May 16, 2013 by
Categories: Music | Worship
Recently I posted on Twitter:
The fact that Psalms doesn’t include a soundtrack or notation clues us in to what God values most in our worship songs.
I find it fascinating that God gave us a “songbook” with numerous musical references, but no actual music. It’s not that music is unimportant. Badly played or written music can make great theology sound obscure or unappealing. Great music can make shallow lyrics sound profound and incredibly moving. Which is why when we’re deciding what to sing congregationally, we want to give the greatest attention to the lyrics we’re singing.
In response to my tweet someone asked:
@bkauflin Is it not possible to worship without words?
Briefly, the answer is yes, especially when we think of worship in the “all of life” sense. We can worship God, or anything for that matter, without words. We do it all the time. The sight of a sunset over the ocean, a newborn baby, or a loved one can leave us speechless in wonder. But in my tweet I was specifically referencing the songs in our gatherings. While we can certainly worship God while listening to or playing instrumental music, here are a few reasons why it’s crucial to keep the connection between congregational worship and words strong.
Words are the primary way God has revealed himself to us and relates to us.
We use words because God is a speaking God. From the garden of Eden, words have been God’s primary means of interacting with us. At Mount Sinai, God met the Israelites with thunder and lightning, thick clouds, and an ear-splitting trumpet blast. Quite the worship experience. But the most signiﬁcant aspect of that encounter was God giving them the “Ten Words” (Deuteronomy 4:2–12). God has always wanted us to know more of him than can be conveyed through impressions, images, or sounds, as powerful as they may be.
David was a skilled musician of profound emotions. But when it came to worshiping God, it was his words, not his music, that God chose to preserve for us in Scripture (the point of my tweet).
When Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity, Ezra sought to reestablish temple worship. So he and the other priests stood on a platform and read “from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8). God’s Word provided the foundation for the repentance, gratefulness, praise, and celebration that followed.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for basing their worship more on traditions of men than on God’s commands (Matthew 15:3–9). The early Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Paul encouraged Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture and commanded him to “preach the word” (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2). We are to “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” as we sing” (Colossians 3:16).
God means for words, especially His Word, to be at the heart of our engaging with him.
Words are what we use to define God, ourselves, and our world.
Among other things, words tell us how God has acted in history and what God is actually like. Words inform us that we are sinners who deserve the wrath of God but that Jesus has come to suffer the wrath of God in our place, purchase our forgiveness, and reconcile us to God. Words also tell us that creation was once in harmony with God’s will but through our rebellion became subject to decay and futility. We are not evolving into something better but experiencing the damaging effects of the fall until the day when Jesus returns for his bride and makes all things right. Words also enable us to distinguish between experiences rooted in musical emotion or eternal truth.
Worship is more than words, but it’s not less than words.
Encounters with God are sometimes difficult to define. But wordless worship is not somehow better than worship with words. Worship without words can never communicate objective truth and God is the defining, objective reality in which we live and move. Experiences, whether audibly through music or visually through art, are in large part subjective. The ultimate goal of our worship is not to reach a state of feeling without thinking. And Revelation indicates we’ll be using words (without sin!) in the new heavens and earth.
Words enable us to worship God together.
Words enable us to think and say the same things together, rooting our unity in the gospel and not simply in a shared experience. A hundred people listening to a song being played can have a hundred different thoughts about what is happening. As my friend Jon Payne has said, “A picture is worth 1000 words. The problem is, the viewer gets to decide what those words are.” There will be some variation when we hear/proclaim words together, but there’s greater potential for unity in our understanding and expression. It’s one of the reasons God has us sing together and not simply hum or whistle.
Words complete the act of worship.
I can’t make this point better than C.S. Lewis, who wrote in Reflections on the Psalms, “But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” My love for my wife leads me to say something. Again and again and again. I want her and others to know my feelings. So it is in our relationship with God. Worship works its way out into words.
So by all means, let us thank God for music and treasure those times we’re dumbstruck as we consider the unparalleled greatness, holiness, beauty, and mercy of God in Jesus Christ. But let’s also remember that God redeemed us to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
* This post originally appeared on Bob Kauflin's website, Worship Matters.
Bob is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music. His responsibilities include equipping pastors and musicians in the theology and practice of congregational worship, and contributing to Sovereign Grace CDs. He is a pastor and one of the worship leaders at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, KY. He is the author of, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness. Bob blogs at Worship Matters and hosts the bi-annual WorshipGod conference.
May 15, 2013 by
Categories: Music | Video
Grace and Peace (acoustic version, performed and written by Joel Sczebel) is a three verse meditation on the wonder that grace and peace have come to us through Jesus Christ. This song is based on Romans 1:7, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
A stuido version of Grace and Peace will be included on Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans scheduled to release June 27, 2013. Keep an eye on Sovereign Grace Music's website as the release date approaches, and watch the promo video below for a look at what's been happening during production.
May 6, 2013 by
Categories: Music | Video | Worship
Production is in full swing for Sovereign Grace Music's upcoming album Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans.
The album is set to release June 27, 2013. Keep an eye on Sovereign Grace Music's website as the release date approaches, and watch the promo video below for a look at what's been happening during production.
April 16, 2013 by
Among the many discounted albums at our store, Sovereign Grace Music MP3 song downloads are just $0.99 each through iTunes and Amazon ($1 on Bandcamp).
If you're new to Sovereign Grace Music and wondering where to start, below are some of our top recommendations. The list is a mash-up of bestsellers and personal favorites from some of the worship leaders in Sovereign Grace churches.
- Before the Throne of God Above
- Show Us Christ
- All I Have Is Christ
- Jesus, Thank You
- Let Your Kingdom Come
- Oh the Deep, Deep Love
- I Will Glory in My Redeemer
- O Great God
- Behold Our God
- The Glories of Calvary
And if Spanish is your primary language, you might be interested in our latest release, El Dios Que Adoramos (The God We Worship). It has been the top selling ablum on iTunes in the Dominican Republic since its release, eleven days ago.
To learn more about Sovereign Grace Music, see the website, visit the Worship Matters blog, join us at one of this year's WorshipGod Conferences, or watch this brief video detailing the mission and vision of Sovereign Grace Music.
April 4, 2013 by
If you don’t speak Spanish, you might not be interested in our latest release, El Dios Que Adoramos (The God We Worship).
But then again, it might not make any difference. It’s that good.
The album came about as a result of our relationship with Miguel Nunez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Internacional (IBI) and host of the Por Su Causa conference. For the past few years Miguel has been a dear friend and supporter of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace Music. His church has been translating and singing our songs for a while now, and musicians from his church have attended the WorshipGod conference. They’ve also been a great encouragement to our Spanish speaking Sovereign Grace churches in Juarez and elsewhere.
Last September, I had the joy of being invited, along with C.J. Mahaney, Jeff Purswell, and Mauricio Velarde, to participate in Por Su Causa. It was an amazing time, in spite of my mere three years of high school Spanish. Everyone we met of the 7000+ attendees was welcoming, encouraging, and seemed passionate for the gospel of Jesus Christ and his church.
The highlight for me, though, had to be Sunday night. The musicians from IBI, ably led by Luis Nunez, held two back to back events where they sang 16 songs for corporate worship, 13 of them from Sovereign Grace Music. Jonathan and Sarah Jerez contributed three more that were so good I started thinking maybe it was time for us to start translating Spanish songs into English. Among the Sovereign Grace songs on the album are Before the Throne of God Above (Ante el Trono Celestial), All I Have is Christ (Mi Vida es Cristo), Behold our God (Contempla a Dios), I Will Glory in My Redeemer (Me Glorío en Jesucristo), and Let Your Kingdom Come (Venga Tu Reino).
El Dios Que Adoramos is the result of that night. Produced by Steve Cook, it’s a partnership with our friends in the DR, combining the resources of our songs with their skilled musicianship and artistry. If you know any hispanic churches or Christians who are looking for gospel-rich, theologically informed, skillfully played and sung songs for praising God, this album doesn’t disappoint. In fact on hearing it, one of our pastors asked if we could start making our English albums sound like this.
To give you a taste you can download their arrangement of Ante el Trono Celestial (Before the Throne of God Above).
We discovered a problem when all the songs were mixed and we were about to go to mastering. There was too much music to fit on one CD. We ended up tidying some of the transitions and leaving off Allí en la Cruz, a beautiful song by Mauricio Velarde from our album of the same name. Fortunately, it’s included as a bonus track on all downloads and will be on the DVD.
Guitar charts and samples are available at the Sovereign Grace Music website. You can download the album at Bandcamp or Amazon. CDs will be available soon from the Sovereign Grace webstore.
For those who didn’t know, this is our 4th Spanish CD. If you haven’t heard them yet, check out Sea la Gloria Solo a Ti, Allí en la Cruz, and Eres Dios.
* This post originally appeared on Bob Kauflin's website, Worship Matters.
Bob Kauflin is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music. His responsibilities include equipping pastors and musicians in the theology and practice of congregational worship, and contributing to Sovereign Grace CDs. He is a pastor and one of the worship leaders at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, KY. He is the author of, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness. Bob blogs at Worship Matters and hosts the bi-annual WorshipGod conference.
April 2, 2013 by
Recorded live at Por Su Causa 2012, Sovereign Grace Music and La IBI present El Dios que Adoramos with the intention of serving Spanish speaking churches with 16 songs that are theologically rich, gospel-centered, and musically excellent.
Pre-order El Dios que Adoramos today for only $7. You'll receive an immediate download of the song El Dios que Adoramos and save $2 off the digital album price in the process.
The Digital Album releases Thursday, April 4
And the Physical CD will be made available Thursday, April 11
March 29, 2013 by
Categories: Music | Easter
“He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” Matthew 28:6
These words, spoken by an angel to the women at Jesus’s tomb, changed history forever. Christ’s resurrection was more than a display of raw supernatural power. It was the single event that assures us that his payment for our sins has been accepted. God’s wrath is satisfied. Death is defeated. The powers of darkness are overcome. Sin’s dominion has been broken. And the life of the age to come has dawned.
The songs on the Risen album from Sovereign Grace Music celebrate these realities, experienced and enjoyed by all who place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
As a gift to you this Easter we're giving away the song "You Have Been Raised."
Right-click to download, or listen here:
Free resources (lyrics, charts, lead sheets, etc.) for this song can also be downloaded here.
And don't miss out on the:
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
February 12, 2013 by
Categories: Conferences | Music
Being faithful is hard. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t make for good sound bites or Facebook status updates. Being faithful isn’t sensational, doesn’t attract big crowds, and almost never makes the headlines. And when it does, the focus is usually on success and statistics, not faithfulness.
But being faithful is something God highly values.
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? (Prov. 20:6)
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (Prov. 28:20)
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Mt. 25:21)
Why the emphasis on being faithful? Because God wants to make us like himself:
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:9)
But what does faithfulness look like? As a leader? As a musician? As a sound engineer? As a songwriter? How do we make sure we’re keeping the main things the main things? How do we resist the world’s definitions of success and pursue what matters to God?
We’ll be discussing these questions and more at WorshipGod 2013. In the main sessions you’ll hear from Kevin DeYoung, Craig Cabaniss, Kevin Twit, Dr. Russ Moore, and Don Whitney on how God calls us to be faithful to receive his grace, proclaim the gospel, serve others, grow in our knowledge and skills, and prepare people for eternal realities.
You’ll also be able to attend 4 of 28 seminars, with topics including planning your meeting, the leader’s relationships, working with other generations, songwriting, making room for the Spirit’s leading, prayer, sound applications, as well as vocal and instrumental classes.
At WorshipGod East you’ll have the opportunity to attend pre-conference intensives in the areas of basic sound, contemporary piano, choir, and essential guitar skills. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up early.
As in previous years, WorshipGod 2013 will include plenty of giveaways, free on-site lunches, a selective bookstore, lots of laughter, and opportunities to meet hundreds of like-minded believers devoted to worshiping God in spirit and truth.
Most of all, it will be an opportunity to encounter God, and be trained, refreshed, and revitalized for the role you play in serving your local church.
As you look around the WorshipGod site we hope you get inspired thinking about all the ways you could benefit from joining us. If you have any questions, please email WorshipGod@sovgracemin.org.
We’d love to see you there!
*Registration will open later this week.
January 23, 2013 by
Our songwriter's retreat was a success. Thank you for your prayers! In today's post, Doug Plank provides us with some reflections from the retreat and shares one of the songs he submitted for our upcoming album.
This past week I did my part to fill the otherwise more subdued Southern Baptist Theological Seminary campus with many noisy attempts at songwriting. I spent the week writing and collaborating with nearly 20 other Sovereign Grace songwriters under the direction of Bob Kauflin. It was a seriously splendid time. I was truly honored to take part and I gladly went representing Crossway Church! In speaking with many of the other writers and Sovereign Grace staff (including Bob and CJ Mahaney), they all asked how the church is doing, and I was able to report about the grace and goodness of God among us.
Our focus at this retreat was to write songs drawn from the pages of the book of Romans – such glorious sixteen chapters of grace, law, spirit, death, life, righteousness and Christ. It is hoped that this new album with these worship songs will be released at WorshipGod West, June 27-29. I believe nearly sixty songs were submitted by the end of the retreat, which certainly gives Bob, Steve Cook, and the Sovereign Grace music team much to work with as they start pulling together the Romans worship CD.
One of the songs that I brought to the retreat that is under consideration for this upcoming album was “Rescue Me” – a song drawing from Paul’s words of struggle in Romans, chapter 7. How we need our Lord’s rescue, even daily!
* This post originally appeared on the Crossway Church blog.
Doug Plank is a pastor at Crossway Church located in Millersville, Pennsylvania, where he oversees worship, singles, and young adults. Doug and his wife, Brenda, have five children. You can listen to some of Doug's songs here.
January 16, 2013 by
Sovereign Grace songwriters from across the country will gather in Louisville, Kentucky the next four days to write for an upcoming album based on Paul’s letter the Romans.
It all kicks off this evening over dinner, after which Dr. Esther Crookshank, professor from Southern Seminary, will teach on techniques that hymnwriters have used through the ages. Thursday morning the songwriters will gather for an extended time of prayer before they scatter to small groups to begin the writing and rewriting process. Over the next month or so we’ll probably consider more than 80 songs for the Romans album, picking the best 12 to record.
Bob Kauflin, Director of Sovereign Grace Music, shared in more detail the specifics of how these songs are written, evaluated, and improved in the post, Where Do Sovereign Grace Songs Come From?, from the Worship Matters blog.
In this post, Bob provides us with a helpful explanation to why we write songs, produce albums, and hold WorshipGod conferences:
Why do we do this? Because God’s saving acts in history and in our lives demand new songs. Because 1000 tongues or a 1000 songs will never be enough. Because Jesus Christ is a great Savior worthy of unending praise. Because the Word of God is eternal and life-changing. Because this is one small way we can contribute to building up the church, comforting God’s people, and advancing the gospel, all for the glory of God.
And because, in the words of King David, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD” (Ps. 40:3). And that’s our prayer.
We anticipate sharing with you the fruit of this retreat with the release of this album at WorshipGod West, June 27-29.
Please join us in praying for this songwriter's retreat, for the good of the church and our Savior’s glory.
*For more on Soveriegn Grace Music, watch this video that is designed to help you better understand the part music plays in our mission to build and plant local churches for the glory of God, and the joy we have in doing it together as a family of churches.