In my last post I mentioned that I will be serving as the worship leader at State College E-Free Church this coming Sunday. I decided to stick with the set list I mentioned in that post. The thought running through my mind as I developed the set was our need for a Savior. In the context of the advent season I thought about Israel, what it would be like to read Isaiah 11 and wait expectantly for that day. Hosanna!
Prelude: (G) Refuge in You – Bob Stratton, Brenton Brown, & Pete Jones
Starting off with a celebratory song that looks at the shelter, safety, and refuge we have in Christ seems like a good first step. When I’m afraid or troubled, comfort and perspective are restored when I dwell on God’s love for me. A response of “I love You; I need You; You’re my saving King.” is quite natural.
Song 1: (A) Mighty to Save – Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding
This song captures the theme for the morning that was running through my mind perfectly. We need compassion and mercy. We need forgiveness and hope. So we turn to our God because He is mighty to save. I suspect the phrase “mighty to save” is taken from the Isaiah 63:1 (I looked this passage up in 14 versions of the Bible, 12 of the 14 used the exact phrase “mighty to save “). The bridge of this song talks about living in response to the glorious truth that we have been saved, letting light shine from us to glorify Christ.
Song 2: (Em) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – John Neale & Henry Coffin
Emmanuel means “God with us.” The verses speak of the fullness and restoration Christ will bring. The chorus affirms this, calls for rejoicing, as the fulfillment of these longings has begun. I enjoy the musical contrast between the verse and the begin of the chorus in this song.
Song 3: (E) Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley
The lyrics of this song are pure gold. It’s my favorite Christmas carol. I don’t even know where to start with pointing out lyrics I like, for they’re all good.One of the highlights in the first verse is: “From our sins and fears release us; let us find our rest in Thee.”
Song 4: (E) We Fall Down – Chris Tomlin
When I think about God being mighty to save, when I think about Christ being my refuge and shelter, and when I think about being delivered I tend to focus on the power that is involved. Yet Jesus came to earth in humility, a Lamb to be slaughtered. He knows what pain feels like. Faced with this mercy and grace it is difficult to be defiant or untouched.
Closing Song: (Bb) Joy to the World! – Isaac Watts
Both of the hymnals that I grew up singing from put an exclamation point* at the end of the title of this song. It is very appropriate. As was pointed out in the comments on my previous post, Isaac Watts wrote this hymn with a focus on Christ’s return based upon Psalm 98. Over time it became associated with Christmas. No matter how you choose to interpret it, I think it makes a good closing song that focuses on Christ, His presence, and the wonders of His love.
I’m looking forward to this weekend for the music practices and service.
*This prompted me to think: How old are exclamation points? Is it possible that Watts used one back in 1719 when he published this hymn? Does this hymn predate the exclamation point? According to Wikipedia the exclamation point dates back to the 15th century in English usage. I was unable to determine if Watts used one, however.