Here are some brief notes on the songs we will be singing this Lord’s Day at Christ Church.
Just a reminder we sing four hymns outside of the Lord’s Supper: an entrance hymn, one song after the confession of sin, and two songs prior to the sermon.
Entrance Hymn: Psalm 138 (With All My Heart My Thanks I’ll Bring), p. 182
This is a great song to enter into worship with. First, it has a wonderful tune. The opening song should have some pep to it. This one does.
Second, it is about thanksgiving. The very first line of the song indicates David’s purpose for writing the psalm. He wants to give thanks to God for his truth and grace. Whenever we enter God’s house we should be ready to give him thanks and praise.
Third, there is an emphasis on God’s Word. King David gives praise to God for magnifying his faithful word. Then he declares that all the kings of earth will give thanks and sing when they have heard God’s Word. Like David we enter into God’s house to hear his word and give thanks to God for the Scriptures.
Finally, David says that God “knoweth” the proud and haughty only from afar. As we enter worship, humility is needed. We come to bend the knee to God’s Word and His will. The proud are cast down in worship, but the humble repent and grow.
Hymn of Thanksgiving: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, p. 227
Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. During Advent we look back to the time before Christ was born, but we also look forward to the time when he will come again. It is a season of waiting. This hymn reflects that longing for Christ that was in the heart of every true Israelite before Jesus came and should be in our hearts too as we look for the coming of our Lord.
One cool part of this song is how each verse begins with an Old Testament name of Jesus.
Emmanuel means “God with Us” and is used in Isaiah 7:14 and quoted in Matthew 1:23.
Lord of Might is a paraphrase of one of Isaiah’s favorite names of God “Lord of Hosts.” This phrase is used 50 times in Isaiah. It means Lord of armies and refers to God’s power and might.
Rod of Jesseis found in Isaiah 11:1 in the King James Version where God promises to send a king to rule.
Dayspringmeans sunrise and probably refers to Jesus as the great coming light, which is mentioned in Isaiah 60:1, 19.
Key of Davidcomes from Isaiah 22:22 where the Lord says he will lay the Key of David on Eliakim who is a type of Christ. In 22:22 God says he will lay the keys on Eliakim’s shoulder, which points back to Isaiah 9:6 where it is said that the government will be upon Jesus’ shoulder.
The main point of the song is that the coming of Christ brings gladness and joy as all our enemies are put to flight.
Worship Song #1: Psalm 63 (O Lord, My God, Most Earnestly), p. 93
Psalm 63 is a beautiful meditation by King David on his longing for God. If you look in your Bible you will see that David wrote this psalm when he was in the wilderness of Judah fleeing from King Saul. Two verses sum up David’s love for God and God’s love for David. First, verse 1 declares that apart from God David will die. He will go hungry. He will go thirsty. His flesh will waste away. Second, in verse 3 he says that the lovingkindness of God is better than life to him. The word in Hebrew is “chesed” or God’s covenant faithfulness or mercy. God’s love for David is better than breath. He would rather die than be cut off from God’s love.
The tune is a bit melancholy, emphasizing David’s longing for God and his mercy. Notice here that David longs to go into God’s house. While the tabernacle and Temple have been done away with, God’s people should still long to be in God’s presence and worshiping with other saints. God is always with us, as he was with David in the wilderness. However, there is a special presence of God in worship. It is in within his house that we see the “glories of his grace.”
Worship Song #2: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, p. 315
How impoverished our hymn singing would be without Charles Wesley! Wesley begins this great hymn with praise and then, as usual, fills it with wonderful images of God’s kindness to us in Christ.
My favorite line in the song, and one of the most theologically rich, is the first phrase in verse 4, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin.” Here, in one short phrase, Wesley speaks of both sanctification (breaking sin’s power) and justification (sin being cancelled). He reminds us that Jesus forgives, but by His Spirit, he also gives us power to overcome sin.
Wesley also gives us a great picture of salvation when he says that Jesus “speaks and listening to His voice new life the dead receive” (verse 5). First, Wesley understands that we are dead and need to be raised. We don’t need more education. We need resurrection. Second, he understands that Jesus’ voice is what raises us. Wesley probably has John 10:3 and 16 in view as well as the raising of Lazarus from the dead in John 11:38-44.
Finally, Wesley began his hymn wishing for a thousand tongues to praise God. He ends the hymn with a call to all the redeemed to employ their tongues in praise to God (verse 6).
I encourage you to practice these songs as a family or listen to them online as you prepare to enter God’s house.