"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music."
Singing New Songs to the LordIn our worship of God in song, New Hope regularly makes use of music and poetry written by our own members. The website www.newhymns.org features the music of New Hope member Davide Marney. Feel free to read lyrics, listen to audio clips, and incorporate these songs into the worship of your congregation.
Learning Songs Both Old and NewDuring our Evening Fellowship on the Lord’s Day, we often take time to learn hymns and songs to use in the worship of God, sometimes introducing new songs to the congregation, other times, reviewing familiar ones. We reflect upon the text sung, considering the truths that it confesses, and review the music, learning both melody and harmony in order to make a rich and confident choral sound. The whole congregation is the choir, and we love to rehearse!
What We're Learning NowCome, O Come, Thou Holy Spirit
This is a 2015 song produced by the folks of Indelible Grace. Julie Melucci wrote music to accompany poetry by Joachim Neander (as well as other anonymous contributors), and added some words of her own. The result is a prayer that draws upon some familiar hymns, looking to the Holy Spirit for light and life. Learn more here.
What We've LearnedHere are songs we've learned or reviewed in the past:
Our Song From Age to Age
This is a 2012 song from the folks at Sovereign Grace Music, words and music by Joel Sczebel. God is acknowledged here as the one who made the stars, and who poured mercy on our needy souls. Same God. Christ is acknowledged here as the one who took on flesh and fulfilled the Father's saving purposes, even unto death. This God now guides our feet as the one enthroned over all. So it is that "our voices unite to recount your praise."
Shepherd of Tender Youth
This hymn, #160 in the Trinity Hymnal, combines an ancient text with late twentieth century music. The poem is attributed to Clement of Alexandria, and gives praise to Christ. The music was composed by Ronald Alan Matthews, who served as a member of the Trinity Hymnal Revision Committee which produced this edition. In the church's earliest centuries, and in our own day, the Lord is providing gifts to enable his people to sing his praise!
Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend wrote this song in 2009. It recalls the faith of those who went before us—the Fathers and Prophets of the Old Testament, the Apostles of the New Testament—and calls us to follow their lead. "We will stand as children of the promise. We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul's reward. Till the race is finished and the work is done, we'll walk by faith and not by sight."
Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God
This is a 2006 song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. With this poem we pray to the Spirit to cause us to grow in grace, breathing into us the resurrection life of our Savior. You can learn more here.
Cause Your Word to come alive in me.
Give me faith for what I cannot see.
Give me passion for Your purity.
Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.
New Hope member Davide Marney has composed new music to accompany this setting of the opening verses of Psalm 33, taken from Isaac Watts' Olney Hymns collection. Here we acknowledge God as the Creator of all things, and the one whose eternal counsels will surely stand.
My Soul Finds Rest in God Alone
Stuart Townend and Aaron Keyes have written this song based on Psalm 62. In this Psalm, David confesses that God alone is his salvation, especially in the midst of the mistreatment that he receives from others. "My soul finds rest in God alone, my rock and my salvation. A fortress strong against my foes, and I will not be shaken."
In the Cross of Christ I Glory
This is a nineteenth-century poem (slightly revised and extended for our purposes here in 2014!) that boasts in the cross of Christ. With this hymn we confess what Christ accomplished on the cross, as well as what the cross means to the Christian today in the midst of earthly blessings and sorrows. "In the cross of Christ I glory / Tow'ring o'er the world of time. On th'unfolding human story / Sheds its beams of light sublime."
Abide With Me
Justin Smith of Indelible Grace has written new music to accompany the text “Abide With Me.” Henry Lyte’s 1847 poem is a plea to the Lord to grant us a sense of his presence in all that we go through: darkness and discouragement, change and decay, cloud and sunshine, even life and death.
Joy Has Dawned
This is a song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The birth of Jesus signaled the dawning of joy because God had given the gift of a Savior. His birth wasn’t outwardly impressive, but the angels knew better, and they let the shepherds in on the secret. “Not with fanfares from above, not with scenes of glory, but a humble gift of love: Jesus, born of Mary.” Fittingly, we conclude this song with the refrain from “Angels We Have Heard on High”: Gloria in excelsis Deo!
O Church, Arise
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend have written this stirring anthem for the church as the army of God. "O Church, arise, and put your armor on; hear the call of Christ our Captain." The warfare is spiritual, so our weapons are, too, including "the sword that makes the wounded whole." Victory awaits thanks to Christ, who triumphed over sin and death by his own death and resurrection, and whose Spirit strengthens us to carry on until the day when we are raised with him. You can see the words and a video here.
William Billings (1746-1800) wrote the music for this setting of the Isaac Watts poem "There Is a Land of Pure Delight." You can find the sheet music here.
Speak, O Lord
"Speak, O Lord, as we come to you to receive the food of your holy Word." Keith Getty and Stuart Townend have written this choral prayer, in which we ask the Lord to bless the ministry of his Word in our lives. We ask Christ to shape us into his likeness, so that we shine with acts of love and deeds of faith. May it be so.
God Is My Great Salvation
New Hope member Davide Marney has written this poem, based on Psalm 27, as well as the music to accompany it. The words express God-directed confidence, desire, resolution and gratitude. "I'm confident in Him; though armies may surround me, though war itself be near, I do not fear!" The sheet music is available here.
My God, My Father, Blissful Name
Anne Steele, an eighteenth-century Englishwoman, experienced intimately the realities of suffering and loss. In the midst of her trials she learned much about the mercy of her heavenly Father, and this poem breathes of that spirit. Justin Smith of Indelible Grace has provided new music to accompany Steele's words. "Whate'er Thy providence denies, I calmly would resign. For thou art just, and good, and wise. O bend my will to thine."
O Lord God, How Great Your Mercy
New Hope is beginning to serve as a Fairfax, Virginia outpost for the music of Paul S. Jones and Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia! This latest Tenth hymn that we've added to our repertoire is another that combines music by Jones and a poem by Eric Alexander, this one based on Romans 12:1-2. Paul urged the Roman Christians to offer themselves as living sacrifices to God in view of the divine mercy they had received, and this hymn picks up on that theme: "Living sacrifices, gladly we our bodies yield to you; under such divine compulsion 'tis the least that we can do."
Help My Unbelief
Red Mountain Music, based in Birmingham, Alabama, has provided new music to accompany a poem by the great eighteenth-century hymn-writer John Newton. Newton's verses express the Christian's struggle with sin, along the lines of the Apostle Paul's confession in Romans 7: "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." The Christian wants to pray and repent and love and rest in God's will, but he finds that his own heart resists him at every turn. Thus he cries out, like the man who cried out to Jesus in Mark 9, "I believe. Help my unbelief!" Thankfully this is no hopeless cry, and we have added a third verse to express the Christian's confidence: Jesus died for us so that we might be set free from sin, and the Almighty Spirit is infinitely more powerful than any doubts and failings that might shackle us now.
Teach Me, O Lord
New Hope member Davide Marney has written new music to accompany the setting of Psalm 119:33-40 in the 1912 Psalter. "In thy commandments make me walk, for in thy law my joy shall be." The sheet music for this song is available here.
Throned Upon the Awful Tree
Lately we're reviewing this song, which combines an 1875 poem by Anglican minister John Ellerton and new music by Dave Marney. Ellerton's text takes us to the cross, where we imagine what can be seen and heard as our Savior dies for our salvation. The comfort we draw is this: because Christ underwent the agonies of the cross on our behalf, we can know that he will never leave us nor forsake us when we know some darkness in our own lives.
All Praise to Christ
We recently introduced this hymn from the "Hymns for a Modern Reformation" collection produced by Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The poem by James Boice is based on the doxology of Revelation 1:5-7: "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen." Here we acknowledge divine love, and liberating atonement, and coming judgment. "All praise to Christ from grateful men forevermore. Amen."
On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand
The last track on Indelible Grace's 2001 CD "Pilgrim Days" features an eighteenth-century poem by Samuel Stennett set to new music by Christopher Miner. Stennett's text expresses the Christian's longing for heaven, using the image of the Israelite gazing across the Jordan to see the land that he longs for, and that he's destined for, and that the Lord has sworn to give him. The Christian can say, "I am bound for the promised land." And how much greater is the land we've been promised: "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).
Come Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted
Gregory Wilbur (see below) composed the music to accompany this poem by Joseph Swain (1761-1796), which summons sinners to Christ to find liberating mercy. The cross supplies rest to those who have broken God's law, as well as setting us free to love and keep that law after all. "His commandments then become their happy choice."
Amid the Fears That Oppress Our Day (Trinity Hymnal #72)
This hymn combines a poem by Margaret Clarkson (1915-2008) and music by Ronald Matthews. The constant refrain is "Our God is sovereign still." The fears that oppress our day--and test our hearts--are fears of all sorts, but we hold onto the truth of divine sovereignty in the midst of them all. And we do so looking forward to the day "when Christ shall come to receive his own."
O God, We Hail Thy Christ, Our King
This is the third composition by Gregory Wilbur that we've learned here at New Hope. (See "Come, Ye Disconsolate" and "Blest Is the Man" below.) The words of this poem are based on Psalm 72:1-7 as it appears in The Psalter of 1912. (The poem originally began "O God, to thine anointed king give truth and righteousness," but we've slightly altered the text to begin "O God, we hail thy Christ, our king, the king of righteousness," as this better expresses the truth concerning our King Jesus, who is not needy as Israel's kings were.) In Psalm 72 the psalmist expresses in prayer his desires for the reign of Israel's king. Today the Christian church rejoices that God has given us such a king, one whose reign means justice and prosperity for his subjects. Hail King Jesus!
'Round the Throne in Radiant Glory
This is another hymn from the wonderful "Hymns for a Modern Reformation" collection published by Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, featuring poetry by James Boice and music by Paul Jones. (We've learned three hymns from that collection already. See below.) The five verses in this hymn are based upon the praises of Father and Son recorded in Revelation 4 and 5. The tune name, QADOSH, represents a Hebrew word meaning "holy," for with this hymn we follow the lead of those heavenly worshippers by ascribing holiness and worthiness to our God and to his Christ.
Several years ago we learned to sing Psalm 98 as it appears in the psalter of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). We thought it was time for a refresher, so we're taking a few Sunday evenings to review it. Here we confess that our God is both Redeemer and Judge, and that those truths call for joyful song emanating from the whole of creation. The tune of this arrangement is DESERT.
O God, Most Holy Are Your Ways
The poem of this hymn is based on the concluding portion of Psalm 77, in which Israel's Red Sea deliverance is recounted in dramatic, poetic terms. The first three verses of the hymn look back upon that great moment in Exodus, and then three new verses celebrate our salvation in Jesus Christ. The tune (VATER UNSER) features a melody paired by Martin Luther with the text of the Lord's Prayer, but here set to different use. Click here to see this hymn sheet.
Blest Is the Man
Gregory Wilbur (see "Come, Ye Disconsolate" below) has adapted a nineteenth-century melody to accompany this Isaac Watts poem, based upon the opening verses of Psalm 32. Watts' poem celebrates the blessedness both of forgiveness and of personal renewal. The man whose sin is forgiven lives a life of "humble joy and holy fear," which "well agree" with his repentance unto life. "How glorious is that righteousness that hides and cancels all his sins, while a bright evidence of grace through his whole life appears and shines."
You Righteous, in the Lord Rejoice (Trinity Hymnal #43)
When the pianist begins to play this tune, OLD 113th, you may think to yourself, "Oh, I know this tune well." But when he keeps playing past the first phrase, a surprise awaits! The opening phrase sounds just like the familiar tune LASST UNS ERFREUEN ("All Creatures of Our God and King"), but then OLD 113th strikes out on its own direction. The text is based on the opening verses of Psalm 33, which summon all to praise and fear the Lord who has bound himself to his people by covenant:
O truly is the nation blessed
whose God, before the world confessed,
Jehovah is alone;
and blessed the people are whom he
has made his heritage to be,
and chosen for his own.
Come, Ye Disconsolate
Gregory Wilbur, who serves as Chief Musician and Liturgist at Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Franklin, Tennessee, has composed new music to accompany many older hymn texts. You can learn more about Gregory and his work at www.newparishpsalms.com.One of those texts is the nineteenth-century Thomas Moore/Thomas Hastings poem "Come, Ye Disconsolate." This text calls sinners to come to Christ in prayer, bringing their sorrows and finding the comfort he speaks through the Scriptures. Here's good news: "Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot heal."
King of Glory
This is the second hymn we've learned that combines music by Paul Jones of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and a text by Eric Alexander, formerly Pastor of St. George's-Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland. This poem by Alexander resounds with echoes of Psalm 24 ("Who can this King of glory be?") and the teaching of Hebrews ("our Royal Priest now intercedes and understands our deepest needs"). Thus in singing this hymn we confess both the glorious majesty and the tender nearness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our exalted, glorious king, but he has not been exalted so as to be rendered out of reach to sinners, not lifted up so as to be removed from the lowly of heart. Rather, our king of glory is priest of sympathy, too.
Jesus, I Come
This song appears on the 2003 recording "For All the Saints" by the group Indelible Grace, affiliated with Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee and the ministry of Reformed University Fellowship at Belmont University in Nashville. Accompanied by new music from Greg Thompson, the text gives expression to the Christian's coming to Christ by a series of contrasts: I come out of my sin and misery and into Christy's mercy and life.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of thy sheltering fold,
Ever thy glorious face to behold.
Jesus, I come to thee.
See, the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph (Trinity Hymnal #291)
Christopher Wordsworth, nephew of the poet William Wordsworth, authored this text, and Charles Hubert Hastings Parry composed the music. Thus the labors of a Cambridge man (Wordsworth) and an Oxford man (Parry) come together! Wordsworth's text pictures the ascension of Jesus Christ into heavenly glory after his resurrection from the dead: his dramatic entry, the angelic reception, even his glorified human nature. Because Christ has been raised and exalted, we can rest confident that we will follow: "Lord, in your ascension we by faith behold our own."
Behold the Throne
This is the latest offering from New Hope's own Dave Marney. Dave has composed new music to accompany a poem by John Newton on the subject of prayer. We draw near to God's throne in prayer encouraged by the promises of God and welcomed by Christ himself, our great high priest. We ask God for a sense of his reassuring presence and transforming power, longing to serve him here and to meet him in heaven. "Behold the throne of grace."
God the Lord Is King (Trinity Hymnal #47)
The text of this hymn draws upon Psalm 99, affirming the fearful holiness of God, as well as the incident of the golden calf in Exodus, in which God showed himself both holy and merciful. The music was written by Dale Wood, a prominent 20th century composer of church music, as well as editor, author, organist and conductor.
Let the Earth Resound
This 2005 song by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend celebrates "the depths of love divine": the Creator has "set his heart on us", revealed most clearly in Christ's "life of full obedience and death in agony" on our behalf, so that now ours is the hope of "the wonder yet to come". So let the earth resound with praise to our "King Immortal, Faithful God"!
We've already learned the first two hymns in the collection published by Tenth Presbyterian Church featuring texts by James Montgomery Boice and music by Paul S. Jones. "Heaven's Gift" is the third hymn in that collection. Based on Romans 3:21-28, this poem celebrates the gracious justification that is ours by faith alone: thanks to Christ's atoning work on the cross, God gives to believers a status of "Righteous!" that the law could never give. Not only did Boice and Jones give the church a wonderful combination of text and tune, but Boice even managed to include the five-syllable word "propitiation" in his poem . . . and it fits! "Propitiation" refers to the removal of God's wrath against sinners, which is precisely what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Heaven's gift, indeed.
From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee (Trinity Hymnal #554)
This hymn features a text and a melody both by Martin Luther. The text is based on Psalm 130. Just like the Psalmist, we are those who cry out to God for forgiveness, waiting upon him for satisfaction, and urging believers around us to follow our lead. This hymn captures those spiritual affections. Also, Luther loved to stress that we sinners ought to glory in God and not in ourselves, trusting in his grace alone and not in our works, and those emphases come out in this poem. "No man can glory in thy sight, all must alike confess thy might, and live alone by mercy."
In this text by Stuart Townend (who also wrote the accompanying music), we sing of God's mercy: Christ went to the cross on our behalf, and because he did, we have been brought from guilt to forgiveness, from death to life. Now we long for heaven, where we will praise the Lamb of God. The chorus of this song resounds with praise to Christ: "Beautiful Saviour, Wonderful Counselor, clothed in majesty, Lord of history, you're the Way, the Truth, the Life. Star of the Morning, glorious in holiness, you're the Risen One, heaven's Champion, and you reign, you reign over all!"
Lord Jesus Christ, How Far You Came
In addition to the music that Paul S. Jones wrote to accompany the poetry of James Boice (see "How Marvelous, How Wise, How Great" and "Give Praise to God" below), he has also written music for several hymn texts written by Eric J. Alexander, formerly the pastor of St. George's-Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland. This particular text is based upon Paul's tracing out of the work of Christ in Philippians 2:5-11: he who was and is God willingly condescended to become man and die for our salvation; now that same One has been raised and exalted, and a Day is coming when everyone will acknowledge that it is so. "Lord Jesus Christ, how deep your love for sinners, poor and lost, that you should come from heav'n above, a servant be, our sins remove, and save at such a cost."
From Heaven High I Come To You (Trinity Hymnal #220)
In conjunction with our evening lesson of December 7, in which we studied a 1530 sermon by Martin Luther on Luke 2:1-14, we have begun to learn this hymn . . . written by the same man, and covering the same subject! "From Heaven High I Come to You" is a hymn that Luther wrote on the theme of the angel's announcement to the shepherds concerning the birth of the Savior. The story goes that Luther wrote this hymn for use in their family devotions; now the family that is the Church all over the world gets to sing these words in celebration of "the precious Gift of God, who hath his own dear Son bestowed."
How Marvelous, How Wise, How Great
This is the second hymn from the collection "Hymns for a Modern Reformation" (see "Give Praise to God" below). This text is based upon Romans 8:29-30, in which Paul gives God the glory for our salvation from beginning to end. It was God who predestined us, who calls and justifies and transforms us, and who will one day glorify us with Christ.
Across the Lands
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, who also collaborated on "In Christ Alone" and "The Power of the Cross," wrote this 2002 song in praise of Christ as Creator and Redeemer. In the first verse we sing of Christ as the Word of God who made and sustains all things. In the second verse we confess his sacrificial love, willing to become one of us and die for us. In the third and final verse we sing of his resurrection victory, for now the Risen Christ is leading homeward those for whom he died. After each verse our chorus is this: "You're the Author of creation, you're the Lord of every man, and your cry of love rings out across the lands."
Give Praise to God
This is the first hymn in the collection "Hymns for a Modern Reformation," published by Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The twelve hymns in this collection feature texts by James Montgomery Boice, who served as Tenth's Senior Pastor until his death in 2000, and music by Paul S. Jones, Tenth's Organist and Music Director. This first hymn is based upon the Apostle Paul's exclamation of praise in Romans 11:33-36. The conclusion of that passage -- "To him be glory forever. Amen." -- inspired the refrain of this hymn: "Come, lift your voice to heaven's high throne, and glory give to God alone!"
O Great God
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions inspired the "Valley of Vision" CD released by Sovereign Grace Music in 2006. The song "O Great God" is based upon the prayer in that collection entitled "Regeneration." Here the Christian expresses his desire that the great God of highest heaven reign within his heart. He does so mindful that the grace of God has brought him from spiritual death to spiritual life--a radical transformation! In short, we want to glorify the God who has made us his own: "You have loved and purchased me. Make me yours forevermore."
Lord, In Humility I Stand
This poem is an adaptation of a nineteenth-century text by Thomas Raffles, with new music written by New Hope member Davide Marney (www.newhymns.org). Our text describes the believer's experience of repentance: he stands in humility before the Lord, acknowledging that he has failed to hallow Him and feeling real distress for that failure, but also trusting in the Lord's mercy revealed at the cross. "Here at thy cross I now take my stand, nor from its shelter flee, for thou, O God, at my right hand, art merciful to me."
Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord (#60 in the Trinity Hymnal)
In Psalm 36:5-10 we read of the Lord's preserving and providing love, love so vast that it can be said to extend to the heavens. David describes the Lord's care in verses 5-9, and then asks in verse 10 that that care continue all our days. This hymn text is an arrangement of those verses from Psalm 36. "The fountain of eternal life is found alone with thee, and in the brightness of thy light we clearly light shall see. From those that know thee may thy love and mercy ne'er depart, and may thy justice still protect and bless the upright heart."
The Power of the Cross (Oh to See the Dawn)
Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, "The Power of the Cross" recalls that dread day when Jesus was put to death: the injustice that was perpetrated, the agony that he experienced, the extraordinary events in the skies and on the earth that accompanied his dying. But the song also recalls - and rejoices in - what his dying meant and still means for us today: "This the pow'r of the cross: Christ became sin for us, took the blame, bore the wrath. We stand forgiven at the cross."
Holy Is Your Name
This song brings together a traditional Scottish folk tune and a poem based upon the Magnificat, Mary's exclamation of praise and joy in Luke 1:46-55. (The tune is well-known -- and much-recorded! -- as accompanying the poem "Wild Mountain Thyme.") Here we sing of God's faithfulness to his covenant promises: he has visited his chosen people with salvation, exalting the humble and humbling the exalted, and thus magnifying his own holy name.
In your love you now fulfill what you promised to your people.
I will praise you Lord, my Savior, everlasting is your mercy.
My God, My God, O Why Have You Forsaken Me? (#79 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This text is a setting of verses from Psalm 22, and the music is a Ralph Vaughan Williams arrangement of a traditional English folk song. Though our Savior cried out with these words in anguish on the cross, bearing God's wrath in a way that we believers never will, this was a prayer of David long before it was a prayer of Christ, and we, like David, know the perplexity that's God's people often feel when our Father gives us over to experience suffering and ridicule. Thankfully, we also know that the Lord who rescued his people in the past will not fail to do so again. "When I proclaim my praise of you, then all the church will hear, and I will pay my vows in full where men hold him in fear."
O Wherefore Do the Nations Rage (#314 in the Trinity Hymnal)
The text of this hymn is based upon Psalm 2. With it we confess that opposition to God and to his Christ, no matter how strong and concerted, is doomed to fail: sinners are no match for Him. Far wiser to kneel before the Great King now, when he can be known in mercy, than to fall under his judgment, which he will surely bring one day as the Heir of the nations. “Delay not, lest his anger rise, and ye should perish in your way; lo, all that put their trust in him are blest indeed, and blest alway.”
To Christ the Lord
This song is found on the latest CD, entitled “Beams of Heaven,” by the group Indelible Grace, affiliated with Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee and the ministry of Reformed University Fellowship at Belmont University in Nashville. The poem by Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) is a meditation on the loveliness of Christ, the wonder of both who he is and what he has done for us. Laura Taylor, with Indelible Grace, has written a concluding poetic line, as well as the music that accompanies the text. “To Christ the Lord let every tongue its noblest tribute bring!”
That Holy Eve When Joy Was Born
This text, based upon an ancient Latin poem, begins by recounting the Lord's first post-resurrection appearance to his company of disciples, when he proved to them by his physical presence that he had in fact risen from the dead! The text goes on to petition the same risen Lord for grace to praise him, and for his abiding presence with us in the face of trials. It concludes with a doxology, as we want all praise to belong to our Triune God. The tune that accompanies our text is PUER NOBIS NASCITUR, as adapted by Michael Praetorius in the early seventeenth century and arranged by George R. Woodward in the early twentieth.
Have You Not Known, Have You Not Heard (#31 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This hymn brings together two of the "fathers" of hymnody in our tradition: Isaac Watts, author of the text, is regularly referred to as the "father of English hymnody," and Lowell Mason, who wrote the tune, has been called the "father of American church music." Watts's text is based on the conclusion of Isaiah 40, in which Isaiah teaches us that the Almighty, Never-weary God of the universe strengthens his people in such a way that we become mighty, too. "Mere human power shall fast decay, and youthful vigor cease; but they who wait upon the Lord in strength shall still increase."
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates! (to the tune Macht Hoch Die Tur)
New Hope reviewed the tune Macht Hoch Die Tur, which in the previous edition of the Trinity Hymnal accompanied a form of the text "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates!" These words celebrate the coming of the King of glory, who is also the Savior of the world. Christ is a king like no other: one whose "chariot is humility, His kingly crown is holiness, His scepter, pity in distress." He is that "cloudless Sun of joy, who bringeth pure delight and bliss."
We praise thee, Father, now, Creator, wise art thou!
We praise thee, Saviour, now, Mighty in deed art thou!
We praise thee, Spirit, now, Our Comforter art thou!
God of Gods, We Sound His Praises (#23 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This 1973 hymn features the work of two Englishmen, with a text by Timothy Dudley-Smith and music by Christian Strover. As we sing this text we bow down before the one who is God of gods and King of kings, and who is thus worthy that we should "tell his praises wide abroad." In Jesus Christ this great God has come down to us, for he was "born to share our story, love and labor, grieve and die." Now that his work of redemption is "completed, sinners ransomed, death defeated," and he has ascended to his Father's right hand, we long for the Day of his return, and seek his grace that he might preserve us until then and enable us "to walk [his] ways."
Jesus, Master, Whose I Am
This is a nineteenth-century text by the Englishwoman Frances Havergal, which we're singing to new music written and recorded by the Franklin, Tennessee-based group, Indelible Grace. Havergal's poem acknowledges Jesus Christ as our master and owner, and expresses our earnest desire to walk worthy of the one who died for us on the cross. We neither earn our salvation by our obedience, nor give Jesus something that he needs from us; rather, the believer simply "longs to prove and show full allegiance to my King. Thou an honor art to me; let me be a praise to thee."
We Lift Up as Our Shield God's Name (#104 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This text is a late twentieth-century adaptation of an ancient poem that was originally written in Gaelic and traditionally attributed to Patrick, missionary to Ireland in the fifth century. The poem calls upon the Church's Triune God to be the believer’s protector, thus it came to be known as "St. Patrick's Breastplate," and the accompanying tune now bears the same name. The Church has Edmund P. Clowney to thank for giving us these words to sing. Dr. Clowney, a learned and faithful servant of the Lord who passed into glory in March of last year, provided several poems that have been incorporated into the New Trinity Hymnal, of which this is one. In the third and final verse, we sing of:
the pow'r of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch,
his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to our need;
the wisdom of our God to teach,
his hand to guide,
his shield to ward,
the word of God to give us speech,
his heav'nly host to be our guard.
Certainly Dr. Clowney's life testifies that these things are so!
My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less
New Hope member Davide Marney has composed new music to accompany this familiar nineteenth-century text by Edward Mote. Here the believer confesses that his hope is as well-founded as it can possibly be, because it rests upon all that the Son did to satisfy the justice of the Father: living a life of perfect righteousness, and dying to make perfect atonement. The believer “dare not trust in sweetest frame,” that is, not even in his own sweetest frame of mind, because only the objective work of Christ is sufficiently solid and steadfast to preserve the believer through “darkness,” “gale” and “flood.” Christ’s blood and righteousness make up the foundation of our hope in this life, and that hope is certain to be fulfilled in the life to come, fully ushered in when “he shall come with trumpet sound.”
Welcome, Happy Morning! (#268 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This ancient text confesses the Church's joy over the resurrection of Jesus, by which hell was defeated and heaven gained for his people. The divine Son who from heaven beheld our Fall graciously came down and became one of us in order to deliver us from all that our Fall had wrought: "manhood to deliver, manhood didst put on." We remember that he underwent death on our behalf, and then we imaginatively urge him to rise from death on the third day, and to enliven all his people with his own resurrection life.
Jesus Christ, Our Sure Foundation (#354 in the Trinity Hymnal)
This text praises Jesus Christ by many glorious titles: he is “Shepherd, Guardian, . . . Savior, Ruler, Guide, and Friend.” In particular, we acknowledge Christ to be the foundation, builder and preserver of his Church, and we can be certain that the one who “bore our blame,” who “from the first did seek us,” will not fail us now in any of those saving roles. For our part, we long for his return on the day when “Christ our King [will] return in might.” In the meantime, our song of praise is underway: the refrain of this hymn—and of our lives—is “Praise we now and evermore, Jesus we adore!”