Looking for a last-minute Easter song? Check out Beautiful Rescuer by David Walker. Great songwriting, acoustic and full-band versions, and free mp3 and chord chart downloads. What more could you ask for? Later this week we’ll be writing string parts for it. When we do, I’ll upload them here. Also, you might be interested in [...]
Anyone serving in a church, paid or unpaid, can identify with the strain Glenn Packiam shares in his recent post about the tension between busy church life and the contemplative life. In it he quotes Gregory (Bishop of Rome, b. 540), who wrote: “On every side I am tossed by the waves of business, and [...]
(click the pics for larger versions) Especially if you aren’t used to working with lighting, it’s easy to default to traditional methods of changing the look of your stage. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes building a set, repainting walls, or working with huge yardages of fabric can be exactly the thing, and the result can [...]
Looking for a last-minute Easter song? Check out Beautiful Rescuer by David Walker. Great songwriting, acoustic and full-band versions, and free mp3 and chord chart downloads. What more could you ask for?
Later this week we’ll be writing string parts for it. When we do, I’ll upload them here.
Here’s a meditation we did last year in a worship gathering. It seemed like the approach to Good Friday and Easter is the right time to post it. One of the most important things to do when contemplating is to leave time for it. I’ll let the ambiguity of that phrase stand. Be still. Don’t rush on to the next thing. Ask God to help you be present to Him as completely as you can, rather than dividing your time and attention. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. In fact, approaching this meditation from the context of Colossians 3:15-17 is the way to go:
Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. -Psalm 51:1,17
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you
there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen
wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Almighty
God, our Redeemer, in our weakness we have failed to be your messengers of
forgiveness and hope. Renew us by your Holy Spirit, that we may follow your
commands and proclaim your reign of love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Our creative team is always looking for ways to engage people in worship differently. Here is a multi-sensory meditation from Sunday’s worship gathering. As we explained Sunday, it’s great to be able to participate in spiritual practices together as a church body at our “family feast”, but also the goal is to learn to practice them at home as individuals, continuing to “feast on the abundance of [God's] house” throughout the week (Ps 36:8). “Late Have I Loved You” is from Gungor’s Beautiful Things.
First, wait a minute in silence before God, and then briefly express praise and thanks to Him.
Meditate on the beginning of this reading in silence, and then press play and meditate on the rest of the reading and the image as you listen. Take your time.
The Conversion of Saint Paul
“O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night….
“I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever….
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you…. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.“
-The Confessions of Saint Augustine
Going further: Read and meditate on the account of Saint Paul’s conversion in Acts 9
This is a tough prayer. It is a prayer for anyone who is probing the extent of his own selfishness and gathering his wits to fight it. It is a prayer for anyone who feels like her faith is real but her mind and heart still belong to herself instead of to God. It is a prayer for you and me—people who too often worship the gods of comfort and convenience, but desire the courage to ask for something greater.
Justify my soul, O God, but also from Your fountains fill my will with fire.
Shine in my mind, although perhaps this means ‘be darkness to my experience,’ but occupy my heart with Your tremendous Life. Let my eyes see nothing in the world but Your glory, and let my hands touch nothing that is not for Your service. Let my tongue taste no bread that does not strengthen me to praise Your great mercy. I will hear Your voice and I will hear all harmonies You have created, singing Your hymns. Sheep’s wool and cotton from the field shall warm me enough that I may live in your service; I will give the rest to Your poor. Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving You glory.
Therefore keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the death of deadly sin which puts hell in my soul. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from the sins that eat a man’s flesh with irresistible fire until he is devoured. Keep me from loving money in which is hatred, from avarice and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Stanch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy.
Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.
But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.
For there is only one thing that can satisfy love and reward it, and that is You alone.
Thanks to the notational labors of my dear friend and cellist extraordinaire Jon Wiest, I’m able to post some of the string parts we’ve arranged for our worship gatherings over the past year. Of course, strings are C instruments, so you can use these parts with any C instruments you want (but beware the occasional tenor clef). If you use these, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) We improvise. A lot. So while some of these have notated parts for the full song, many of them will have chorus/bridge parts but leave you to improvise using chord tones on the verses, etc. Sometimes a part will just drop out because that player was improvising (for instance, no cello part means the cellist was playing bass notes from the chord chart for that section). If you’re looking for instrumental parts for a large ensemble or you need entire songs written out, you should check out Praise Charts or similar sites.
2) We chose whatever key fit our vocalists and congregation best, so they are not usually in the original keys. But let’s be honest—your congregation can’t sing in the original key, either, so just be nice to them and use these keys. :)
3) There are no lyrics and usually no chords because of copyright, so while the song sections are labeled, you’ll need to pair these with chord charts to make them useful. We use charts from SongSelect, so often these arrangements will fit well with SongSelect chord charts.
4) We’re sharing these as Creative Commons CC BY-NC. That means you can use/remix them, but please give attribution (within reason, of course—if you’re using them in your church’s worship services, don’t worry about it, but for anything else, please attribute). Also, you cannot use them commercially/for profit without permission. Click the link above for more info. Contact us if you have questions. And please let us know how you are using them! We love hearing what you’re up to.
As we arrange more, we’ll post updates here.
Key: Vn=violin | Va=viola | Vc=cello || Br=bridge | Ch=chorus | I=intro | PC=prechorus | V=verse
When a cello part drops out, play bass notes through that section.