Magnificent & Song of the Father

Loving these songs from Urban Rescue. Excellent and uplifting lyrics – “Magnificent

And “Song of My Father“:

MAGNIFICENT

Welcomed in, I’m overcome at the feet of perfect love
I am ushered in by Your nail scarred hands
to the place where my chains come undone

Chorus
Magnificent! Magnificent!
We crown You Lord of all, Lamb upon the throne
Magnificent! Magnificent!
Awake my soul to sing to Him who died for me
Magnificent!

See His face now glorified
See the grave where death has died
By His royal blood
Christ has covered us
Crown Him Lord, crown Him Lord of all
He is Lord, He is Lord of all!

Bridge
All of heaven bows down
all creation cries out
‘Jesus, Jesus, Je-sus!’
All of heaven bows down
all creation cries out
“Jesus, Jesus, Jes-us!”

 

Song Of My Father

Verse 1

When silence falls
I hear You call in the secret place
You still my soul with quiet joy
And I’m wide awake

Chorus

In the middle of the night
I look up to the sky
I can hear You singing over me
Through the fire and the flood
I know that I am loved
I can hear You singing over me (yeah)

Verse 2

You spoke the earth with just one word
And You hold my heart
My ev’ry step my ev’ry breath
Is Your work of art

Bridge

I hear Your melody I hear Your symphony
There’s nothing louder than the song of my Father
(REPEAT)

His praises resound in us – the new temple!

image
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous.” (Psalm 118:14-15)

The New Testament doesn’t talk a great deal about the use of music in the gathering of God’s people – but what it does say is very clear. Singing the Word of Christ together is designed to build up, teach and encourage one another, while declaring the praises of Him who loves us. In fact our praises are a really important part of God’s plan for the new temple. Let me explain.

Psalm 118 (and so many more) describes the Temple of God as the place from which our praises and blessings towards God should come. But when Jesus turns up to this earthy temple (Mark 11:1-12:12) there is no praise coming from this place. Herod’s fancy bricks and mortar monstrosity is the seat of money making and exploitation. This place is wrong; this temple building in Jerusalem is not functioning as the house of God. So where is the true temple? How can such a place of praise be established to the Glory of God?

The answer is Jesus.
Jesus went through suffering, pain, rejection – the Cross. In doing this he established the true temple, where true worshippers will praise his holy name. Where is this true temple? Well, it is found in us! We are God’s holy temple (1 Peter 1:5-6,9 1 Peter 1:4-5, 9-10)
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Worship happens not in one tiny location in far off Israel to the exclusion of all other people. Now under new Management, Jesus’ temple is wherever his people are. His people will bring a prayer for the nations and praise for God’s holy name. We are His people, God’s true temple. What a privilege to be part of the true house of our holy God. He lives within and among us; he inspires us to prayer and praise. When we praise Him together we fulfil Psalm 118: People from all nations praying for the nations. We are to be people who pray without ceasing, people who praise his wonderful name. Pray and praise must sound and resound from our Christian communities and individuals. Does that describe you? does that describe us?

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (NLT)

In 1 Corinthians 3:16 the Corinthian church needed Paul to remind them many times about the danger of division amongst God’s people. Paul speaks boldly here, explaining that as a Body of believers, WE ARE the temple of God where He dwells. He lives in us! He no longer chooses to reveal himself and meet with people in an earthly building (as he had done in the past, in Solomon’s temple, God’s house). Now he LIVES in us together. He reveals Himself in us. He has put His Spirit in us, collectively. This echoes the words of Peter (1 Peter 2:5): “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Peter sees that genuine resounding praise can only come from this new spiritual temple – us! So how important it is for God’s people to major on authentic, true, fresh and relevant praise in our gatherings.

For more on this:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2012/09/06/stones-or-bricks-god-lives-in-us-together-1-corinthians-316/

https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2013/08/14/10-principles-for-church-singing/

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.

The Christmas Scale

I now realise that finding time to write interesting blog posts of significant length is going to be a real challenge this month. So I’m sorry to say you will have to be content with some shorter posts and clips (because I’ve found quite a few I’d like to share). This one comes from Igniter Media and will help you see one particular carol in a whole new light. Blessings to you!

You may also enjoy these other video clips which I compiled in a post for Christian Gazette. These would be very engaging and good to use in your carols or Christmas Day services.
http://thechristiangazette.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/great-videos-to-engage-your-church-and-bless-christmas-visitors/

‘Humility’ + ‘musician’ = Great combination

IMAG2157-1I had the privilege of being asked to organise a team of 7 musicians, most of whom I did not know, for a friend’s wedding on the weekend just gone. We had just one practice before the day, yet I am pleased to say the result was pretty great! (Out of interest, the songs we led were “Beautiful Saviour” (Stuart Townend), “This Life I Live” (Michael Morrow, EMU) and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”).
But why should I be surprised that it worked well? The team was comprised of committed Christians who have learnt to balance their musical zeal with a great deal of humility and selflessness. So when it came to figuring out how to work together as a team, and how to best arrange the music, we were on the same page.
It’s like when you meet Christians from another place for the first time and have an instant affinity, an easy friendship. This comes because we have a dad in common, our heavenly Father! We are united in Christ and share a family resemblance in our attitudes. When there is a servant heart, a willingness to (musically) do less, to be restrained and to wait on each other, there is much unity and it can lead to a beautiful harmony.
This is certainly the challenge for all Christian musicians: to move from pride, insisting on our own way and seeking our glory, to an attitude of humble servant-heartedness. It is worth reminding ourselves of this every time we turn up for music practice at church.

Nb.  In the process of working with this team I happened to meet a fellow blogger who opened with the question “You’re Seven Notes of Grace aren’t you?” (he was married to one of the musicians). Small world! (I felt famous!) I hadn’t even realised he lived in the same city. You might like to visit some of his reviews over at Eternitainment: “Eternitainment seeks to bring this Christian worldview and the beliefs of modern entertainment together for a heart-to-heart chat, to hear what each is saying. Eternitainment invites you to listen in and join the conversation.” 

You may also like:
Laying aside my taste in music                                 Leading worship is not about us
bird tree music_feelingflat1

New songs say ‘God is doing something now’!

music_is_nature__silhouette_by_sammy3773-1Sometimes change can make us very uncomfortable. It can make us feel totally out of control, it can rob us of things to which we feel entitled. Let’s explore this for a moment in terms of church music.
We Christians develop a real attachment to the songs of our faith. They become associated with the ups and downs we have been through, or the exciting time of our youth, or the time we first came to faith. When we sing them the songs instantly conjure the emotions of those times. This is why some people just can’t sing songs from the funerals of dearly departed friends and family, without being overwhelmed by sadness.

So should we learn new hymns and spiritual songs, especially when such change can cause great angst?  I had a conversation with a lovely friend over the weekend who was frustrated with a lack of interest for changing and updating the songs they sing in their church. Many of her congregation are still attached to the ‘Scripture in Song’ repertoire which became popular in the 70s and 80s. The musical style of these choruses hark back to this era . . . and make some people really cringe!

I have found a great rationale for new songs from Rick Warren, author of the “Purpose Driven Church” (1995). If you study church history you’ll discover that every genuine revival has always been accompanied by new music. New songs say ‘God is doing something here and now, not just a hundred years ago’. Every generation needs new songs to express its faith“.

Another great insight comes from a Presbyterian minister Rowland Lowther (2002). He says that his favourite Christian song is “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”, to the old hymn tune, . . . but for the sake of the Gospel I would be willing to change the musical style so that those wonderful lyrics could impact on the next generation. . . What matters to me more is not that I be moved, but those in the next generation has those wonderful old lyrics to a music format that can lift their spirits to worship the same living God that the writer of this hymn worshipped hundreds of years ago”.

Great point. I think it also comes down to the concept of “renewing our minds”. By hearing the gospel explained by new people, in new and fresh ways, our understanding of God and the gospel of His grace is strengthened and deepened. That has got to be a good thing.

You may also like:

12 Principles for Church Singing                                       New Songs we have been singing
praise him picFamily Singing