SCEFC Set List: May 15, 2011

In the chaos of the spring research season it is nice to have a task free of experimental units, with no need for randomization or replication. This coming Sunday I am leading the music at State College E-Free Church. The transition from science to song is welcome.

As I put together the set list I spent time thinking about longing. I thought about what it means to see God’s work–in creation and in other people–and to respond to it. To long to understand and know more fully what wisdom is. To be aware of my weakness and shallowness. After putting together this list I found out the message will be focusing on faith, the passage in I Corinthians where Paul writes of presenting the Gospel in simplicity. I think it works well with the content of the songs.

Prelude: (G) Unashamed Love – Lamont Hiebert

Worthiness is troubling. Too often I chase things that are not worthy of my devotion, while neglecting those that are. I’m called to worship God with my life because He is worthy of that level of devotion. Difficulties or insecurities I face are not a valid excuse. May I offer honest and unashamed praise.

Song #1: (E) For the Beauty of the Earth – Folliot S. Pierpoint

Grateful praise, what a powerful response. Some days I am overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds me. Sadly, many days I am oblivious.

Song #2: (A) God You Reign – Lincoln Bewster | Mia Fieldes

The awesomeness of God is humbling. He rules over the stars and knows my heart. In the majesty of creation I should be pointed toward the Father.

Song #3: (C) HungryKathryn Scott

I’ve been thinking about hunger. I want to be spiritually hungry; the healthy kind of hunger that comes from pure desires. It bothers me how easily I am distracted by other things.

Song #4: (E) Be Thou My Vision – Dallan Forgaill | Eleanor Henrietta Hull | Mary Elizabeth Byrne

I love this song because it is a cry for help. I need help with vision and wisdom; I need to be reminded of the promises that are mine in Christ.

I am contemplating making a lyric adjustment in this song. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it; I suspect I will write a future post about gender exclusion in worship songs and how it should be handled. The part that gets me in this song is the line: “I Thy true son.” This song was written by a fifth century monk, so in context it makes sense. But I’m not using the song at a monastery; I’m using the song at a service where half the congregation are daughters, not sons. I plan to think about it a bit more and get a few more opinions before making a decision, if I do not reach a verdict I’ll cut the entire verse (I like the first half of the verse in question, so I am trying to save it).

Song #5: (E) Be the Center – Michael Frye

In I Corinthians Paul writes about knowing nothing but the Gospel. Christ crucified and  raised from the dead. When Jesus is the center of who I am there is a ripple effect in all areas of my life.

Closing Song: (D) In Christ Alone – Stuart Townend | Keith Getty

The closing song is a reflection on the Gospel. It’s a good way to end the formal service.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. Leading corporate music always encourages me.

This Sunday I’ll have a back up guitar for the first time since I started leading music at SCEFC. I bought a Dean Exotica Zebra Wood electric acoustic guitar this week (the guitar will get its own post soon). My playing technique has evolved to a point where I rarely break strings (the last string I broke was about five years ago*), but being without a back up guitar made me nervous because most of my arrangements are guitar-centric.

*I am now guaranteed to break a string this Sunday. Book it.

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8 Comments

Filed under Music, Spiritual, Worship Leading

8 responses to “SCEFC Set List: May 15, 2011

  1. For what it’s worth, I would support an adjustment to the “Be Thou My Vision” line you referred to.

    • The song uses rhyming couplets, with some slant rhymes included. This means I can rhyme the third line with the fourth line “won” or re-write lines three and four entirely.

      The alternate lyric I am considering is “To Thee I run.” I love the idea of looking at God like a young child looks at a parent. He is my protector. He does not leave me, yet I am prone to attempt to strike out on my own. The verse would look like this:

      Be Thou my wisdom; be Thou my true word.
      I ever with Thee, and Thou with me Lord.
      Thou my great Father; to Thee I run.
      Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

  2. Adam

    Something to consider on that “true son” lyric – it may be referring not merely to the sense in which we are all “children of God” but very specifically to the biblical language about the Son of God. Jesus used that title of himself but it doesn’t primarily imply his deity (although it does), but mostly his status as the righteous man who fulfills what the first man did not. The title “son of god” was usually appropriated by the king to designate that he was the authorized ruler in place of the local deity; the Bible uses that same term to communicate both that Adam (and all humanity) were intended to be God’s image, ruling and reigning over his creation as his authorized “vice-regent,” and also that, after humanity fell, Jesus was the true Son of God who fulfilled that role perfectly.

    As a result, then, we who are united by faith in Christ are considered not just “children/sons of God” as in 1 John 3, for example, but actually when God looks at us, he sees “His True Son.” I don’t know if that was the intention behind the lyric when it was written; it is hard to tell from the rest of the song. But, it might be a good opportunity to point to the gospel in discussing why all of us, regardless of our gender, are in one sense considered God’s True Son, since he sees the righteousness of Jesus when he looks at us. (This would be the same principle at play as if a song proclaimed our identity as the bride of Christ – a feminine metaphor for a corporate identity that does not in any way impinge or override the male-ness of the men who might sing it.)

    On an only tangential note, if you’re interested at all in the whole “Son of God” issue as it relates to Bible translation in the Muslim world, I’d commend this article. It’s really pretty fascinating: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/article_print.html?id=90867

    • Thanks for the comment Adam.
      I’ve been struggling over this because when I sing the song myself I really like the “true son” line. While I think it has value, I do not think the original author had deeper meaning in mind. The first translation did not even have the word true in it: “Be thou my father, be I thy son.” I think it is just reflection of the context it was written in, a personal poem for monks and not a congregational song. (As an aside, I suspect sixth century monks on island monasteries–like Dallan Forgaill–spent considerable time trying not to think about women.) Eleanor Hull versified the song for congregational singing about 1300 years after it was written and added the word true, it makes me wonder if she was thinking along the lines you mentioned.
      I have no problem identifying myself as part of the collective bride of Christ, but it seems different to me for a woman to identify herself as a son (I’ve gotten mixed responses when I ask women how they feel about this idea). I see a difference between the corporate identity (bride) and the individual (son) identity.
      I ask myself a simple question: does the line “I Thy true son” provide more truth or distraction when it is used in congregational singing?

  3. Adam, I am encouraged by your insight.

    Ben, if you decide to keep the original lyrics with Adam’s thoughts in mind, it might be worth a brief discussion/explanation as to the possible/intended inclusive meaning of the line before singing. I know that I, as a lay person, have found myself distracted/discouraged by lines such as these (which are tough for me not to take at face value as exclusive) and I would personally be very appreciative to hear that the worship leader/pastor/etc. is mindful when including what appears to be gender-specific language. I am guessing that I am not the only one, either!

    • Sometimes I wish the congregation had a time before the song set started to talk through the lyrical content. As a leader it is tough to know how much to say. Plus, at SCEFC everyone walks in late, and many of those that are present do not appear to be paying any attention to the opening comments.

  4. Bernie

    The Hymnal, A Worship Book compiled by churches in the “Believers Church Tradition” Mennonite & Brethren have changed the lyrics to
    Be Thou my wisdom, be thou my true word;
    I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
    Thou my great Father, thy child may I be,
    thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.”

    I think that some of the poetic beauty of the original lyrics is lost in this adaptation but it does deal with the gender exclusivity issues. I am not highly sensitive to inclusive language since I grew up with these ancient lyrics, love them and mentally adapt them to fit me as a woman. Some of the younger generation may not perform these mental gymnastics or may take offense…it’s a tough call.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have that same hymnal and I failed to notice the adapted lyrics.
      I decided to use adapted lyrics at SCEFC tomorrow. I’m curious to see if it is even noticed. We don’t sing hymns frequently at SCEFC, so I don’t know how well people know the lyrics.

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