Serving by singing

Comment

Serving by singing

“The sight and sound of God’s people singing is a powerful, stirring exhortation for struggling hearts to believe the truths they hear sung around them.”
— http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-if-i-don-t-want-to-sing

I was incredibly encouraged by many things at the recent Doxology and Theology conference.  Over the next few weeks I'll try and blog some highlights and reflections, and you can watch some quick summaries here on my Facebook page.

But probably more than anything, I was deeply encouraged and moved through the message about Christ dwelling richly among us as we sang together (Col 3:16).  Those leading us from the front did an amazing job - because it wasn't so much their contributions that impacted me...but hearts and voices of the people around me.  

We can often be so focused on our own personal experience and engagement with God as we sing that we can loose sight of the gift our singing is meant to be for those around us.  For those of us who 'lead' the church in singing - we need to prayerfully and skilfully facilitate, exhort and spur our churches on to serve one another like this.  But having said that, every one of us needs to remember that we're on the 'music ministry team'! 

This blog from Matt Damico puts it so well, that I'll let him do the rest of the talking!  Read more...

Comment

Melania Trump, rickrolling and worship song writing...

1 Comment

Melania Trump, rickrolling and worship song writing...

This week saw twitter go into overload in response to Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican convention.  It seemed like her speech writers had lifted significant chunks of her speech from a 2008 speech given by Michelle Obama…and then left a knowing ‘nod and wink’ in the form of what may be the highest profile rickroll ever!

The weight of our words

Here was one tweet that caught my attention.

 

Its a significant point - the words our Pastors preach must be able to stand up to that kind of scrutiny.  But lets raise the stakes even higher…imagine if your words are going to be not just scrutinised, but memorised and even adopted by other people as their own expressions?

If you’re aiming to write congregational worship songs, then that’s what you’re aiming for - that people would take words that you’ve penned, and embody them and use them as their own expressions of worship, prayer and praise to God…that’s a huge responsibility!

This was brought home to me recently in a profound and humbling way.  I’ve just started a new role at EV Church, and we’re still very much in that phase of getting to know people, and discovering all the mutual friends and random connections.  As I spoke with one lady, she shared that “I only just realised you wrote that song "You Loved Me"…I’ve sung that to my daughter every night for the last four years!”  That floored me!  I never would have considered that as I was writing that song years ago - that it would be a significant piece in forming this little girls understanding of God’s love for her.

When you’re song writing, do you consider that these are words that might be sung to an infant at bedtime, or held onto in the hospital ward…or become the last words of men facing the firing squad.

We can’t know where God might someday take the song we’re writing at the moment.  But there are definitely things we can do now to strengthen our songs - however God might choose to use them.

Fill our words with The Word

Col 3:16 shows us that songs are a gift from God to "let the message of Christ dwell richly among us”.  So lets aim to saturate our songs with the message of Christ!  And not just settle for stand alone ‘soundbites’ of scripture (I call these ‘muesli songs’ - they are full of little chunks of goodness…but they don’t make any coherent sense!)  Aim to write songs that help people know and understand and embody sections of scripture.  As I prepare for a conference based around 2 Peter 3, Michael Morrow’s “We Belong to the Day” comes straight to mind as a great example of this.

Keep writing

My personal observation (and my own temptation!) is that many songs seem to be ‘finished’ far too soon.  Sometimes we can idolise the creative process - “That’s just the way it came to me”.  Sometimes they might be rushed out to make a deadline - a preaching series or recording project.  Or maybe we’re just eager to share them!  But I think another serious issue is that we often lack the knowledge, experience, tools and skills to helpfully engage in re-writing.  If you’re serious about songwriting for congregational worship, then we must keep growing in our knowledge of God’s Word and how to handle it with integrity.  (Maybe start with How to read the bible for all its worth)  But we also must continue to invest in and grow in our songwriting skills -  how we can better use words, rhythms, rhymes and metaphors to carry and communicate these profound truths.  And to that end, I can’t recommend Pat Pattison’s material highly enough - get a hold of “Writing Better Lyrics”.  But why not take the time out to work through his free Coursera course.  Or, even better, do it as a group or team, so you have shared skills and vocabulary to encourage and critique one another.  Which leads to the next point...

Involve others

If you just want a song to sing for yourself, then don’t worry about this!  But if you’ve got any desire that it might be a song sung by someone else…then it effectively ceases to be ‘your’ song - it becomes their song too.  So why not start with that assumption, and get other people involved in the writing stage as well - seek out co-writers and collaborators who can help in the processes of writing and rewriting.  Run draft songs past your pastor to get feedback on the theology.  Carefully consider and respond to other peoples criticisms…they often have good points to make, and they could strengthen the song.  It can be hard and humbling work…but its definitely worth it!

Finally, if they are words that are worth sticking…then we need to work at writing phrases and melodies that will stick…but that’s a conversation for another day!

1 Comment

Basecamp 2015 Songs

Comment

Basecamp 2015 Songs

Here's the songs we've been singing at Basecamp 2015 - you can click on the song titles to find music resources.

All Creatures of Our God and King - Cmaj

How Great Thou Art - G-Amaj

In Christ Alone - D-Emaj

When I Survey - D-Emaj

No Other Name - Bbmaj

This is Amazing Grace - Emaj

Jesus Paid It All - Bb

Here is Love - D-Emaj

Before the Throne of God Above - Cmaj

10,000 Reasons - Dmaj

 

Comment

Sermon Notes and links - 1st Feb 2015

Comment

Sermon Notes and links - 1st Feb 2015

At Kirkplace we are preaching through the statements of the Apostles Creed, and it was my privilage to preach on the gloriously good news of Jesus Christ - who suffered under Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.  You can listen to the sermon here soon.

But as promised, here are my sermon notes and Bible passages from Sunday's sermon - as well as a few other resources that I've found helpful.

Was it necessary that Jesus suffered and died?

Jesus tried to teach his disciples that he would have to suffer and die.

Mark 8:27-33  -  Mark 9:31-32  -  Mark 10:32-34  -  Mark 10:44-45

Jesus willingly laid down his life

John 10:17-18  -  Phil 2:8

The risen Jesus explained the necessity of his suffering and death from Scripture

Luke 24:25-27  -  Luke 24:44-48

The early christians explained the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and death from Scripture

Acts 3:18  -  Acts 17:2-3  -  Acts 26:22-23 - 1 Cor 15:1-4

The implications of Jesus’ prayer in garden was that there was no other way possible.

Mark 14:32-36

Why was it necessary that Jesus suffered and died?

It was God’s plan, from before creation, to adopt and make holy a people for himself through Christ.

Eph 1:4-8  - John 3:16-17

Why was it necessary to do this through Jesus’ suffering and death?

Because of our sinful condition…  

Rom 3:10-12

…and God’s righteous justice…          

Ex 43:6-7

…Jesus' suffering and death was God’s perfect plan to love, forgive, adopt and make holy sinful people - like us - for his own and satisfy his righteous judgement again sin.

Rom 3:23-26  -  Heb 2:11-15  -  Isa 53:3-6

And therefore Christ’s suffering and death absorbed the wrath of God on our behalf.  

Gal 3:13  -  Eph 2:3-5  -  1 Thess 5:9-10

What did Christ's suffering and death actually achieve?

Christ’s suffering and death bore our sins and purchased our forgiveness.

 1 Pet 2:4  -  Isa 53:5

Christ’s suffering and death provided a perfect obedience and righteousness for us that becomes ours in him.  

2 Cor 5:21  -  Phil 2:7-8

Christ’s suffering and death defeated death.

Heb 2:14-15  -  1 Cor 15:55-57

Christ’s suffering and death bring us to God.  

1 Pet 3:18  - Heb 10:19-22

But the ultimate purpose of Christ’s suffering and death was to demonstrate God’s infinite love, mercy and justice so that his glory might be clearly seen, enjoyed and celebrated.

 Eph 1:4-12  -  Heb 2:9  -  Phil 2:5-11

This talk from John Piper was really helpful in thinking through what Christ's suffering and death has achieved for us.

Personally, I've been reading  New Morning Mercies each morning this year, and its a great way to be reminded of the gospel, and how much we need God's mercy through Christ every day.

 

 

Comment

NextGen15 Week 2 Song list and links

2 Comments

NextGen15 Week 2 Song list and links

Here's a list of the songs we've sung together at NextGen Week 2.  Scroll down for a Spotify player and some ideas of where to find charts.

  • 10,000 Reasons - M. Redman - Dmaj
  • All Creatures of Our God and King  - J. Baird, R. Baird, St. Francis of Assisi, W.H. Draper - Cmaj
  • Be Thou My Vision - E.H. Hull, M.E. Byrne - Dmaj
  • Before the Throne Of God Above - Bb-Cmaj
  • Blessed Be Your Name - M. & B. Redman - Bbmaj
  • Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery - M. Boswell, M. Papa, M. Bleecker - D
  • Everlasting God - B. Brown - Amaj
  • Grace Alone - D. Kensrue - Dmaj
  • Here I Am To Worship - T. Hughes - Emaj
  • Here is Love - R. Lowry, W. Edwards, W. Rees - D-Emaj
  • How Deep The Father's Love For Us - S. Townend - Emaj
  • How Marvellous (I Stand Amazed) - C.H. Gabriel, C. Tomlin - Emaj
  • In Christ Alone - S. Townend - Emaj
  • Jesus, Thank You - B. Kauflin - Gmaj
  • Let Your Kingdom Come - B. Kauflin - Gmaj
  • Man of Sorrows - B. Ligertwood, M. Crocker - Cmaj
  • No Other Name - T. Hodge - Bbmaj
  • O Breath of Life - E.P. Head, T. Hodge - Bbmaj
  • Psalm 13 - T. Hodge - Emaj
  • Rejoice - D. Kensrue, S. Townend - Gmaj
  • Remain - B. Cantelon - Bbmaj
  • Rock of Ages - A.M. Toplady, R. Buchanan - Bmaj
  • Take My Life - F. Havergal, B. Manchester - Bmin
  • This is Amazing Grace - J. Riddle, J. Farro, P. Wickham - Emaj
  • This Life I Live - M. Morrow - Cmaj
  • We Belong To The Day - M. Morrow - Emaj
  • Who Is Our Strength - Dmaj

Where to find charts and resources...

Songselect is the online service of CCLI - its a great place to start looking for resources, and if your church has a Songselect licence, it makes it easy to keep a tab of copyright and links easily with presentation software like Pro-Presenter.

For all the Sovereign Grace songs, go to www.sovereigngracemusic.org - they've just updated the website with lots of resources and a great search function.

www.worshiptogether.com is the webfront for EMI affiliated artists and churches like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Hillsong and Stuart Townend.

Finally, you can also check out www.trevorhodgemusic.com.  From there you can download all my songs and resources for free.  "Who Is Our Strength" is currently unpublished song that's been written with the support of my team on Patreon.  If you'd like to help me devote time to writing more congregational songs like this, then check it out and let me know if you've got any questions.

2 Comments

Doxology and Theology - Friday workshop notes

Comment

Doxology and Theology - Friday workshop notes

The first breakout I sat in on was with Aaron Ivey from Austin Stone Community Church, on Shepherding Worship Leaders.  Here’s some key points and reflections…

If we are given the privilege and responsibility of leadership, one of those responsibilities is to shepherd and pastor those we are leading on our teams.  So we need to be…

  • Equipping and building those in our teams up to maturity - even with the small windows of opportunity we have with them (Eph 4:11-16)

  • Guard and protect them - especially from false teaching (Acts 20:28-30)

  • Humbly and gladly seeking to serve and share our lives with them (1 Peter 5:1-7)

  • Remember that we serve under the true and perfect Good Shepherd (1 Peter 2:25)


Three things (among many) that have the potential to derail this focus - borrowed from Henri Nouwen

  • A desire to be relevant.  Our teams need us to be in stark contrast to the culture that is so often crushing them.

  • A desire to be spectacular.  Reality check…Jesus is the one who is spectacular - lets not attempt to steal His glory!

  • A desire to be powerful.  Remember Jesus’ model of leadership - laying down power for the sake of His sheep.  Are we constantly laying down power for our team’s sake?


And a bunch of other random thoughts…

  • We need to intentionally make time to be with people - not just to get a job done, but to get to know each other better.

  • Related to the above - creative people thrive in community.  Are we intentionally making opportunities for and encouraging community?

  • Teams are built on foundations…what are ours?

  • We need to be vulnerable question askers.  How can I serve you better?  How have I failed you?  What are you dreaming about?

  • We need to create cultures of feedback.

  • We need to be leaders worth following.

Comment

Doxology and Theology - Friday Morning Highlights

Comment

Doxology and Theology - Friday Morning Highlights

I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be here in beautiful (and freezing!) Kentucky at the Southern Baptist Seminary for the Doxology and Theology Conference.  Here's a Friday morning summary... 

Session 1 - Mike Cosper (if you haven't checked out his book Rhythms of Grace...you really should!) pointed out that the current cultural milieu (the 'water that we swim in') of immanence and "disenchantment" is in so many ways contrary to the transcendent and "enchanted" reality of God's Kingdom.  It seems that transcendence is off somewhere above the ceiling, and history and depth and rootedness is under the floor, so we find ourselves stuck in a room of immanence - where what matters is the now, the observable, the programs and solutions and metrics.  These are the values and ideals and realities that not only shape the cultures around us, but that also impact the way we engage with God and with each other.  But in the same way that stories and habits have shaped present this culture, we need to be telling stories and learning habits that show us the Kingdom of God, where things are more than they seem - where two copper coins are more than great riches, where to gain your life you need to lose it, where defeat is really victory.

Session 2 was three mini(ish) talks...

Mike Bleecker reminded us of the amazing gift and privilege of having God's Word, and encouraged us to fill and surround everything we do with the Word of God - both figuratively and literally - his lyric slides often have related verses at the bottom or between verses.

Keith Getty shared 3 goals for their hymn writing

  • That God's people would learn their lived faith (not just doctrine) through what they sing
  • That they would inspire the holy act of congregational singing to be just that - congregational singing!  That they would write songs that would blow you away, not just have 'singable melodies'.
  • That they would be hymns that we might carry with us throughout our lives

Third up was Harold Best.  I'd like to share with you what Harold shared...but there's no way I could do him justice!  I'll post it up when it comes available, and then you'll see what I mean.

More coming soon...#

Read the highlights from Thursday night...

Comment

Some thoughts from Dox&Theo Thurs night

Comment

Some thoughts from Dox&Theo Thurs night

So right now I'm in Kentucky at the Doxology and Theology conference.  I'm going to try and keep giving quick updates as we go - but you can always stream in as well at

Last night we heard from Don Carson on John 4, and Paul Tripp from Col 3.  I'll need to go back over my notes from Don's talk, but here's a few quick thoughts and challenges from Paul...

The danger of idolatry is never more present than in moments of the supposed worship of God

  • We're all hardwired to seek, but it is also that we have life in its fulness already in God (Col 3:3-4)
  • Therefore it is an act of Gospel amnesia for a believer to seek life - identity, affirmation, validation - anywhere else
  • Our leadership of corporate worship will either affirm the fullness of life we have in Christ, or reveal we are  gospel amnesiacs.  What does my heart seek in the midst of serving in worship ministry?

Some 'things above' that we are to seek.

  • Gods glory - there is NO glory for us in this.  To take glory is to be a glory thief.
  • Grace - we need the rescuing grace of Christ as much today as ever.
  • Redemption - everything we do is as ambassadors of the redeemer
  • Kingdom - we are building a kingdom...but who's?!

 

Comment

Oxygen 2014 Song List

Comment

Oxygen 2014 Song List

One of the reasons that God has given us music and exhorts us to sing together is that it both expresses and encourages our unity in the Gospel - and the singing at Oxygen 2014 definitely did that for me!  But it is also so the "message about the Messiah may dwell richly among us" (Col 3:16) - so we were keen to select songs that you might take with you to your churches.  So here's a list of the songs we sung at Oxygen, with the keys we did them in, and where you can go to find resources for your team - just click on the headings or artwork.  Also, can I suggest grabbing the KCC app - you can download the main talks...and lots more to come!


Sovereign Grace Music

With Bob Kauflin on board, it was natural that we featured quite a few Sovereign Grace songs...some which would have been familiar to most of us, but some that you may not have come across before - "Shine into our night" had to be one of my favourites!

Click on the title above or the artwork below to get to their website. They've just updated their music website...its probably the best featured search site I've come across, and each song page has everything you could ever want...in multiple keys!

If you're looking for more articles and teaching from Bob, go to www.worshipmatters.com

Songs and Key

All Creatures of our God and King - C

Before the Throne of God Above - C - D

Behold the Lamb - C

Glorious Christ - G

Jesus, Thank You - G

Let Your Kingdom Come - G

My Redeemers Love - C

O Great God - C - D

Shine Into Our Night - E

Show us Christ - Bb


www.worshiptogether.com

Worship Together is the website for artists on the EMI label - including Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin and Hillsong.  As well as being able to search, listen and download charts, they've got plenty of articles and video to check out.

Songs and Key

10,000 Reasons - D

Amazing Grace - D

Here I Am To Worship - E

How Deep The Father's Love - E

How Marvellous - E

In Christ Alone - D - E

Man of Sorrows - C

This I Believe - G


Songs and Key

No Other Name - Bb

You are the Way - C

You can find a demo and charts for "You are the Way" on my Patreon page - and you can also help me devote time to writing new songs by becoming a patron yourself!


Songs and Key

No Other Name - Bb

We Belong ToThe Day - E




Hymns

The arrangement of the other hymns were original to the Oxygen band - we might see if we can some recordings up sometime...but in the meantime, here's the keys we did them in.

 

Songs

Be Thou My Vision - D - E

Holy Holy Holy - Bb - C

How Great Thou Art - Ab - Bb

The Solid Rock (My Hope) - D - E

Rock of Ages - G

 

Listen to Oxygen songs on Spotify

Comment

Oxygen 2014

Comment

Oxygen 2014

It was such a privilege to serve at the Oxygen 2014 Conference.  Loved working with this team (legends!)...and it was SO GOOD to have Julie and Bob Kauflin join us!  And for those who were there singing with us...thanks for making such a joyful noise!  Also, thanks to the CityAlight for some great new songs (check them out if you haven't already) and giving us a night off!

But more importantly, it was humbling, joyful time of looking away from ourselves and beholding Jesus.  If you weren't able to make it, you should definitely get the KCC app, and have a listen to some of the talks...any of them...you can't really go wrong! 

I'll blog some more once I've recovered a bit...after RICE Rally and Overflow!

Comment

Songs for around a hospital bed...

Comment

Songs for around a hospital bed...

A few people have noticed a recent tweet from Kevin DeYoung...

Kevin put this challenge to us at the Sovereign Grace WorshipGod Conference last year in a sermon from 2 Cor 4 about being faithful to prepare...prepare people in our churches for suffering and death by pointing to the "absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory" that lies ahead of us.  If this question has challenged you as well, can I suggest listening to the rest of the talk.  (The rest of the talks are great as well...you can find them all linked here)  It impacted me deeply, and I really wanted to respond with some songs that might play this role.

At the end of his talk, he quoted the first point of the Heidelberg confession - it seem to be the perfect framework for such a song...

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
— Heidelberg Catechism - Q & A 1

Who is our strength?

Verse 1

Who is our strength, our comfort sure? 

Who in the shadows will sustain?

Our only hope in life and death

Is that our Saviour's love remains

For through His blood He satisfied

Our every debt of shame and sin

So now our lives are not our own

But heart and soul are Christ our King's

Verse 2

No condemnation now we fear

The lies of Satan hold no power

Though once enslaved by sins deceit

The righteousness of Christ now ours

No height or depth, nor life or death

Can separate us from his love

And not a hair fall from our heads

Outside the will of God above

Verse 3

Come, Holy Spirit, breathe within

Assure us of eternal life

The rich inheritance prepared

For the beloved bride of Christ

Until that day, when You return

Come to redeem those whom you own

Renew our minds, restore our souls

So we may live for You alone

Until that day, with all the saved

We fall in awe before your throne

Renew our minds, restore our souls

So we may live for You alone

Who is our strength? Copyright © Trevor Hodge 2014 www.trevorhodgemusic.com 

You can find the words and charts free to download on my Patreon page - just click below.

 
Visit the Patreon creation page to download charts, words and find out more about becoming a Patron.

Visit the Patreon creation page to download charts, words and find out more about becoming a Patron.

 

Comment

Poetry and Psalm 88 - some extra links and resources

Comment

Poetry and Psalm 88 - some extra links and resources

It was a privilege to preach from Psalm 88 this morning at Kirkplace.  One of the 'gifts' of the Psalms is that there are prayers and songs for every season in our lives.  Psalm 88 is a disturbing scripture...it draws you into the "dark night of the soul" of the writer...where everything is collapsing around them and God seems not only far away, but also responsible for their suffering  How can we engage with, and find comfort in, such a hopeless Psalms?  You can listen to the talk here

But here are some further resources that might help you if you'd like to explore these issues more.

I found Walter Bruggemann's books on the Psalms incredibly helpful in understanding the role of the Psalms in our lives, and particularly in understanding how we might engage with the language and poetry of lament.

"I think that serious religious use of the complaint psalms has been minimal because we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity. We have thought that acknowledgment of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith, as though the very speech about it conceded too much about God's "loss of control."

"I think that serious religious use of the complaint psalms has been minimal because we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity. We have thought that acknowledgment of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith, as though the very speech about it conceded too much about God's "loss of control."

"Metaphors are not packaged announcements; they are receptive vehicles waiting for a whole world of experience that is itself waiting to come to expression. And if, in the praying of the Psalms, we do not bring the dynamic of our own experience, we shall have flat, empty prayers treating the language as one-dimensional description."

"Metaphors are not packaged announcements; they are receptive vehicles waiting for a whole world of experience that is itself waiting to come to expression. And if, in the praying of the Psalms, we do not bring the dynamic of our own experience, we shall have flat, empty prayers treating the language as one-dimensional description."

In the sermon, we discussed how poetry not only allows it to fill the text with our feelings and experiences...but it can also deliver to us fresh and unfamiliar experiences and emotions.  I mentioned a couple of 'spoken word performances that did just that for me - Joel's is posted below.  There's another piece that I mentioned that I've decided not to post here - it's as devastating as Joel's is hope filled...and not something you want to stumble across unprepared...feel free to ask me about it. 

Here's the song we listened to near the end as we reflected again on the Psalm...I really appreciate how 'The Brilliance' dwell on themes and scriptures that aren't often found in contemporary worship music.  I've also attached a couple of lament Psalms songs I've worked on...

The Psalmist felt like they were alone in their struggles.  Each of us needs to look out for those around us...and to step into the messiness of life together when we need to.  But sometimes you might need some more help or guidance in dealing with grief, sorrow or depression.  You can call the Presbyterian Counselling Services on 1800 818 133 (free call) or find out more on the Jericho Road website.

Comment