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» A Sermon on "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"

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As part of Northbrook's on-going hymn memory project, I taught through Joachim Neander's hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" this past Sunday, as I exposited Psalm 103.

In this sermon, I made five observations about what David's psalm tells us about the worship of the Lord and how Neander's hymn illustrates those points.

You can find the sermon, along with the others in the series, through the link below:
Praise to the Lord -- Exhorting Ourselves to Adore the Lord

» Hymns for Private and Family Worship

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Back in the fall of 2008, our church self-published a little hymnal for our own use. I'd like to share the contents of that hymnal to kick off a series of articles on the importance of family worship. Here is the preface to our little hymnal titled "Hymns for Private and Family Worship" with the general contents (not the lyrics to each song) at the end.

About Hymns
What is a hymn? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a religious song of praise, especially a Christian song in praise of God. In the proper sense of the term, all songs that we sing to or about God should be called hymns. In modern parlance, however, we often use the term hymn to refer to a strophic song (every verse uses the same tune) with a common rhyming scheme (called meter) normally set to traditional (non-syncopated) tunes. Hymn texts and tunes can either be historic or modern. They typically contain numerous verses (each of which contains several lines) therefore develop theological concepts and devotional thoughts more deeply than other forms of modern praise songs.

Apart from Scripture itself, hymns... (continue reading...)

» Samuel Medley

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(From Joseph Belcher's Historical Sketches of Hymns, Their Writers, and Their Influence)

Samuel Medley (1738-99)

Rev. Samuel Medley was pastor of the First Baptist Church at Liverpool, England, for twenty-seven years, during which time he also regularly preached at Whitefield's Tabernacle and Tottenham Court Road Chapel, in London. In early life Mr. Medley was very gay and profane. He was engaged in the British navy, where he was severely wounded in one of the several actions in which he fought. Returning to his pious grandfather's house for the sake of surgical attendance, he was brought under the preaching of the excellent Whitefield and Dr. Giiford, and was soon led to the Saviour whose name he had so often blasphemed. He died, after a very successful ministry, in 1799, aged sixty-one years. In the year following his death, a volume of original hymns from his pen was issued, very few of which are now valued. He also published two or three sermons, and several humorous papers. He was eccentric in his manners, but had a pious soul and a noble heart.

» Evaluating Songs for Congregational Singing

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I'm going to be listening to and evaluating (whether formally or casually) a lot of songs written for congregational singing soon. To prepare for that I've been keeping some notes about various ways to evaluate songs. It's always a good idea to solicit feedback and think critically about our work and the work of others if it is done in a spirit of love and humility. We want our songs to be the best that they can be, both lyrically and musically. This involves a life-long pursuit of growing in the craft of songwriting.

So here's my list of categories so far with minimal description. These reflect some of my values for congregational singing like the participation of all, theological depth, application to all, etc. I don't believe that every song that we use must excel in all of these areas (except in having Biblical lyrics!), but my hope is that the song diet of my local church as a whole would rate well in all of these categories.

Rate each on a scale of 1-5, 1=Poor / 2=Needs Improvement / 3=Neutral or N/A / 4=Good / 5=Excellent

Music(continue reading...)

» Songs for the 2009 Redeemer Pastor's Conference

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On Monday I'll be attending and leading singing at the 2009 Redeemer Conference for Pastors. The theme of the conference is The Minister's Fainting Fits: Depression and Discouragement in Pastoral Ministry and we are honored to have Ed Welch along with our pastor, R. W. Glenn share with us from God's Word.

So far it looks like we will have a fairly diverse group of pastors or other leaders (like small group leaders), a large percentage who have never attended one of our conferences before. Choosing music for a conference can be tricky. Since the men attending will be from disparate churches I wanted to ensure that they would know a large portion of songs. To do that I chose 40% traditional hymns (texts and tunes). Another 40% are songs that will probably be new to many and have a more classical (less syncopated) tune, either old or new hymn texts. The remaining 20% are more contemporary songs or arrangements of hymns.

My friend and fellow songwriter Eric Schumacher will be joining us. We finished a song titled When Sorrow Comes especially for this conference. The abundance of... (continue reading...)

» New Piano Arrangement for By Grace Alone

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I just wanted to let you all know that I replaced the Piano Score for By Grace Alone with a brand new version. It is a slightly more simplified arrangement that is on two staves instead of three and fits on one page. This is one of our most well-known songs and we pray that God will use this song, this arrangement, and most importantly the gospel of God's grace through Jesus Christ in this song, for His glory!

» A Sermon on "Crown Him with Many Crowns"

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My sermon on Revelation 19, explaining the imagery of "Crown Him with Many Crowns," is now online here.

» A Sermon on “Before the Throne of God Above”

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My teaching through Charitie Lees Bancroft's hymn, "Before the Throne of God Above," is now available here.

» A Sermon on “Amazing Grace”

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Last Sunday, my sermon outline was John Newton's hymn "Faith's Review and Expectation" (which we know as Amazing Grace).

Find out why, here.

» John Fawcett

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(From "Library of Christian Hymns" by Dahle)

John Fawcett, Baptist preacher of England, was born January 6, 1739 (or 1740), in Lidget Green, near Bradford, Yorkshire. At the age of 16 he came under the influence of Whitefield and joined the Methodists, but three years later he became a member of the Baptist church of Bradford. In 1765 he was ordained to the ministry and was installed in the Baptist congregation of Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later, in 1772, he was called to London to succeed the famous Dr. J. Gills of Carter’s Lane. He accepted the call. After delivering his farewell sermon to the congregation at Wainsgate, six loads of household goods were brought up near the church preparatory to his leaving for London. But the congregation was not ready to bid him farewell. Men, women, and children thronged about their pastor and his family and wept. Fawcett and his wife also were moved to tears at the sight. Finally his wife said, “O John, I cannot endure this; I do not understand how we can leave this place.” “No, you are right,” he replied, “neither shall we leave.” Then all their belongings were unpacked and put... (continue reading...)

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