And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
That is the closing of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’. Below is a recording of Sandra McCraken’s ‘We Will Feast in the House of Zion’, recording at her congregation, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville. God have mercy.
Come, Desire of Nations, come,
Fix in Us thy humble Home,
Rise, the Woman’s Conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in Us the Serpent’s Head.
Now display thy saving Pow’r,
Ruin’d Nature now restore,
Now in Mystic Union join
Thine to Ours, and Ours to Thine.
This is the fourth stanza from Charles Wesley’s original 1739 version of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” (originally entitled “A Hymn for Christmas Day”). It’s wonderful. I wonder why it’s not included in the song much anymore.
One of the great concerns of missional theology is the translation of theological language and practice across cultures. While the truth of the gospel does not change, the mode of communicating it can and must depending upon location. This was one of the arguments for the adaptation of rock and pop music in worship. Every musical style and genre will eventually run into the same problem: diminishing returns crossing cultures. A seminary professor of mine once told a story of visiting an evangelical church in Japan that was a slavish copy of American churches. The church had a praise team that dressed like a caricature of American worship leaders and played translated CCM. And it didn’t work, because it failed to account for the differences in American and Japanese culture.
As American and western culture changes, the use of rock music in worship stops meeting the needs that lead to its employment in the first place…
When “contemporary” music hit the church scene starting in the 1960s, really picking up and winning out by the late 1990s, one of the arguments for the change in style is that it would be more familiar and appealing both…
As a followup to my recent post on the death of the Old Testament, I want to provide two direct solutions to breathing life back into the church’s use of it. The problem is not just that the Old Testament is often absent from the the life of the church, but in its presence it is not used well.
The simplest, most immediate solution is to starting singing the Psalms in worship. Not worship songs loosely based on a psalm, such as Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” inspired by Psalm 103, but singing actual psalms…