Mike has been slowly growing a little library of sorts of some songs that work well to pair guitar and organ together. This past week we did The Wonderful Cross (a Chris Tomlin chorus added to When I survey the Wondrous Cross). Basically the Organ added some nice synth/swell sounds and it was a really nice effect. We have been so grateful for our congregation who has met Mike and Jon Wilson’s mesh ups with much appreciation. Mostly their reaction is not one of “What you messed with tradition?!” but rather one of thankfulness. I’m thinking that probably says something about the need for this kind of guitar/organ woven beauty as we move forward to bringing young and old, traditionalists and modernists together into our worship services. There is still room for both modern worshippers and classical/tradition leaders to shine at our church and for that I am grateful, but also so thankful that each can lay aside their preferences and work together to make something new and fresh. Here’s to Musical Breadth!
Starting at 26:20 you can hear his rendition. Message us or comment below if you would like the chart or any notes about what they did.
When our hearts don’t know what to think about the sorrows or joys we may face in this life, we can find solace in the Word of God (specifically in the Psalms) where we find words that express every emotion for our souls and see Jesus more clearly. We recently gathered some resources and quotes surrounding why we sing the Psalms for a Sunday school class and wanted to share them here for you. Below are some quotes and resources, not exactly an essay, just some encouraging words worth sharing (the sources are at bottom of this post). May we continue to “sing to him a new song” (Psalm 33:3) bringing glory and honor to our precious Lord and Savior.
“The prayers of the faithful are so cold, that we ought to be ashamed and dismayed. The psalms can incite us to lift up our hearts to God and move us to an ardor in invoking and exalting with praises the glory of his Name.” – John Calvin engaging his church in Geneva.
I would love to tell you I found these lyrics in a beautiful crumbly and cracked hymnal. But this one came to me by way of the internet. I (Allie) was thumb scrolling through some of Anne Steele hymn titles on hymnary.org about a month ago and stumbled upon this hymn. I was in shock over the title because my heart had been needing some kind of response to all the ache and hurt that we’ve been experiencing in the world today as we “hourly” hear heart breaking news surrounding racial divides. So much hurt is happening around us and this hymn’s prayer like quality seemed to be a direct response to our modern times.
A little bit of they hymn’s history given by www.hymnary.org: the poem was first published in Anne Steel’s “Poems on Subjects chiefly Devotional” 1760. In the late 1700s it was printed in 100% of hymnals. It has sense waxed and wained in popularity lastly printed by the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church in the early 1950s at which time was printed in under 5% of hymnals.
Even despite the lyric’s history and long since drop off the earth, I was moved by the word’s in a deeply powerful way. I had been recently encouraged through sermon by Jemar Tisby towards the idea of morning along side of our African American brothers and sisters who are experiencing much hurt as their culture constantly gets misunderstood and unjustly treated. When I sat at the piano and put these lyrics to music I felt a personal reaction to it, one of sorrow and morning. It poured out of me almost as if the lyrics were my own, and the music flowed with ease. I believe this tells to how well these lyrics apply to many aspects of the christian walk: fears, doubt, feebleness. I hope your spirit is lifted up and encouraged by these lyrics as I have been. Oh Lord “Increase my faith, increase my hope, when foes and fears prevail; and bear my fainting spirit up, or soon my strength will fail.”
1 Alas, what hourly dangers rise!
What snares beset my way!
To Heaven O let me lift my eyes,
And hourly watch and pray.
If you attend our church (FPC Augusta, GA) you may wonder what Mike’s favorite style is. (And you will probably never hear him verbally claim one…the older he gets I’m not sure he even has one, he truly loves them all.) You may also wonder what style of music our church seeks to do, and spend any time in either the a.m. or evening service and you may not be able to grasp it. When they hired Mike on as assistant music and arts director, little did they know how many styles constantly swim in his head. Nor did they realize he’d be willing to pull out both electric guitars in the evening but also play classical in the morning, or arrange for the organ.
I (Allie) have sometimes struggled with lack of decision on this front. It sometimes makes my head spin when Mike will pull of a gospel night right on the heels of a celtic night or a modern worship set. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE it all, but as the pianist asked to attempt all these styles, sometimes I am a little less than willing. But all styles matter and it all holds an important place in our congregation.
As the body of Christ, we are hardly one singular thing, and by diversifying the music in our worship services, we mirror God and get to experience his different attributes.
Confession: I am shamefully the first to roll my eyes when Mike says hey honey you’re playing Gospel piano this week and honestly in my own insecurities I say: “What? could you not get someone else?!” This probably says something about my willingness or lack there of to serve, which perhaps is a whole different topic/blog post.
I digress…Truth is the Lord is teaching me so much about how amazing it is when I step out of my comfort zone and let the Lord work through my feeble attempts. In fact, he constantly surprises me and frankly I’ve had the most fun on those services when I’m dragging myself to the plate and saying WOW do something Lord, because I don’t have it!
Recently we stumbled upon this video and it is worth a watch. It explains everything we personally stand for. All music styles speak to the different aspects of God and we should be accomplishing them all, not for the sake of appeasing the squeaky wheels in our congregations, but to honor every aspect of the God we worship!
Enjoy and to God be the glory in whatever style we play in whatever way we sing!
I got to catch up on a sunday evening service via video recently when the kids were sick and we had to stay home one sunday morning. Often I can feel lonely on a sunday when I have to stay home while Mike is at the church doing the services. However, the mood is lightened when I crank up the worship music, decide to throw the schedule to the wind and just enjoy the day!
My soul was fed through the music and the sermon as we sat there in our pjs and slimy runny noses and I was fervently reminded about the mission of our church and how exciting it all is.
Our Church has a mission and desire to “reflect the complexion of heaven” (Rev 5:9) and Mike has just been loving the excuse to diversify the music up a bit. Which was felt very much this particular sunday that I watched.
- Mike’s rendition/mash up of “No Other Name” and “Holy, Holy, Holy” (8:44 in video)
- Indelible Grace’s “Heal Us” from their newest Album Look to Jesus (12:07 in video)
Did you catch the Tuba? I mean who could miss it! Mike sure has a way of roping them in.
Note: when including a Tuba in the modern worship setting one should make sure the player has a marching band Tuba made of plastic, as we have found it is most helpful when having to break it apart to fit in your car when needing to pick up your player on the way to rehearsal. Ha Ha! I’m a marching band geek myself so I smiled with pride. This kid was amazing. Didn’t he do excellently? So joyful!