Notes on our weekly music

researched and compiled by Jo-Ann Beck

Let’s discuss and hear modern hymns, praise songs, and hymnal music, used in our weekly Sunday Services.


2/28/21 – As we consider the season of lent, we need to look for all references to Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Be sure to search for the significance of Luke 23:42-43. One way is to see how the various songs help to bring this out.

      “Arise, My_Soul,_Arise” is both old and new. It was penned by Charles Wesley, the 18th son of Samuel and Susanna Wesley. You can find the original version on page 305 in our hymnal. Charles was born in 1707 and died in 1788. He and his brother, Charles led Bible studies at their college, in spite of being chided for their detailed and METHODICAL methods to studying the scriptures. He published between 6,500-10,000 hymns. The words carry a strong doctrinal (albeit Armenian) content.

      The lyricist is Kevin Twit. He is a former member of Timonium Presbyterian, now residing in Nashville. Christ Community College Ministry, under the group, Indelible Grace, performs this song on their 2000 album. The group is well known for their scripture-grounded songs.

      CityAlight is a group out of Sydney, Australia. Their song, “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me”, follows their format of offering rich lyrics with simple tunes. They are not trying to be groundbreaking, unique or fashionable- but only to aid all churches of all sizes and abilities to lift their voices in praise to our triune God.

        Hymn 307, “Nothing but the Blood”, was written and composed by Robert Lowry. he was born in Philadelphia in 1826. This is a very familiar hymn. Please take time to read the two scriptures that make this so significant. Hebrews 9:22 and 1 John 1:7.

         Lastly, “Not What My Hands Have Done”, hymn 461, was written by Horatius Bonar in 1861. Born in 1808, he lived most of his life in the Edinburgh area of Scotland. He has such a rich family history- so many men in his family served in the ministry. The total years they served in Church of Scotland totals 364 years!. Bonar also wrote “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” and 140 more. Titus 3:5- “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy,”


2/21/21 – Our scripture is Luke 23:34

     This week  we are learning an “old but new” praise hymn.  By this I mean that part of the song is the familiar tune of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel. Here, it’s been adapted by Sovereign Grace Music.  The new version, by Sovereign Grace, focuses on many scripture nuggets of both the Old and new Testaments. S.G. Music has been around for over 30 years. Their mission is to produce Christ-exalting music, which they call, “Sound + Doctrine”.

     The next praise hymn, The Power of the Cross, is by Keith & Kristyn Getty with Stuart Townsend. It is on their , In Christ Alone, album of 2005. Stuart states:” it’s one of a number of story songs we’ve written together. I feel it is important to understand that…our faith is rooted in history…and backed up by evidence.” This song paints a picture of Good Friday, and the last verse includes us because our names are written into His wounds.

     Looking at the two selections from our hymnal, (#264) “Jesus , Keep Me Near the Cross” is a wonderful hymn by Fanny Crosby. She wrote over 8,500 gospel songs, even though blind at 6 weeks of age. She employed “hypotyposis” or the ability to paint vivid scenes with her lyrics, even though blind. 

     Finally, the last hymn (#473), ”Jesus Sinners Doth Receive” was written by Erdmann Neumeister, a German Lutheran minister. He lived from 1598 until 1662. Johann S. Bach was a contemporary and used 5 of Neumeister’s cantatas for his own compositions. This hymn  tune is listed as Jesus, Meine Zuversicht. Johann Cruger is also noted, but he lived before Bach, but is credited with influencing this particular melody.

     Please study the lyrics to each hymn as they should serve to lift us up to look at the cross and be assured of Christ’s love.


2/14/21 – This week, our scripture is Romans 12: 9-21. Some Bibles use a heading of “Marks of a True Christian “.  Let’s see if the songs and hymns fit this grouping.

Mighty to Save, written by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan, was published in 2006. It was sung by the Hillsongs group in Australia. It received the Dove Award for Best Worship Song in 2008. This song looks toward others, looks at our own personal needs through Christ’s salvation. It is done with a typical worship style and tempo.

Lord, From Sorrows Deep I Call, was written by Keith Getty.  This praise hymn is based on Psalm 42. Most Bibles use a heading of: a Maskil of the Sons of Korah. A maskil usually means to impart wisdom, enlightenment. Korah was Moses’ cousin (Numbers 16) and his sons were responsible for singing in the temple.

This song is in hymn format, using verse and chorus, but it varies in that it has 2 stanzas, chorus, 1 stanza, then 2 repeats of the chorus. Listen for the Irish overtones, as the Getty’s are from Ireland.

 We Are God’s People, hymn #355. Stanzas 2 and 3 focus on what Christians should seek to imitate. This hymn was written in 1976. The arrangement was by Fred Bock using a portion of Brahm’s Symphony #1 in C minor.

Take My Life, and Let It Be, hymn #585, was written in 1874, by Miss Frances Havergal. Many of her poems were printed on leaflets and ornamental cards. The composer, Henri Malan, a Swiss minister, wrote this tune many years before being paired with the lyrics.


 2/7/21 – Women were invited to meet at 9:30 am for discussions about the weekly praise and hymn music. Since we erred on the side of caution, due to expected snow, the meeting didn’t occur. While the praise tunes are familiar enough, the hymns may have not been so.  So in hindsight, let’s review these songs and see how they fit in with Pastor David’s Message that focused on Romans 12:1-8.

Build My Life ( was written by 5  collaborators, including Matt Redman. The lyrics are based on the following verses: James 5:13; Col. 3:16; Ps119:18,23:1-4; 2Tim. 2:19; and Matt. 7:24-25. The lyrics give glory to the solid foundation upon God. Listen to the note sequence of the chorus- it sounds like one building steps!

  Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery was written by Matt Boswell and others, and is published by the Getty’s. As you look at each verse, the second line details the major mysteries of God’s plan for man and Christ’s purpose in coming as man. David is preaching on the meaning of Communion and the Lenten season. See how well this praise hymn fits. 

Both hymns, 427 & 429, are from the 1800’s. Amidst Us Our Beloved, was written by Charles Spurgeon. The composer, Lowell Mason, is considered to be the father of Christian music, and was a Presbyterian. The flow of the tune is based on Gregorian chant.

Amidst Us Our Beloved

 Hymn 429, Let the Blood in Mercy Poured, was based on a Greek hymn, translated by John Brownlee. He was a Scottish hymnist who avidly translated both Greek and Latin hymns into English. John Cruger was the editor of the most widely used Lutheran hymnal. While he never wrote any hymns, he is a recognized composer of 71 chorales.


Music Summary

Modern hymns and praise songs must meet three criteria in order to be used in our worship services. They must: 

  • be theologically-sound. 
  • not be difficult for the congregation to sing. 
  • point to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord (for example, we avoid songs that focus more on the worshipper than the One worthy of all worship). 

We use The Trinity Hymnal (1990), that includes 742 Scripture-based hymns rooted in the Reformed tradition, responsive readings of the Psalms, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene Creed.


Resources

Hymnary.org Browse Hymns from the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet.


Our Worship | Praise Team