse to chorus, and the really triumphant bridge. It challenges us to see that our identy and security is in Christ, He is our refuge from the coming wrath. This song makes no apologies about the reality of what is to come. (Not too many songs feature the coming wrath!) (Key E)
4. Majesty of Heaven (Chris Tomlin 2010 – Album: And if our God is For Us). Listen “To You the nations bow down, To You creation cries out majesty, All things You hold together, Your name will stand forever, Majesty You are majesty.” What a great way to praise the King! (Key G)
5. Saving One (Jon Neufeld, Mia Fieldes, Tim Neufeld 2010 – Starfield). ListenAnd heaven can’t contain the glory of the Son, Jesus is the Christ, The Saving One”. The bridge of this song brings an awesome reminder that all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. This is a simple song but the message is clear – Jesus saves! (Try Key Bb, so bridge is not so high. Guitars can Capo 1 in A)

MORNING service only:
1. Creation Sings the Father’s Song (Getty, 2008 – Album: Awaken the Dawn). Listen This modern hymn from the Gettys invites us to join with creation and praise the Father. “Let all creation stand and sing! Fill the earth with songs of worship! Tell the wonders of Creation’s King.” (Key Bb, guitar Capo 3 in G)
2. All I have is Christ (Jordan Kauflin 2008, Sovereign Grace). Listen That is, afterall, all we have that we can count on in this world! Hallelujah! The song moves us to know that Christ, who saved us from our “hell-bound race” is indeed now our only boast. (Key C, so it’s not too high!)
3. Never Alone (Philip Percival & Simone Richardson 2006, EMU – Album: Let All Creation Sing). Listen This is a gentle song, with a simple melody, but the lyrics bring much comfort. Christ is with us. We are not alone. The song tells the story in 4 verses, of the God-man come to earth, dying and rising for us; now he walks with us in joy and pain. (Key D)
4. Show us Christ (Doug Plank 2011, Sovereign Grace). Listen  A reflective prayer song, asking that God would reveal His glory through the preaching of His Word, that our hearts would be ready to receive His Word, that it would be implanted there and grow much fruit in our lives. This would be great to sing before hearing a message. The wording is very inclusive (us, our, we) and calls people to recognise the community of the church. (Key Bb, use A for guitar, Capo 1).
5. Hear the Call of the Kingdom (Getty 2006 – Album: In Christ Alone). Listen This is a pretty exciting song about the call of the Kingdom, from Jesus, to us, to be part of His expanding Kingdom stretching across time and space, into eternity. We are called to be children of light, living with the humility of Christ. (Key F major, guitar capo 3 in D)

CAFE CHURCH only:
1. 10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord (Matt Redman 2011 – Album: 10,000 Reasons). Listen This is a gentle yet important song with a rousing chorus. It invites us to tell our souls, in no uncertain terms, that we must value, trust, sing out/call on the Holy name of the Lord – afterall, we have 10,000 reasons to do so! I love the dramatic pause he has created with the inclusion of the two-four bars, leading into the chorus.
2. Hosanna (Brooke Fraser 2006). Listen  Yes, we are a little behind the times having not taught this one yet! It is a favourite for many people, especially for the heartfelt cry of the Bridge section, “Heal my heart and make it clean, Open up my eyes to the things unseen, Show me how to love like You have loved me.” (Default Key is E, but maybe try in D major).
3. Our God (Chris Tomlin – Album: And if Our God is For Us). Listen There is no one like our God, and He is for us. That’s all I need to say. It is a powerful message. (Key G)

Could we live in grace and change the world?

Just discovered this grace-filled challenge tucked away on Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons album, in the song We could Change the World. It’s not really suitable for a congregation to sing, but it is a great personal challenge: Am I really living like God’s grace has made a difference? Am I responding in a way that shows I know God is loving and is stronger than everything in this world? Could I live like this? What’s stopping me?
Only listen if you are prepared to do some serious thinking…and praying.
(See Ephesians 1:16-23 for more details!)

Could we live like Your grace is stronger
Than all our faults and failures?
Could we live like Your love
Is deeper than our hearts can fathom
Could we live like this?

Could we live like Your name is higher
Than every other power?
Could we live like Your ways
Are wiser than our understanding?
Could we live like this?
Could we live like this?

[Chorus]
Yes, our God is all He says, all He says He is
Jesus, in Your name we could change the world
We stand in Your love, in Your power
And all You say we are
Jesus, in Your name we could change the world

We believe that Your grace is stronger
Than all our faults and failures
We believe that Your love
Is deeper than our hearts can fathom
So could we live like this
And shine in all the world
Could we live like this?

We’re saying, “yes, Lord, yes, Lord!”
What else could we say, what else could we say?
We’re saying, “yes, Lord, yes, Lord!”
We’re going all the way, we’re going all the way
We’re going to live like this

Yes, our God is all He says, all He says He is
Yes, our God is all He says, all He says He is

New songs we’ve been singing in 2012

Just reflecting here on the range of new songs our church family has enjoyed this year, songs of great encouragement and challenge, songs which speak God’s truth well. I’ll describe each one a little for you below (click on the title to listen), with my suggested best key for each. Hopefully you will find something refreshing to inspire your congregation, and continue to grow everyone together in the grace and knowledge of God . . . through the power of His Word in song!

My Hope (2010) – Paul Baloche, Alyssa Mellinger, Ed Kerr, Sheila Rabe (album “The Same Love”). This one has been a real blessing, particularly the line “Nothing can reach the end of all your faithfulness”. I have introduced this at two women’s conferences during the year also, where one woman told me it was an answer to prayer. Awesome. It has a fairly gentle verse, and a rousing Chorus which echos the thoughts of “My Hope is built on nothing less”. I’ve talked more about this one in another post. (Key: A Major)

Majesty of Heaven (2010) – Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Matt Redman (album And if our God is For Us). This song gives a great picture of King Jesus ruling over this creation, and each of us. The nations bow down to the Majesty of Heaven, in whom all things hold together! We also taught this one in January to a gathering of 600+, mainly mature folk at a CMS convention. They caught on quickly and sang well! (Key G Major).

Hail the Day that Christ Arose (2011) – Charles Wesley, Steve and Vikki Cook (Sovereign Grace Music, album Risen). This song is about the day of the Ascension, something not written about all that often. It is based on an old hymn, but has a really triumphant new ‘Hallelujah’ chorus, which points us to see the King of Love on His throne. We use the Coda section as a Bridge and finish with the Chorus. (Key D Major)

By Our Love (2009)- Christy Nockels (Album Life Light Up). This song is a great one for encouraging unity and acts of love in your church family. It is based around the verse which says the world will know we are Christians by our love. Each verse addresses a different group of people, men, women, and children – who will be reaching with the words of the Gospel “long after we’ve gone”. (We use G major – starts quite low, but chorus is too high if you shift up a key.)

Stronger (2007) – Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan (Hillsong – Album This is Our God). This song has a really victorious feel, which celebrates the power of Jesus’ resurrection over our sin. He is stronger than every thing that burdens us, He is Lord of all, so let’s lift up His name. (Try this in C or Bb major.)

Oh What a Day (2011)  – Mark Altrogge (Sovereign Grace Music, album Risen). This is pretty speedy and rhythmic song, which can be carried by a drummer or pianist with good rhythm! The Day this song focuses on is the Day Christ defeated death and rose from the grave. (Default key is D – we find it works better in C.)

Glorious Day (2009)- John Wilbur Chapman, Mark Hall, Michael Bleecker (Casting Crowns, album Til the Whole World Hears). You will find the whole Gospel in this song. Each verse speaks of a different glorious day: Christ coming to earth, dying, rising, and then looking forward to the day of his return! (Key A Major.)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

Blessings to you as you encourage God’s gathered people to praise Him!

This is How we Know (John 3:16)

John 3 16If you have only recently joined me for the Three Sixteens, you should know that this series explores my observation that nearly all New Testament books have some “lightbulb” moment, a standout verse, event or promise, landing at the point of chapter 3 verse 16. (And no one knows why!) The 3:16 of John’s Gospel is no doubt the most famous of all. It has been printed on shirts, cards, keyrings and stickers and taught in Sunday School songs til it has become the most famous bible verse of all time (even with non-Christians). And fair enough. This verse reveals God’s great love to us in Christ, his great sacrifice of sending his perfect son to be scorned, suffer and die, to satisfy the law and save us as his own. This eternal life cannot be earned, it is free and available to all who will believe.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Since I really don’t need to convince you that this is a significant summary of God’s love and His redemptive purposes in Christ, I won’t. Instead I will share a song where another clever person (yes, being cheeky here) noticed the 3:16 connection. Matt Redman has connected John 3:16 with 1 John 3:16, and put them together in a song called “This is How we Know” (from the album We Shall not be Shaken, 2009).

1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Redman takes us from God’s great love, demonstrated in Christ, to our response: love God and love others! We recently taught this song to our evening congregation, to match with the sermon series in 1 John. It’s not the easiest song for a congregation to learn, but it is worth the few weeks of revision for the benefit of singing these glorious truths together. You can find the lyrics below.

THIS IS HOW WE KNOW

This is how we know, this is how we know what love is
Just one look at Your cross
And this is where we see, this is where we see how love works
For You surrendered Your all
And this is how we know that You have loved us first
And this is where we chose to love You in return

For You so loved the world that You gave Your only Son
Love amazing so divine, we will love You in return
For this life that You give, for this death that You have died
Love amazing so divine, We will love You in reply, Lord

And our love will be loud, Our love will be strong
Our love should be hands and feet that serve You in this world
So let it stay true and let it endure
That You will be glorified worshipped and adored

Authors Beth Redman  Matt Redman Copyright 2009 Thankyou Music