Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

This a song for your next men's bible study. For those who truly believe that worship is warfare, here is "The Son of God Goes Forth to War." This version is a different tune than the one found in the Trinity Hymnal. This tune is called Greyoaks and was written by Gregory Wilbur (I think).

      Em                        C         D       Em        D          Em
The Son of God goes forth to war, A kingly crown to gain;
      Em                         C         D             Em     D          B
His blood red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train?
Em     D         G/B        A       Em         G             B     Em
Who best can drink his cup of woe, Triumphant over pain,
         Em                      D      A              G            B    Em
Who patient bears his cross below, He follows in His train.

         Em                         C      D              Em           D         Em
That martyr first, whose eagle eye Could pierce beyond the grave;
        Em                  C         D            Em           D        B
Who saw his Master in the sky, And called on Him to save.
Em     D            G/B    A          Em           G            B       Em
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue, In midst of mortal pain,
       Em                          D            A                G            B    Em
He prayed for them that did the wrong: Who follows in His train?

      Em                        C       D           Em           D      Em
A glorious band, the chosen few On whom the Spirit came;
              Em                         C               D               Em              D            B
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, And mocked the cross and flame.
Em    D          G/B          A           Em           G       B     Em
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, The lion’s gory mane;
         Em                                D         A              G            B    Em
They bowed their heads the death to feel: Who follows in their train?

    Em              C            D              Em     D          Em
A noble army, men and boys, The matron and the maid,
   Em                         C         D             Em        D          B
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice, In robes of light arrayed.
Em     D               G/B        A       Em                        G     B         Em
They climbed the steep ascent of Heav’n, Through peril, toil and pain;
    Em                      D          A              G            B   Em
O God, to us may grace be given, To follow in their train.

I find that most men have trouble singing the high note on the word "Who" in the third line. Because of this, I have posted the first verse below in the key of D minor; one whole step down.

      Dm                        Bb        C       Dm       C          Dm
The Son of God goes forth to war, A kingly crown to gain;
      Dm                        Bb         C             Dm     C          A
His blood red banner streams afar: Who follows in His train?
Dm     C         F/A        G       Dm         F             A     Dm
Who best can drink his cup of woe, Triumphant over pain,
         Dm                      C      G              F            A    Dm
Who patient bears his cross below, He follows in His train.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hospitality and Church Growth

My church shut down recently. That's right, we had to close the doors because our numbers dwindled down to nearly nothing. In fact, during the last few years of my church's existence, the greatest attendance we ever had was no more than six families. Thankfully, most of these families were large, so the numbers didn't feel that small.

We couldn't figure out why our church wouldn't grow. We were foolish enough to think that if we faithfully preached the word and worshipped biblically that God would not let us fail; He would grow our church. That didn't happen.

Now, I know why. Like most Presbyterians, our favorite things to do were to lounge around after our Lord's Day lunch (we had lunch together at the church every Sunday) and try to solve the problems of the world. This would lead to in depth discussions ranging from public education to libertarianism; and others ranging from baptism to eschatology. We had it all figured out. The problem was nobody in our city cared.

It's been six months and I now know why nobody cared. While we were so busy trying to bring in the Kingdom of God, we forgot to love and be hospitable to our visitors. I'm sure the conversations we were having seemed like a version of lunacy to the visiting Methodist or Baptist family. It would have been appropriate to swallow our intellectual pride and talk about the things in which they were interested.

Over the past several months, because I have visited so many churches, God has opened my eyes to the importance of hospitality. I have felt the sting of inhospitality and I have felt the warmth of loving, hospital people. I encourage you to practice hospitality; and not just to your friends. Invite that new guy, the one who is sheepishly standing in the corner of the sanctuary, into your home for lunch. That is how we show God's love to God's people.

The Old 95th

Here's the chord charts to one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 95C in the Book of Psalms for Singing. The presbyterian church I used to go to would sing this song vibrantly and with gusto. This is how it ought to be song. This is a warfare Psalm so it must feel warlike and resurrectional.

        Em     Am         Bm  Em                             F#        Bm
Come let us sing unto the Lord! Let us in honor shout for joy

     Am                     (D)       Bm   Em    G                           A      D

To Him the rock of our sal – va – tion.   O let us enter His presence

            Em                    A      G   F#   G                           Am           Bm Em
With thanksgiving with joy – ful song, O let us sing with psalms un – to Him

    Em         Am         Bm   Em                             F#        Bm
Because the Lord is a great God, a mighty King above all gods.
        Am                     (D)     Bm     Em   G                                    A D
The depths of earth are at His fing – ers;   He owns the highest of mountains
      Em                A     G    F#  G                                    Am      Bm  Em
The sea is His for He made it.   His hands have fashioned all the dry land.

        Em     Am               Bm   Em                                  F#    Bm
Come let us worship and bow down; Let us before our maker kneel,
   Am                      D      Bm  Em    G                                A   D
Before the Lord for He is our God.   We people are of His pasture,
        Em                     A     G     F#   G                       Am           Bm  Em
The chosen flock He tends with care. Oh if today you would hear His voice.

          Em              Am               Bm  Em                                F#   Bm
God’s voice says, “Don’t stiffen your heart the way you did at Meribah,
   Am                 D       Bm   Em    G                                A      D
A time of testing in the des - ert.   Your fathers tested my patience;
        Em                         A    G    F#      G                               Am  Bm Em
They tried Me with their dis–con–tent, though witnessing the wonders I did

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St Patrick's Breastplate

In a hope to reform modern church music, I want to make available a handful of Psalms and hymns to which I have figured out chords. Please feel free to correct any mistakes in the comments section. Look for future posts for future songs.

I honor of St Patrick's Day my first post will be the great hymn written by the man himself. There are several different translations of this song; this is the one I usually use.

     Em    Bm        Em       G         Am                         G   D

We bind unto ourselves today the strong Name of the Trinity,

      C   Bm    Em     Am            G         D           Em
By invocation of the same the Three in One and One in Three.
       G                        D                 Em                    G       D
Our rock and tower, God of God, eternal Father, Spirit, Word
       C          Bm         Em            C           G      D      Em
We claim the name of grace and might: Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

  Em  Bm     Em        G              Am                         G      D
Immanuel, incarnate Lord, from Mary’s womb was given breath,
         C       Bm        Em       Am            G         D          Em
Was baptized in the Jordan’s ford, and gave His life to conquer death.
       G                       D                           Em                G         D
He rose triumphant from the tomb, was lifted to the Father’s throne
      C          Bm               Em          C             G          D    Em
To come on God’s dread day and doom and bring salvation for His own.

     Em        Bm        Em       G            Am                      G          D
By faith we claim his grace today: the power of God to hold and lead,
       C       Bm            Em       Am         G         D      Em
His eye to watch, His might to stay, his ear to hearken to our need;
          G                   D                        Em                           G         D
The wisdom of out God to teach; His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
        C        Bm        Em        C                  G        D      Em
The word of God to give us speech, His heavenly host to be our guard.

Church Music and the Closing of the Mind

I was reminded today that the modern church is not good for our children. Maybe that's a bit too strong. The modern church is not the best for our children because Modernity is not the best for our children. In my choir class this morning I introduced an arrangement of "Be Thou My Vision." It's written in three voices (SAB) with the soprano voice carrying, you guessed it, the melody. Because of this, I chose to focus my attention on the tougher and less known Alto and Bass parts, the parts that will sing the rich harmonies. To my astonishment, I quickly discovered that the Sopranos did not know their part. A few of them had never heard the song before.

This is not their fault. They have been raised in a modern evangelical church, and the modern church is usually hostile to anything over ten years old. That's unfortunate and leads to to a dumbing down of Christianity. I am a firm believer in "you are what you sing." What do our children know musically? Modernity has done a great job of stripping down the church and relegating it to the sphere of self. Therefore, most Christians only know songs about themselves. I ask again, what can our children sing? They might be able to sing CCM tunes like Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman. These songs are fine, but they are not good enough if we want to raise a generation of warriors who will grow up to wage holy warfare on the dragon.

Too often churches take a stance of "if it ain't broke don't fix it." This is especially true of the music, bit it's not a matter of broken or fixed. God calls us to maturation, and our church music ought to reflect it as well. As much as I like a handful of CCM songs, I want my children to grow up with a rich tradition of psalmnody and hymnody. And when their high school choir director pulls out a piece by Isaac Watts or JS Bach, they can respond with, "Of course I know it, I learned it when I was 6."