Scripture in Song

I’ve just come across ‘Scripture in Song‘, a website full of songs to help you memorise God’s word – searchable by Scripture or topic. There are also links to a whole load of other resources to help God’s word stuck in your head and stored in your heart. Exciting!

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And can it be – Phatfish

Here’s a new tune (well…it’s two years old, but it’s new to me….compared to the words, the tune is new anyway…) for ‘And can it be’. To my mind the original tune is a belter, but most of us (especially blokes) get a bit confused what we should sing in the last couple of lines. I’ve only listened to this version twice, but am looking forward to getting to know it better.

Phatfish have dispensed with the traditional second verse, with its talk of the ‘firstborn seraph’ (I don’t know if that was their reason…). I’ve posted the lyrics below so you can hum along meaningfully.

On this recording, I particularly like the way they portray the dungeon ‘filling with light’ musically, and the contrast between the more reflective feel in first couple of verses with the more solid, uplifting final verse.

1. And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2. He left his Father’s throne above
(so free, so infinite his grace!),
emptied himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
for O my God, it found out me!

3. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

4. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

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Once for all

Over the last couple of days I’ve had the privilege of going into the secondary school near where I live as part of the Cohesion assemblies team. We got to share the good news that Jesus chose to give up his life, though he’d done nothing to deserve death, so that we can be right with God.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3:18


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This is Eternal Life

Have you ever sat back and thought, “this is the life”? Perhaps you were leaning back, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, with a nice cool pint of liquid refreshment in your hand, and the relaxing sound of peaceful countryside joining in to bring you to a place of unhurried leisure.

Or perhaps, in a less happy moment, you’ve found yourself thinking “there must be more to life than this?” The bible says there is. There’s more to life than running round purposelessly like a headless chicken. There’s more to life than trying to find meaning in how well we measure up to other people’s expectations. There’s more to life than living a life focussed on pleasing ourselves. There’s more to life than living for the weekend when we can find a nice quiet spot with that pint to forget about life’s struggles for a minute. The life we were made for is this: knowing God. Knowing God is our purpose, where we find meaning, he’s the one we were made to please. But we can’t do it. Hard as we may try, however religious or disciplined we are, we can’t please God on our own. So we’re cut off from knowing him. Cut off from our very life source.

Which is why Jesus is the best news ever. He was sent to do what we can’t do. He always pleased God, but was put to death. He paid for our rebellion and rose to life to prove it. He rose to God’s right hand where he speaks on behalf of his people – the ones who trust in him. The best thing about faith in Jesus isn’t that we get our sins forgiven. It’s that we get to know God – the only true God, the one who made the universe. This is the life. Is it your life?

“This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

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Before the throne of God above

Don’t know how well this arrangement would go down at most of our church gatherings here at FBC, but perhaps it might work at your place, otherwise I hope it’ll help you celebrate the assurance we can have in Jesus wherever you are now!

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tells me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace,
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high

from Grace Alone, released 14 August 2012

Words by Charitie Lees Bancroft, Alternate Words and Music by Vikki Cook
Arrangement by The Modern Post

There’s a whole load more music from Mars Hill here.

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Risen – Sovereign Grace

Sovereign Grace have put out loads of great albums (click here for their bandcamp page where you can listen to them). Here’s one with an Easter flavour. I know it’s not Easter any more but I’ve been listening to it loads, and back in the day, in the year Jesus died and rose, he would have still been on earth now, appearing to his disciples, eating with them, reassuring them, teaching them….. WOW!

A few favourites:

Alive shows the gulf between life with and without Jesus in the powerful contrast between the first verse and chorus. Without Jesus, ‘my heart of stone is dead’ but ‘Now I am alive in you….You are alive in me!’ Pumping Chorus!

What a day celebrates the events and joy of Easter Day with a great middle eight pointing us forward the next great glorious day:
There is still a day that we’re awaiting
When the glorious One we love appears
He will take us home with Him forever
He will finally wipe away our tears 
You have been raised
 unpacks the significance of Jesus’ resurrection in terms of our forgiveness and redemption – that work has been completed!

Jesus lives 
is all about the way we can laugh at death and persevere in this fallen world because Jesus has defeated death – he has taken its sting away.

Behold our God 
is less focussed on the events of Easter, but uses ideas from Isaiah 40 to build a picture of the incomparable, supreme, creator God. In Isaiah the surprise is that the same God who is so far above all things also wants to stoop down to know and comfort his people. In the song the surprise is that he’s done it in Jesus!! “God eternal, humbled to the grave. Jesus, Saviour, risen now to reign.
Hallelujah! Jesus is alive!
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I love Shai Linne for his solid theology, his dedication to his artform, and his commitment to living as a disciple of Jesus as part of his local church (just read this update on his blog to see what makes him tick). He’s released several albums through Lamp Mode and contributed to most of other releases too.
It’s still just about nearly Easter time, so the song I want to talk about today is one of the first songs of his that I heard:
‘Jesus is alive’ is from his 2008 album ‘The Atonement’. My first reaction to it was that I loved the verses, but was slightly put off by the chorus – for every time he says that Jesus is alive, Shai lists a load of people who are dead. Is the song taunting those people? If we played it to our kids, would the message that sticks with them be that loads of people are dead? Really the song is pointing out how pointless our infatuation with celebrity and fame is:

The spotlight is on today’s icons.
In a thousand years, nobody will care – their light’s gone.
But at that time, Christ will still shine bright.
He’s not in the limelight – He IS the limelight….

What we should really care about is Jesus’ fame. But the song doesn’t end there. Shai Linne is a theologian at heart, and he spells out loads of the good things that are true because Jesus is alive. But first, he shows us how sure we can be that Jesus really is risen:
…the issue is
The risen Christ was seen by 500 eye-witnesses.
Imagine 500 people in a court of law,
Each of them taking the stand and reporting what they saw…
 Having given us that powerful image, I love it that he goes on to say ‘But it’s still by faith that we trust and praise the Son.’ There is overwhelming evidence for the historical truth of the resurrection which anyone can look into, but at the end of the day it’s a matter of faith. What counts is whether you’re willing to trust in Jesus completely.
Verse three is probably my favourite part of the track –  it celebrates what life is like now for Jesus’ people because he is alive. The best bit is when the phrases get shorter and cut across the rhythm. Here’s what it’s like to live with the Spirit’s resurrection power in us – it makes me want to remember the so I can join in when I listen and remind myself every day:
United with Christ, we reside in his light,
Abide in his might, keep in stride as we fight,
The pride in our life, the lies and the spite,
We strive to be wise as he guides us through the night,
He’ll chide and he’ll slice – recognise what is right,
His brightness inside lights our eyes, and it’s tight…
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