This week, our songs were gathered around the theme of dependence upon God. Below, you’ll find the list of the songs and artists. Clicking the song titles will take you to the lyrics. Below the songs, there is an example of one way you might think of these songs in light of this week's theme. If you want to talk about any of these, feel free to comment at the bottom of this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heart Won't Stop by John Mark McMillan
Fall Afresh by Jeremy Riddle
All I Can Say by David Crowder* Band
How They Fit In:
There are many ways to think about the significance of songs and the way they fit together–-this is simply one way you can look at these songs in light of this week’s theme.
Heart Won't Stop: We sang this song for the first time last week during the offering. On a pragmatic level, we sang this song again this week to build familiarity with it so it is more accessible in the future. This song offers us language from Psalm 139 to bring to the forefront of our minds just how far the love of God will go to reach us. Not even taking up residence in the deepest reaches of darkness can make God change God's mind about how radically God loves us. In light of this week's thinking about dependence on God, we can say two things: (1) Whether we know it or not, we are dependent upon the love of God to hold us together at all times--especially when we try our best to turn ourselves against God. (2) God is dependable in God's consistent pursuit of us--we don't have to worry that we will at some point be bad enough to convince God that we aren't worth loving. Even though there are things about us that make us seemingly unlovable in human terms, God has scandalously decided to be God for us; One who loves us.
Be Thou My Vision: We sang this song to proclaim (and remind ourselves) that we are dependent upon God for our vision, wisdom, contentment, and hope. These faculties are things that we rely on to make it through each day, and God offers them to us in abundance. It is easy to try to generate all of these things on our own, through self-help practices, making plans, etc.--and we should no doubt spend time thinking about ways to live a purposeful and motivated life (!)--but we are ill-equipped to do these things alone. [Note: A few months ago, it was brought to my attention that one line, "Thou my Great Father, and I Thy true son," can be a difficult/dissonant line for women to sing, since women do not typically self-identify as the son of anyone. I was aware of this tension, but I did not have an alternative line to offer at the time. In the months since, I have spoken to several women about the way they feel about this line, and have found that some (the majority of the group I informally polled) have no problem with singing "I Thy true son." It is apparent, then, that changing this line is not the universal desire of women, but it is a concern nonetheless. After giving this more thought, I chose to seek out an alternative line for the song, in hope that we could find words to sing together that we could all get behind. After looking at that stanza intently, it seems like the point of those four lines is to convey the idea that God, the source of Wisdom, is present within us and can be our source of wisdom--that means the first two lines, "Be Thou my Wisdom and Thou my True Word//I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord," and the final line, "Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one," are perhaps the most essential lines of this stanza. "Thou my Great Father, and I Thy true son," while not pointless, does not contribute to the sense of this stanza as potently as the others. In light of this, I chose to replace the third line with, "Thou my Great Father, Spirit, and Son." This alternative line seems to preserve the integrity of the stanza as a whole, and focuses in on just what kind of God is indwelling us and imbuing us with wisdom. I would love to elaborate on this further for anyone who is interested, and I would also love to talk to anyone who has concerns about this change. Feel free to send me an email.]
Fall Afresh: We sang this song to proclaim that we are dependent upon the Spirit, and are ever in need of a reinvigorating of our awareness of the Spirit's presence within and among us.
All I Can Say: I chose this song for the Offering song for a couple of reasons. In keeping with the theme of dependence, this song embodies our need to take our concerns to God, and to be honest about our pain--even when that pain is in part because we feel that God has forgotten us or ignored us (This theme features prominently in the Psalms, after all, if you are looking or further permission from Scripture for this kind of candor in prayer). The third verse reassures us that we can take our pain to God without fear that God will be angry at us for some lack of faith and give us the silent treatment. Outside of our theme, I tend to think about All I Can Say whenever something tragic happens in the news (which seems to be at least weekly, if not daily, now)--people killing eachother, people finding ways to preserve their own faults by pointing fingers at others, people allowing their hatred of the "other" to be the wind in their sails. Though this is perhaps a step removed from the direct language of the song, I think that it indeed carries a sense that we are upset about (insert upsetting thing), feel helpless, and don't know what to say. Rather than attempting to fein some kind of apathy, this song lays out pain and discontent on the altar, knowing that God can take it.
Come Thou Fount: We sang this song to look over our shoulder at last week's songs. This is what we said about Come Thou Fount last week: We sang this song for two main reasons: First, outside of our theme, it puts words into our mouths to call upon God to meet us in worship (God by no means conjured by us, but this is a way to express that we are open to meeting God and that we desire that God would teach us how to worship better). The second reason, in light of our theme, was the final stanza: Though we are prone to wander, the love of God does not abandon us.
Doxology: We close our time together each week with this proclamation that God is worthy of praise from every inch of the cosmos.