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Posts Tagged ‘hymns’

5.5. This post is dedicated to my old roommate, JP.  He’s an Arizona Wildcat fan, and I’m a UConn fan.  Our teams play each other in the Elite Eight on Saturday, so it’s probably just as well that we aren’t roommates anymore.  That, and we’re both married with kids now, and that would be awkward living together…

5. Nick Norelli reviews Sean McDonough’s (coughgogordonconwellcough) new book, Christ as Creator.  I took McDonough’s Life of Jesus class, so I heard some of his early thoughts on Christ as creator in the gospels.  Looks like a fascinating read.  Now if we can do something about that ridiculous price…

4. Keith & Kristyn Getty (of “In Christ Alone” fame) are offering three free hymns for download on their site, until March 31 (I think). 

3. The incomparable Marcus has given some helpful thoughts on how to build a theological library– and he’s not talking about making bookshelves.  There’s some good advice here.  Or you could do what my coblogger, Brian, does and wait until your friends move and “borrow” their books. 

2. Brian and I were discussing the other day how the Minor Prophets are perhaps the least preached on portion of Scripture.  In his last post, Brian links to a sermon where he tackles a passage in Micah.  Cousin Jeremy has also been posting sermons from his church in Syracuse, starting with sermon series from Hosea and MicahUpdate: A couple hours after I posted this, Cousin Jeremy posted some sermons from Amos.  In fact, he went ahead and made a central location for any more sermon series he will be posting, so you may want to bookmark it. 

1. Speaking of preaching, I commend to you Tom Schreiner’s sermons from his church, Clifton Baptist, in KY.  He’s been doing a series on Romans for a while now (I think he’s up to 29 sermons and he’s only through chapter 7).  You can find a number of other sermon series he’s done, such as Revelation (which I think I’ve linked to before), James, Galatians, etc.

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I’d like to recommend a couple relatively new worship albums.  One, that I heard about only recently, is by Phil Wickham that you can download for free(!) off his website.  Apparently this album has been out for some time, and I’m just late to the game.  That’s not surprising, since I don’t really keep up with all of the latest worship (to be honest, I don’t know how anyone finds the time to keep up with the massive production of worship albums).  This album has a mix of Wickham songs (I knew a couple from church) and some hymns.  I highly recommend it.

Another is one I mentioned a while back put out by Bob Kauflin from the Together for the Gospel 2008 conference.  For the month of February Sovereign Grace Ministries is selling the cd for only $6, or you can download the album for $9.  I recommend you take advantage of the sale while you can.  This cd is a collection of hymns, both old and new, done in a fairly straightforward manner (though you may not love Kauflin’s periodic interjections: “yes!”, “all our sin!”, but I’ll leave that to your personal preference).

But the real reason I’m recommending these worship albums is that they share a similarity that is unique amidst the myriad worship albums released this days: congregational singing.  Both of these albums feature a simple “band”: the worship leader and his instrument (Wickham and his guitar, Kauflin and his piano), and the voices of crowds singing along.  There is no back up band, no guitar solos, no frills.  A man, his instrument and the voices of the gathered redeemed.

It’s telling that such an approach is novel in today’s worship.  Worship has become a highly produced business, complete with tours featuring smoke machines and lazer light shows.  It’s interesting (to me, at least) that even in live worship albums, you only hear the crowd singing at certain points.  But in Wickham’s and Kauflin’s offering, the masses truly carry the day.  Sure, you hear Wickham and Kauflin, but they aren’t the stars of the show.

As I’ve listened to these as I’m working, I’ve had to stop quite a few times because I was powerfully moved by the voices of the crowds (3000 in the case of Wickham, 5000+ for Kauflin) singing praises to God.  I have to admit, I rarely stop working and get on my knees in worship, but have done that while listening to both of these.

Of course, I’m not anti-worship band.  I certainly am moved by the worship at our church (featuring world class drummer and my co-blogger, Brian).  If I didn’t want to hear a band, I’d find a different church.  That isn’t the issue.  But I do wonder if we’ve become dependent on worship bands.  Do we need a power packed band to lead us to a place that we feel like we’re worshipping?  Have we lost the simplicity of letting our voices be our main instrument of praise?

Anyway, I hope you take the opportunity to get ahold of these albums (hey, the price is right) and see what you think.  I encourage you to listen to the voices of those singing together in worship.  It might just give you a small glimpse of what it was like for John to hear the masses singing God’s praises in Revelation.

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Get Yourself Some Hymns

We here at BBG have hardly kept it a secret that we love hymns.  In fact, if you look under our worship links to the right, you’ll find them to be hymn-heavy.  So I wanted to take a moment to let you in on some hymn news that I’ve run across in the last few weeks.

First, you can check out the live worship from the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference.  The music is pretty simple: Bob Kauflin on the piano, the voices of the attendees carrying the powerful words of worship.  You can download 3 songs for free right now (Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Jesus Paid It All, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name).  The other 16 songs will be released sometime next month.  Check it out here

Second, and staying in the Sovereign Grace network, Covenant Life Church in Maryland has released a cd of hymns entitled How Sweet the Sound.  Good news- you can pay whatever you want for it.  Don’t believe me?  See for yourself.

Lastly, Sojourn Music has been working on a 2-disc project based on Isaac Watts’ hymns.  You can keep up with the latest on their blog, but also check out videos of the recording process here.  So, if you’re interested not only in hymns but in the work that goes into an album, you might enjoy these.

Anyway, there you go.  I hope you enjoy these little treasures that only the internet can provide.

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I’d like to venture out of my comfort zone of book geekery for a moment to review a worship album released last year by Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.  Though I love music, I don’t know much about the intricacies; I don’t recognize many of the important things the trained ear will notice (Brian is the trained musician of BBG), nor am I really a great judge of poetical quality, though I’d like to think I know a bit more about that.  My friend A-Rock reviews music for PopMatters, and he uses words like “sublime” or “transcendent”, whereas I’m more prone to use “cool” or “wicked awesome.”  Alas, here we go.

 

I ventured upon Sojourn’s album, Before the Throne, earlier this year and have joyfully  weaved it into my regular rotation of worship.  The album consists of 10 songs written by Sojourn members, and 1 great hymn, “Before the Throne of God Above”.  While much of modern worship would probably be classified as “pop” musically, this album has a rootsy-folk feel, incorporating other styles such as a little rock (“My Maker and My King”) and a jazzy Norah Jones-esque tune (“I’m Coming Back”). 

 

There are two things that set this album apart from most of what I’ve heard in recent years.  First, the lyrical quality is very high, and not just the hymn.  “In the Shadow of Your Glorious Cross” is the kind of song that can excite even the most ardent hymnophile, including yours truly.  “I’m Coming Back” and “All I Have Is Yours” are two fabulous tracks, as are “Lead Us Back” and “There Is a Peace.”  You can check out the lyrics on the Before the Throne Page.

 

Second, I noticed that this album incorporates a number of themes, only to find out later that Sojourn intentionally used a liturgical format for this album (see the comments here).  Thus, it incorporates lament & confession (“Lead Us Back”, which I’ve written about on my previous blog), a communion tune (“All I Have Is Yours”), a benediction (“All Good Gifts”), etc.  You don’t have to be aware of this to enjoy it, but it helped me appreciate all the more how much thought went into this album.  With so many albums these days feeling like a collection of disconnected radio-friendly singles, I feel like this is the kind of album that could benefit a church seeking to have a well-rounded repertoire of worship songs. 

 

As for critiques, I suppose the one thing I can think of is that a couple of the songs seem like they’d be difficult for congregational singing (“My Maker and My King” and “Evergreen”), though I’ve been wrong about that in the past.

 

I couldn’t recommend this album highly enough.  The songs “In the Shadow of Your Glorious Cross” and “Lead Us Back” are #s 1 and 2 Most Played on my iTunes, and their version of “Before the Throne of God Above” is my favorite of recent renditions.  And in an age of celebrity worship leaders, who go on tours with laser light shows and smoke machines, I’m excited to see a church taking the time to write songs for their community.  You can download the entire album (11 songs) from iTunes for $9.99, but if you want to try it out, check out their Before the Throne Page and download the 4 songs they offer for free (I noticed that I can’t download them on my wife’s Mac, though that may be due to my technological incompetence).  While you’re there, check out the other albums they have (many more free songs!), as well as their terrific blog.  For anyone who leads worship, either in a church service or in smaller groups, their website will be an excellent resource (hence its inclusion in our “Worship” links to the right).  And for those of us who don’t lead worship, you just might learn something too.

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