He is Good | Psalm 23 | Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

He is Good | Psalm 23 | Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

Liturgy Lesson: June 2, 2019
Call to Worship: Ps. 107:1-9; Ps. 104:24, 27-33; Ps. 111:1-5 with He is Good (refrain)
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah! (#57)
Reading: Luke 12:22-31
Confession/Assurance of Pardon: Jn. 6:47-51; Ps. 34:5,8,22
Hymns of Assurance: Psalm 23 (Morton); Wonderful, Merciful Savior
Reading of the Word: Luke 11:3
Doxology: #731
Sermon: “How to Pray: Supplication” Rev. Shiv Muthukumar
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord’s Supper: I Hunger and I Thirst; Alleluia, Sing to Jesus;
At the Lamb’s High Feast (#420)
Closing Hymn: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (#598)

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
– Matt. 4:4

My wife makes the most amazing homemade bread. I loaf it so munch. Here’s a toast to her! This may sound crumby, but her bread is so much butter than all the others. It’s so good that, no matter how little dough I bring home, we always feel like the upper crust. Most people buy all their bread, but she goes against the grain and meets that knead for us. Wheat be spending so much more, or at yeast our budget would rise, if her culinary efforts did not baguette such abundance. How many days do we go without bread? Naan! OK, I know this has gone a rye, so I bake your pardon!

Bread is the main ingredient for this week’s liturgy. Shiv is cooking up a sermon on the famous line in the Lord’s prayer, “give us this day our daily bread.” My hope is that Christ, the bread of life, would nourish us with his presence this week. May the sweet aroma of His Spirit fill the sanctuary, and may we “taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Ps. 34:8). The words of Isaiah are an invitation to all of us as we gather to worship this week:

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live…”
– Isaiah 55:2-3a

Hear, that your soul may live! Receive the richness of His word. This week’s liturgy will be a bountiful buffet! We will carve off huge, fat slices of scripture and chew on them. Our call to worship will be a litany of God’s provision from the Psalms. After hearing each excerpt we will have a chance to respond by singing:

He is good! He is good!
His love endures forever!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

(listen here)

Our opening hymn is basically a musical rendering of Psalm 146 (more on that below). A comforting and challenging section of Luke 12 will usher us into a time of confession, and then we will sing Isaac Watts’ rendering of Psalm 23 for our assurance of pardon.

The Lord my shepherd is,
I shall be well supplied;
since he is mine and I am his,
what can I want beside?
He leads me to the place
where heavenly pasture grows,
where living waters gently pass,
and full salvation flows.
If e’er I go astray,
he will my soul reclaim,
and guide me in his own right way
for his most holy Name.
In sight of all my foes
you will a table spread:
my cup with blessings overflows,
and joy exalts my head.
The bounties of your love
shall crown my following days;
nor from your house will I remove,
nor cease to speak your praise!

(Listen here)

And that is all before the word is preached, and the table is spread. What a feast! What a joy to gather in the banquet hall every Sunday. To honor our King, to feast on Christ, the bread of life, broken for us. Mr. Watts had it right. Our cup with blessings overflows. May we never cease to sing Christ’s praise!

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah
Text: from Psalm 146, The Psalter 1912
Tune: RIPLEY, based on Gregorian Chant

Sometimes the simplest ingredients make the best hymns. Here we have an organic hymn made with only the essentials. So, I won’t say much about it. Rather, I’ll list the basics of what’s in the recipe, and then let you enjoy the goodness of the result.

Scripture (flour)
The joy of the Lord (oil of gladness)
Holy Spirit (living water)
The resurrection of Jesus (yeast)
Faith (salt)
Praise (sugar)

Mix together, and then store in a heart that is warmed by the love of God. It is important to note that without the yeast, all you are left with is a useless clump of playdough!

This recipe has been passed down through generations and can be used to bake up any sort of praise for any meal. For breakfast you can have Gaither buns, Fanny’s French Toast, or my favorite “Biscuits and Getty.” For lunch you can make Wesley’s whole-wheat, praise-chorus pretzels, or Taize tortillas. For dinner I recommend a simple Psalm pita with humble hummus. If you want to go old school you can make Chant ciabatta, Byzantine bagels, or the more complicated polyphonic pumpernickel. More simple and basic classics include the Methodist muffins or the always excellent Watts scones. When done well, any of these will inspire a hearty “Challahlujah”!

But the hymn we serve up for this Sunday is a simple biblical brioche. All four slices are laid out below (in italics). They are preceded by the heavenly manna that inspired them.

(Ps. 146:1-4)
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

1. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die, to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

(Ps. 146:5-7a)
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever,
who executes justice for the oppressed.

2. Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.
Heav’n and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness he will maintain.

(Ps. 146:7b-9)
He gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

3. Food he daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning prisoner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger he befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

(Ps. 146:10)
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

4. Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all God reigns for ever,
Through all ages he is king;
Unto him, your God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.

Congregational recording
Sheet music

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!
Text: W. Chatterton Dix (1866)
Tune: HYFRYDOL, Rowland Prichard (1830)

“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God members of every tribe and language and nation.’”
– Rev. 5:9

All the talk of rising dough is appropriate for this week, because this is Ascension Sunday on the liturgical calendar. In this hymn we are reminded that though Christ physically left earth in the ascension, he does not leave us “as orphans,” but rather remains with us always, all the while interceding for us to the Father. And so we raise our voices to cry “Alleluia!” to the ascended, yet ever-present Christ.

In 1866, William Chatterton Dix wrote this text for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at Ascension services. Originally entitled “Redemption by the Precious Blood,” the five-stanza text (in which stanza 5 was a repeat of stanza 1), was published in Dix’s Altar Songs: Verses on the Eucharist (1867). We will be doing the three-verse version so that we can have these beautiful and fitting words echoing in our ears.

“Alleluia! Bread of heaven, Thou on earth our food, our stay.”

I love the “alleluias” that begin each verse. They create a joyful tone of exuberant praise for the entire hymn. As we sing, we acclaim the glory of Christ now that the work of redemption is finished (vs. 1 – Rev. 5:9); we are reminded that Christ has ascended but is always present with his people by his Spirit (vs. 2 – Jn. 14:8, Acts 1:9); and we petition Christ to hear the cry of sinners and be our Intercessor (vs. 3 – Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25, 1 Jn. 2:1). The tune we use for this hymn is familiar, and you may associate it with “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners.” It is one of the most beloved Welsh tunes ever written. HYFRYDOL (Welsh for “tuneful” or “pleasant”) was composed by Rowland Hugh Prichard in 1830 when he was only nineteen. Rowland was a textile worker and an amateur musician. This famous tune was published in a children’s hymnal Cyfaill y Cantorion (The Singers’ Friend) in 1844. It has been paired with countless hymn texts over the last 150 years, and it is a staple tune in every hymnal across the globe. I guess you could say, as far as church melodies go, this is our bread and butter.

Congregational recording
Male choir singing in the original Welsh
Instrumental version on a lap dulcimer