Hello again everyone,
Whatever week you’ve had, I hope you’ve been able to sing through it (or least some of it!).
This week’s song choices reflect some of the themes found in the second part of Acts chapter 2 (as this is the passage we are studying as a church this week).
Written by a team of US songwriters (Elevation Worship, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes), based on the ancient blessing Moses prayed, found in Numbers chapter 6:
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”Numbers 6:23-26
This version was put together recently and involved the singers and musicians of multiple churches across the UK with the aim of it being sung as a blessing ‘over the nation’. I found it incredibly powerful and moving as I imagine those who are struggling, those who feel despondent, those who feel far away from God, becoming aware of the incredible love God has for them and how it’s as we walk in his blessing that we truly find life ‘in all its fullness’. It also echoed in my mind with Peter’s words in this week’s passage:
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.Acts 2:38-39
‘Walk in the Promise’ by Jeremy Riddle
An intense and powerful building song which is also a heartfelt prayer for the signs and wonders that accompany the preaching of the gospel (as we saw on the day of Pentecost and will continue to read about during the book of Acts). Musically, there are moments that remind me of Thom Yorke from Radiohead in Jeremy’s sweet falsetto over the harmonic minor key. It’s different to many worship songs and that’s one of the reasons I chose it this week, but it also challenges me to believe in the sort of miraculous things God can do as we step out in faith.
‘By Faith’ by Stuart Townsend
I love the bluesy, cajon-influenced feel of this song, which has become a feature much of Stuart’s more recent productions. Like most of his lyrics, this one is rich in theology; exploring faith from various perspectives.
The two which intersect well with our scriptures this week are verses two and three. The former relates to the fact that God’s people ‘walked by faith’ as they waited for hundreds of years for God’s promised Messiah to come to Israel:
By faith, the prophets saw a day when the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin and death, And rise triumphant from the grave.
Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost and tells them, using several Old Testament scriptures as his foundation, Jesus was the one they had longed for:
Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.Acts 2:36
The third verse encapsulates the beginning of the church’s mission who, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, were called to step out in faith to declare the gospel to ‘the every corner of the earth’:
By faith, the church was called to go in the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news, In every corner of the earth.
‘Spirit of the Living God’ by Audrey Assad
Audrey Assad is one of those artists who don’t get much of the ‘limelight’ but who has written some great songs, containing depth of theology and less predictable lyrics than some of her contemporaries. I love the lilting, Celtic feel of this song and the second verse links well with today’s passage from Acts 2:
Blow, wind of God, with wisdom blow until our minds are free
From mists of error, clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to Thee
Burn, winged fire, inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal
To preach to all Thy great good news, God’s glorious commonweal
‘Dreamers of your Dreams’ by The Hudson Taylors
When Noel Richards teamed up with Brian Houston and Wayne Drain (yes, that’s his real name!) to form The Hudson Taylors (named after the first missionary to venture in to China, Hudson Taylor), it was a bit of an experiment, but the combination of the Irishman, the Welshman and the American Cherokee/Scot (that’s not a joke either) has yielded some excellent songs. This one is sung by Noel and ties in well with the prophecy Peter quoted in his first sermon after Pentecost:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Acts 2:17-18
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy
The song reminds us that in prayer we have the amazing privilege of ‘tuning in’ with God and maybe, just maybe, we might think God’s thoughts, feel God’s desires and dream God’s dreams:
When we turn our hearts to heaven and bow down, we’ll see fathers and the children reconciled – we’ll be the dreamers of your dreams
I do hope the songs help you connect with God and sing through the ups and downs of this present crisis.
May His presence go before you and behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you – He is with you, He is with you.
In the morning, in the evening, in your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing – He is for you, He is for you.