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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday Song Devotions - May 30, 2010

Sing to the King
"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song." Psalm 95:1-2

Author: Billy Foote

The following is from PraiseGathering.com:
Sing to the King - Randy Vader
(Friday, March 24, 2006)

“I love to sing. I love to hear singing. I love the idea of using music for the purpose it was created… to bring praise to God. I love everything about the music of the church except the music of the church I don’t like. Music I don’t like distracts me. Music I don’t like makes me angry. Music I don’t like frustrates my ability to worship.”

How many times have we heard comments like these? When I am confronted by dear saints who struggle with this, I always start the conversation with . . . I don’t want to talk about what you like. I want to talk about what you don’t like. And when they vent all of their feelings about the awful state of music in the church- I ask the big question. What is the big question? “Are you prepared to believe that God can use something for His glory that you can’t stand?!”

I certainly have my preferences – but as a song writer and publisher and minister - I try to not let my personal preferences get confused with my Theological absolutes. Because something does not speak to me culturally or does not fall into the realm of my own taste does not mean that it isn’t speaking to someone else.

Psalm 40 tells us that God gave us a song – a song of praise – but He did not tell us what it sounded like… in fact, He did not say that many will hear the song and their lives will be changed… He said that many will SEE and their lives will be changed. I hope those who are trying to praise the Lord don’t see some saints with arms folded and angry looks on their faces or worse yet – getting up and walking out! And lest you think I am above the argument, I am sorry to confess that I have been guilty of all of these. My prayer is that we would spend more time focusing on who we have come to worship rather than how we are going about it. That is where the Scriptures put the emphasis… that should tell us something.

Psalm 40 (A David psalm)
"I waited and waited and waited for God. At last He looked; finally He listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God."

Psalm 95:1-7
"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care."

How Great Thou Art
"O LORD our LORD, how excellent is Thy Name in all the earth!  who has set Thy glory above the heavens." - Psalm 8:1

Author: English words written by Stuart K. Hine around 1933. (inspired by the original which was written in swedish by Swedish pastor, Carl Boberg in 1886)

The original song was actually a poem written by Pastor Carl Boberg in 1886 and was entitled, "O Store Gud".  His inspiration for this text was said to have come from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden.  He was suddenly caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun.  Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees.  The experience prompted the pastor to fall to his knees in humble adoration of His mighty God.  He penned his exaltation in a nine-stanza poem beginning with the Swedish words, "O Store Gud, nar jad den varld besgader."  Several years later Boberg was attending a meeting in the Province of Varmland and was surprised to hear the congregation sing his poem to the tune of an old Swedish melody.

Not long after it was written, it was then translated into German by Manfred von Glehn and entitled, "Wie gross bist Du."  Later in 1925, the Reverend E Gustav Johnson of North Park College in Chicago, IL made the first literal English translation fromt he Swedish test.  This translation is quite different from the test that we know today but can still be found in some hymnals.  Johnson's literal translation of the Swedish test is entitled, "O Mighty God, When I Behold the Wonder."
In 1927, I. S. Prokhanoff came upon the German version and translated it into the Russian language.
In 1933, the Reverend S. K. Hine and his wife, English missionaried, were ministering the the people of the Ukraine.  It was there that they learned the Russian translation of "O Store Gud" from a congregation of Ukrainians.

Later, while they were crossing into Sub-Carpathian Russia, where the mountain scenery was so beautiful, they began to write original English lyrics to the song inspired by unforgettable experiences in the Carpathian mountains.  This is where they wrote the first three verses that we sing today.  The fourth was written later upon their return to England. (Source: 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck) 

Note from Kim:
I think what is most intriguing about this song is the fact that it is not even nearly the original version that is sung today.  It was inspired by a version of an interpretation of the original.  Yet we consider it sacred.  I personally believe it is lyrically one of the most beautiful of the hymns currently in our hymnbooks, and I'm sure most would agree.  However, like many of the hymns that we consider to be so sacred it is not the original.  So many would argue that it is inappropriate to change, alter or update the hymns.  However, many of them are updates or alterations in and of themselves.  Interesting. 

I think it's a wonderful reminder that the originality of the text is not what makes it sacred, but rather the truth of it.  The reason that Mr. Hine re-wrote this song with English lyrics is so that more people would be able to hear, sing and understand the song that had meant so much to him and his wife.  We need to be willing and ready to do the same when needed in order that those of the 21st century will be able to understand and sing the songs that we have loved for so long. 

What a beautiful reminder that these songs are just simply an opportunity for us to learn something about the character of God and to worship Him for that revelation.  We must remember not to worship the song itself, but the One to which the song was written.
How Great Is Our God
"How great is God - beyond our understanding!" Job 36:26
Author: Chris Tomlin
The following is from Crosswalk.com
in an article entitled, "What are we Singing: How Great is Our God"
written by Eva Marie Everson
"Singer/Songwriter Chris Tomlin’s song How Great is Our God has inspired this generation of believers by reminding us that God is no ordinary being sitting on a common throne dressed in rags. God’s very being, according to the Word, expresses magnificence our words strain to capture.
Isaiah wrote: In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
This paints a powerful picture of who God is and how His Spirit reveals Himself to those who are “ready” to see how wonderful—which is surely a weak word for describing the Almighty—God truly is.
From the beginning of time, God has urged us to glimpse into his greatness. In Genesis 28, the patriarch Jacob—who was not quite a father himself but a son on the run—lays down to sleep while traveling from Beersheba to Haran, his mother’s hometown. While sleeping, Jacob dreamed of a stairway stretching from earth to heaven. The angels of God ascended and descended on the ladder, but at the top stood the Lord, who spoke to Jacob, making a lasting covenant with him and his descendents.
The prophets’ writings (such as those found in Ezekiel and Isaiah) are filled to overflowing with visions and elements of God’s majesty and sovereignty. The New Testament story begins with God’s display of greatness. Glory to God in the highest, the angels sang above the shepherds' field. And on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.  Jesus' ministry was filled with miracles, His death resulted in the darkening of the sky, an earthquake, the tearing of the veil in the temple, and the opening of graves; the occupants of those graves filled again with life. Three days later He returned from the grave Himself, fully alive.  Forty days after that, He ascended before witnesses just outside of Jerusalem.
This same Jesus revealed Himself to John, His beloved disciple, approximately 40 years later in what has become known as John's Revelation. John's description of the Christ is much like those of Ezekiel and Isaiah in detail.
His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters…When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
God displayed his power and will to Paul on the road to Damascus and, at some point, took the apostle (or so theologians believe it was Paul) to “the third heaven.”  Is it any wonder then that Paul wrote:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How Unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever!
How Great is Our God!
And is it any wonder then that Chris Tomlin penned his words in tribute to the greatness of God? Or that even with the sheer beauty and imagery of the lyrics and the Scriptures, we cannot come close to knowing… to understanding… to reaching the full definition of His greatness.
Perhaps none of us, really, are ready to know just how wonderful God truly is."