I had a request for some contemporary song ideas for Reformation, which I had sort of jumped over – along with All Saints and Christ the King – to get to Advent.  So here are a few ideas for each of these special Sundays in October and November.
Reformation (Oct 27)
For those who may not be as familiar with Reformation Sunday, it is a day when Lutherans and some Reformed Christians remember the pivotal events in the church of the 16th century.  At its best, however, Reformation is not just a celebration of denominational heritage, but a day to renew our focus on God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  In that light I offer the following suggestions:
1)    Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin’s update to the world’s most famous hymn fits Reformation well with its emphasis on freedom in Christ.
2)    Here I Am to Worship – Tim Hughes.  This modern worship classic helps remind us why we gather – because Jesus came to us and for us.
3)    By Faith – Keith and Kristyn Getty (with Stuart Townend).  These modern hymn-writers from Northern Ireland are often lauded for their theological focus, and for good reason. This very singable tune recalls Hebrews 11 with its focus on reading Scripture through the eyes of faith.  They have also given us…
4)    In Christ Alone – Getty/Townend, with its fitting title.  I won’t tell the copyright police if you change the one troubling lyric in verse 2 from “’Til on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied” to “the wrath of God was set aside.” This keeps the cross a loving act of both Father and Son rather than having God take out his vengeance on Jesus (a distortion of biblical atonement theology).* 
5)    Speak, O Lord – Getty/Townend.  One more from this duo.  God’s Word is a correlative focus of Reformation, and this song asks God to continue to speak to us today.
6)    Every Promise – Getty/Townend.  Ditto.  Last one, I promise.  “I’ll stand on every promise of your word.”   
7)    Your Grace Is Enough – Matt Maher (also recorded by Chris Tomlin).  Good, easy to sing, upbeat opener or closer.
8)    Rock of Ages – Rita Baloche.  Another rocker.  A bit older, but it’s got a good classic rock groove and is loved by many congregations.
9)    Thy Mercy – Sandra McCraken’s update of the old John Stocker hymn was also recorded by her husband Derek Webb and Caedmon’s Call. 
10) A Mighty Fortress – Aaron Schust and Christy Nockels have both recorded songs by this name if you’re looking for updated versions of Luther’s classic language.

* An interesting related story: the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), in forming their new hymnal, asked Getty and Townend if they could change these lyrics to “the love of God was magnified.” They refused, reasoning that it would result in a watered down version of the gospel.  I have to wonder how it would have gone if the hymnal committee would have presented my suggestion above to the hymn writers.

All Saints (Nov 3)
This is a day of remembering all those who have gone to be with God before us, but also to remember the ultimate hope that each of us has in Christ.  
1)    I Will Rise – Chris Tomlin. This poignant song celebrates the destiny each of us has because of Jesus’ resurrection. 
2)    For Those Who Are to Come – Matthew Anderson.  I wrote this one specifically for All Saints, to look forward as well as back.  Listen and find lyrics/chords here.
3)    Gracious Host – Matthew Anderson.  I hesitate to put two of my own songs here, but this is my most oft-sung worship song.  Based on Isaiah and Revelation’s visions of the great feast of nations at the coming of God’s kingdom, it is quite appropriate for this day.  Again, find a recording, lyrics, and chords here.  It could also work for Christ the King.
4)    We Fall Down – Tomlin.  Another song celebrating that moment when we will join all the saints worshipping before the throne.
5)    Come Let Us Worship – Tomlin.  “For we will never be forsaken.”
6)    You Never Let Go – Matt Redman.  This one could also work for Reformation. 

Christ the King (Nov 24)
The church year ends with a festival worshipping Jesus as king, as the New Testament asserts over and over.  But we have a king that rules not by coercive force, but by the power of self-giving love.  Just a list here – I’ll put them in order from faster to slower tempo.  Lots of “epic” going on here as you move down this list. 
1)    Here is Our King – David Crowder. 
2)    Let God Arise – Chris Tomlin.  This was also on my Advent list, and would also work for Reformation.  Now is a great time to introduce it! 
3)    My Redeemer Lives – Reuben Morgan (Hillsong).
4)    O Praise Him – Crowder.
5)    Manifesto – City Harmonic
6)    Lord Reign in Me – Brenton Brown.
7)    Revelation Song – Jennie Lee Riddle.
8)    Be Unto Your Name – Travis Cottrell.
9)    Overcome – Jon Egan.  Just look at the passion in this recording from a church who had just gone through a lot.
10) Wonderful King – Crowder.

It’s interesting to note how the strengths of three of modern worship’s most prolific writing teams come out in these three festivals.  Getty and Townend shine with their emphasis on faith and God’s Word (Reformation); Tomlin’s focus is often on the church worshipping together as one body (All Saints), and Crowder often sings about Jesus’ kingship (Christ the King). 
 


10/21/2013 7:36am

Thanks Matt! There are some good ones in there, some that I did not even relate to those Sundays.

Reply
Matthew Anderson
10/22/2013 2:49pm

Great! Good to hear.

Reply
Sherry
10/21/2013 7:42am

This is so very helpful! Thank you so much!

Reply
Matthew Anderson
10/22/2013 2:50pm

You're welcome! Thanks for reading.

Reply
12/05/2013 12:19am

Dear Pastor Anderson,

Found your blog on a business card, and I'm intrigued by your remarks about the following song:

[4) In Christ Alone – Getty/Townend, with its fitting title. I won’t tell the copyright police if you change the one troubling lyric in verse 2 from “’Til on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied” to “the wrath of God was set aside.” This keeps the cross a loving act of both Father and Son rather than having God take out his vengeance on Jesus (a distortion of biblical atonement theology).*]

ALSO

[* An interesting related story: the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), in forming their new hymnal, asked Getty and Townend if they could change these lyrics to “the love of God was magnified.” They refused, reasoning that it would result in a watered down version of the gospel. I have to wonder how it would have gone if the hymnal committee would have presented my suggestion above to the hymn writers.]

J.H.--I wonder whether just about any re-write wouldn't sound like a distortion of biblical atonement theology to some circles, since the proto-orthodox version of trinitarian doctrine has IMHO created a mess with the whole idea of vicarious atonement. There are atheists I've conversed with, who see the New Testament presentation as a God who sacrifices himself to himself to compensate for the self-inflicted/conflicted desire to create an eternal torture sequence for some of his creation, while reserving eternal bliss for the "redeemed", those who are now exempted from the punishments of sin by belief in the efficacy of the blood sacrifice of Jesus, who some Christians ironically label a 'Pascal' lamb.

I guess this peeve is invested in the association with Jewish atheists, the ones who see a Passover lamb analogy to Jesus as having nothing to do with Passover, and being even more ridiculous as a sin sacrifice that doesn't stay dead. We've encountered perhaps too many half-baked attempts at unpacking the writings of St. Paul, written by Christians to whom an Old Testament reference in the road is a 'detour' sign, instead of an invitation to realize the original context of that reference the epistle is attempting to evoke. By this token, most epistle writings are 'watered-down', because they were written by people to whom 'scripture' meant 'Septuagint'. More specifically, the authors had prejudicial familiarity with the Jewish literature.

Here's an Catholic/Orthodox summation of the Paschal lamb analogy, whose author spells out reasonably well, 'why' a vicarious lamb made good sense to New Testament Jewish Christians.

http://loveofyourlove.blogspot.com/2008/12/it-pleased-lord-to-bruise-him-his-soul.html

J.H.--No, it's not written by me. Another New Testament passage known to many atheists and esteemed somewhat odious, is the verse in Hebrews 2:10,

10 "For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings."

It seems Hebrews hasn't sufficiently established Pauline authorship for many Christians to take it seriously, as a whole; but the priesthood of believers taught by Luther, alluded to in I Peter 2:5, I think is complicated to explain, although I've made the effort on behalf of an atheist or two, opening the book of Job, and his role of a priest for his family and friends. Job perhaps even clarifies the issue of 'who' is propitiated. In Job 33:23-28 the youngest of Job's visitors broaches the idea of a 'ransom' found through intercession.

24 "Then [God] is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom."

I know of no other place where scripture makes it clearer, it's not God being propitiated. He is rather doing the action. And the patience of God with a certain wayward angel is an issue God doesn't undertake to explain to Job, even though it reflects a reason for human misery in general, as well as Job's affliction.

Regards,
Jonathan




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