Happy birthday church! Let the Spirit of the Lord come down!
After being down at Bridgeway Community Church with Nikki Lerner and her amazing 100 person choir I came back refreshed and excited to jump back into our community.
Stef Fontela was down to lead but injured her foot so Angela stepped up to lead. Jeremiah was back in town because we're closing down our rehearsal space so her joined the team on drums.
GOD IS DOING SOMETHING WONDERFUL IN ME - DAVID FRAZIER
We've done this song before under Angela's leadership and I wanted to start off the service with a bang so we dusted this one off. I love the call and answer part in the bridge!
ALABASTER - REND COLLECTIVE
So this is a song that we took from its original folky rendition and Robbie wrote a kicking gospel version of it. A live version of Rend Collective's original is to the right and a recording of the first time we did our version of is below.
HOLY ARE YOU GOD/I JUST WANNA SAY/HOLY SPIRIT
We've been doing this a lot lately and this week we added the chorus from Bethel Music's "Holy Spirit". If you wanna read about that and see the videos check out this blog post from a month or so ago
CHANGED/BLESSED TO BE A WITNESS
"A New Liturgy" is a project by Aaron Niequist and we've done several of their liturgies in church. I took the chorus from his song "Changed" and mashed it together with the chorus Ben Harper's "Blessed to be a witness" as Jen had been talking about what it means for us to be witnesses out of Acts 1:1-11 and talking about how the mission of Orchard Group for starting new churches is a means for us to leverage our own blessing to bless others. Ben Harper's song is to the right and the first 10 minutes of Aaron's liturgy "Blessed to be a blessing" is below
After the dark unraveling service of Good Friday Easter Sunday comes crashing in like a wrecking ball. Punctuated by the liturgy "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" Easter Sunday is full of loud "Hallelujahs" which were not present at all in Lent.
CHRIST IS RISEN - MATT MAHER
Robbie Klein and I took the chorus and bridge of this song and added our own "Hallelujah" chorus to it.
CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY
It was Jen Fisher who introduced me to this hymn. She grew up singing it in her Lutheran church and suggested that she'd like to hear it sung on Easter Sunday. Once again Robbie and I took our surgical musical instruments to this one and crafted our own particular version in a rock shuffle style. I thought this version was pretty kicking when I was looking around online but its nothing like ours!
THE WINTER IS O'ER - BEN GRACE
Last year winter was brutal and as we got into Eastertide I was so blown away the change of seasons and how it lined up with the church calendar that I ended up writing a whole bunch of songs around the theme of Spring. I blogged more about the origin of this song over here.
SUNDAY CAME - GARAGE HYMNAL
Garage Hymnal is my favourite Aussie worship band. I sang in the choir on the live recording of this song and have always loved how it holds back and then finally rings out in triumphant Hallelujahs. I feel like this song artfully tells the span of Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
BECAUSE HE LIVES - BILL AND GLORIA GAITHER
Ummm. I love this song. I first encountered it on the David Crowder*Band's last album as the Gaither hymns movement wasn't as influential in Australia as it was here in the US. I particularly loved the poetry of a band closing our their final album together with a song about facing an unknown tomorrow without fear. So that's the version I've posted here.
For a few years now I've been fascinated by the traditional Good Friday service known as "Tenebrae" which translates from Latin as "shadows" or "darkness". It is distinctive for its gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms is chanted or recited.
As we walked through the story leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and watched the light of life snuffed out by human hands we went from a loud, full band to solo a cappella. On top of using a traditional service pattern I thought it'd be incredible to only sing reworked hymns as the theology and depth of these old lyrics are so rich.
Jonathan opened our service with this liturgy:
Giver of life, we wait with you to offer the hope that comes from the cross to earth’s darkest places.
Where pain is deep and affection is denied:
let love break through.
Where justice is destroyed,
let sensitivity to right spring up.
Where hope is crucified,
let faith persist.
Where peace has no chance,
let passion live on.
Where truth is trampled underfoot,
let the struggle continue.
Where fear paralyzes,
let forgiveness break through.
Eternal God, reach into the silent darkness of our souls with the radiance of the cross.
O you who are the bearer of all pain,
have mercy on us.
Giver of life,
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us. Amen.
HOW DEEP THE FATHER'S LOVE FOR US - KENOSIS
Travis Eades, Forefront Manhattan's Associate Pastor, introduced me to this version of this song and I loved how the breaks in between the lines allows you to take in the lyrics slowly.
JESUS PAID IT ALL - KRISTIAN STANFILL
Kristian Stanfill added a bridge to this hymn and brought it back into the mainstream again.
NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD
This has to be one of my all time favourite hymns and I believe we've sung it at every Good Friday service since I've been on staff at Forefront. There are so many different versions & every worship leader has their own version. I love All Sons and Daughters sound so I thought I'd put up their version.
'TIS A POINT I LONG TO KNOW/HOW HE LOVES
Full disclosure - I found this old hymn by John Newton at 1pm on Good Friday. I had been searching for a song that would be sung as a response to our reading of Peter's denial but it seems that the church doesn't love singing about how we betray our Lord.
So after my using my brains trust at the Liturgy Fellowship I found a scrap of this hymn on Youtube. I instantly liked it and bounced it off Lindsey to see if I wasn't alone.
We've often used the chorus of "How He Loves" in a medley at church and I loved how this melody fitted over the minor key of this hymn lament and acted as a counterpoint to the lyrics which are full of doubt and self loathing.
I've uploaded our version here on the right
HE NEVER SAID A MUMBLIN' WORD - WELCOME WAGON
Even though I wanted to go completely with hymns I cheated on this one a little bit. I heard this first at a house show in Williamsburg a few months back and was instantly taken by it. The simple and chant like nature of this song mirrors hymn like structures and I thought it would fit in the mix easily. The Welcome Wagon is a married couple, the Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique, who are based at Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Williamsburg.
WERE YOU THERE
Amy Leon did such an incredible rendition of this to close out our service and I'll get it uploaded online soon. She was inspired by this version below on the left & her version is on the right
As we step into the season of Lent and wrestle with the themes of hardship & harvest let us pray together. The word “Lento” as a musical marker means “slowly” and so in this season we will use the Biblical word “Selah” which means something like “Stop & Listen” to slow our pace in prayer. Please take a few moments to reflect on the words you just read:
Here's a Spotify playlist from this week's worship. Read below for more stories and info on the setlist.
"Clean" - Taylor Swift
This song begins with the lyric "The drought was the very worst". Ruth 1 starts with "there was a famine in the land". Lindsey and I have been obsessing over this record and so I thought it'd be cheeky to start our Lent series with a song from the "princess of pop". There's a lot of imagery in this song surrounding death (drowning, flowers dying, sky turning to black and butterflies turning to dust) but ultimately all the chaos results in a new morning and a pronouncement of "clean"
Of course the original isn't on Spotify or YouTube so here's a cover:
"Dust We Are And Shall Return" & "Your Love Remains" - The Brilliance
The Brilliance is my favourite worship band of all time. Their artful mix of gorgeous classically infused strings and piano music with liturgically charged lyrics just gets me every time. David Gungor is the worship pastor at Trinity Grace in TriBeCa and this week my small group and a few others from the worship team went to worship with them on Ash Wednesday. Here's David talking about the song "Dust We Are and Shall Return" and Ash Wednesday:
They've recently released a new album "Brother" but its their Lent and Advent records that have had me transfixed for the last few years. We even took this dark brooding song and did a dance version complete with autotuned vocals at a teen conference last year and it was a song that definitely spoke to people. I hope you enjoy singing their songs because I hope to continue to use their music throughout Lent
"In Feast or Fallow" - Sandra McCracken
I had the extraordinary privilege of seeing Sandra last year in an intimate house concert in Williamsburg. Her honesty and raw talent combined with the new melodies she was weaving for her soon to be released Psalms project took my breath away multiple times during the night.
I'm thankful for Bruce Benedict's blog that often gives me great resources. He had already done a series on Ruth in Lent and he got me thinking about the themes of agriculture that run through this book and the season of Lent. I just love these lyrics:
When the fields are dry, and the winter is long
Blessed are the meek, the hungry, the poor
When my soul is downcast, and my voice has no song
For mercy, for comfort, I wait on the Lord
In the harvest feast or the fallow ground,
My certain hope is in Jesus found
My lot, my cup, my portion sure
Whatever comes, we shall endure.
Whatever comes, we shall endure
"Lead Us Back" - Sojourn
Honestly I found this song by a lyric search in our Planning Center. Lent is a season where confession and repentance are amplified and this song just hit me as I read through the message this week. The truth that we seek comfort, security and power over the needs of others rattles me and Pope Francis' reminder this week to "fast from indifference towards others" pushed me to put this song in the set. While Lent leads us through the valley of the shadow of death its a long slow walk back to life in God and so this lyric was a perfect fit for me:
Weʼre a valley of dry bones
Lead us back to life in you.
"I Shall Not Want" - Audrey Assad
This is a song off one of my favourite worship records of last year and we've been singing it a fair bit at Forefront Brooklyn. Its based on the "Litany of Humility" which Lance blogged about after we prayed it during our series praying through our values in September 2014.
In the beginning of his message Jonathan asked us the question "what's the story you tell yourself in your head?" and so I felt that this song directly addressed the anxiety all of us carry around, whether that be people pleasing or attempting to look strong or the fear that we're not good enough. I wanted us to leave the service on Sunday with the truth ringing in our ears that in God we shall not want. In famine or feast God is all we need.