Liturgy Lessons: October 15, 2017
Call to Worship: Ps. 68:1-4; 32-35
Hymn of Praise: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above (#4)
Confession: (excerpted from “The Worship sourcebook”)
Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:8-12
Song of Assurance: O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (#535)
Tithes & Offerings
Sermon: Eric Irwin
Lord’s Supper: Jesus, Lover of My Soul (#508); My Jesus, I Love Thee (#648)
Closing Hymn: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (#296)
“Singing, praying, preaching all may lead to worship, but worship is more than any of them. Our spirit must be ignited by divine fire.”
– Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (#535)
Text: Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1929)
Tune: Thomas J. Williams (1869-1944)
This hymn is one of those perfect marriages of text and tune. The devotional hymn text fits this Welsh melody like hand to glove. The flowing triplets are like fomenting waves throughout, and bring a visceral awareness of God’s love “flowing like a mighty ocean.” The swelling and receding notes of the melody alongside the dark minor mode help us contemplate the ocean depth of Jesus’ love, “vast, unmeasured, boundless, free.” It is a strong, masculine melody with friendly intervals (no big leaps) for the voice. A perfect example of the Welsh folk tradition, it rivals the Irish in melodic richness. There is an unproven legend about the origin of this text that suggests it was penned by a young soul that had been delivered from attempting suicide. Whatever Samuel Francis was enduring when he wrote this, one thing is clear: He was engulfed in the love of Christ, and his text is full of this immersive imagery. “Underneath me, all around me is the current of Thy love.” Lifted out of the waves of pitiful sorrow into the ocean of Christ’s love, Samuel Francis was testifying to the truth that Paul wrote so long ago: “How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:18). Easily one of my all-time top 10, this vivid hymn helps us all visualize the immensity of Christ’s love: overwhelming and free, submerging us in the depths of his tender heart.
Jesus, Lover of My Soul
Text: Charles Wesley (1740)
Tune: Joseph Parry (1876)
There is perhaps no better hymn to recall in times of temptation than this one. In fact, the original title under which the hymn was published was “In temptation.” After its publishing, this haunting hymn was left out of many hymnals because the language was deemed too “pietistic” and “intimate.” Those claims are hard to imagine in our modern context, for it is precisely this desperate cry for deeper union with Christ that we need. Phrases like “thou, o Christ, art all I want” and “thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee” make singing this hymn powerful during the sacrament of communion, arguably the most intimate moment of our entire liturgy. This solidly structured and singable tune is stunning and stormy. It does not shy away from the realities of the soul wrestling with sin. Similar to “O the deep, deep love of Jesus,” there is a foreboding feeling of waves or rapids flowing throughout the melody. But the drowning soul is not without hope. Halfway through the hymn verse, the melody shifts from minor to major. The rhythmic “rapids” calm down to simple half notes before climbing to the phrase’s peak in a delayed climax. When I sing this hymn, I am always inspired toward greater intimacy and union with Christ. Its theme is reminiscent of John Donne’s poetry, written 150 years earlier:
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Link to sheet music: http://www.hymnary.org/page/fetch/TH1990/528/high
Fernando Ortega recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffUsrMJAxeQ
Link to accompaniment in “congregation-friendly” key: http://www.opc.org/hymn.html?hymn_id=371
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Text: Edward Perronett, st. 1-5 (1780); John Rippon, St. 6 (1787)
Tune: Coronation, Oliver Holden (1793)
It has been said that every Sunday is a little Easter. This Christ-exalting hymn is a poetic allusion to Philippians 2:9-11: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The opening verse speaks of bringing forth the royal “Diadem,” which is a jeweled crown or headband worn as a symbol of sovereignty. This hymn has a very complicated history, and the surviving six verses in our hymnal are hard to trace to their true origins. The verses have been altered many times, but the refrain has not. Can you find the refrain in this hymn? There are actually two short refrains within each verse, both with the same text. Within each verse we sing a short double refrain: “and crown Him Lord of all.” This comes after exhortations to “all,” “martyrs,” “Israel’s chosen race,” “sinners,” “every tribe,” and finally “we.” Everyone is called upon to extol Christ the triumphant King. No one is left out. We all get an invitation to the praise party. Our enthusiastic RSVP should stand for Radical Shouts of Victory and Praise. The tune demands this of us, as it reserves the highest notes for the first refrain, and lifts the voice back up for the second. It is a demanding altitude for the voice, and our hymnal contains six verses with two refrains each. May God strengthen the diaphragm of His disciples for these dozen declarations of devotion!