All posts in "Scripture"

Song for the New Year


Psalm 90 BOOK FOUR From Everlasting to Everlasting A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. 1Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. 7For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Courtesy of Biblegateway.org


Read More

Black Friday devotions


Good post here from Juan Sanchez of The Gospel Coalition on being on guard against worldliness. He includes this two-part test: Part 1: Take some time out this week to write out your weekly schedule. Write down every activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. Where are you investing your time? Part 2: On another sheet of paper, write out your budget. Now, look at your check register, credit card and bank statements, cash flow. Where are you investing your money? Worth the read. This is worth your consideration for the holidays.


Read More

Thanksgiving Song


Psalm 100 A psalm. For giving thanks. 1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV)


Read More

“Not our work, but God’s work” – Interview with composer John Sall


John Sall was an young church music director when he heard about a competition for young composers, sponsored by a well-known New York church. At the time he was the Director of Music at Bethel Lutheran in Rochester, Minnesota, and – in his words – “was young, ambitious, and didn’t have children yet.” So John put pen to manuscript and wrote “Is Not This the Fast That I Choose”, an anthem based on Isaiah 58 for choir, organ and string quartet, which won the Grand Prize in the First Annual Competition for Young Composers sponsored by Riverside Church in New York in September 1999. “It’s designed for your average good four-part church choir, one used to singing independent four-part work,” John told me recently.  “It’s in a sort of unfamiliar or slightly minimal style for vocal writing, using a lot of the same harmonies with occasional unexpected moving lines that create dissonance.” So what is the biggest challenge with the anthem?  According to John, “I found that the hardest part was just getting into the mind and ear of the singers how the piece worked.  Once we did that, the notes themselves and the individual lines are not especially difficult.  It’s not intended to be virtuosic or challenging.” In the score, the original composition segues neatly into “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Lobe Den Herren, Neander, 1680),” which provides a nice surprise and ends the piece on a promising note, making a lasting impression on listeners: Praise to the Lord! who will prosper your work and defend you, Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend you; Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend you! John calls the inclusion of the hymn a “delightful, happy accident.”  He says, “I was getting towards what I thought was the end of the work when the hymn introduced itself again to my mind.  It kind of walked in, sat down and said, ‘By the way, I think you should include me here at the end.’” John recently dusted the anthem off for his choir at Abington Presbyterian and found it as welcome as an old friend.  “What I found that I really loved about the piece is not just that sense of prophetic concern and chastisement that comes out in the call for the very things that God wants from us, but also the reminder of blessing that is inherent in doing those things.  In the text, it is portrayed as a cause and effect:  God says if you do these, things, then your light will break forth like the dawn.” “The idea is that while we do what is required of us, God will also strengthen the work because it’s not our work, but God’s work,” says John.  “It’s not that God’s work can’t be accomplished without us – He will find a way to get it done whether we do it or not – but that it is with putting our hands to the work God has in front of us, we will also be strengthened and uplifted by the work itself. God Himself participates with us in that process.” John Sall is the Music Director of Abington Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania and author of Is Not This the Fast I Choose, a choral anthem based on Isaiah 58. This is one of the resources we offer free to participating churches.  We are grateful for his generosity in waiving royalties for churches that participate in Harmony of Hearts presentations.


Read More

Hymn of an old insurance salesman


Bob Kauflin describes the story behind the song Great Is Thy Faithfulness: Thomas Chisholm, who sometimes described himself as “just an old shoe,”  was born in a Kentucky log cabin in 1866. He was converted when he was 27, became a pastor at 36, but had to retire one year later due to poor health. He spent the majority of the rest of his life as a life insurance agent in New Jersey. He died in 1960 at the age of 93. During his life he wrote over 1200 poems, most of which no one will ever hear. But back in 1923, at the “beyond his prime” age of 57, Thomas Chisholm sent a few of his poems to William Runyan at the Hope Publishing Company. One of them was Great is Thy Faithfulness, based on Lamentations 3:22-23. This means that your best songwriting may still be ahead of you! Kauflin’s full post includes an excerpt from a Chisholm letter that’s worth your time. (HT:  Between Two Worlds.  Photo cred:  Redbubble)


Read More

New anthem available


I am thrilled to offer a new anthem for SATB chorus, string orchestra, and organ for Harmony of Heart presentations. Is Not This the Fast That I Choose? is a stately choral anthem is based on Isaiah 58:6-12 and clearly states God’s command for good works to accompany our worship and professions of faith. The use of this for Harmony of Hearts events is graciously donated by John Robert Sall, the composer and arranger, and Director of Music for Abington Presbyterian Church in Abington, PA. To preview free samples, go here to download. Would your church be interested in debuting this for us in your area? If you like it and provide me with a date for your presentation, I’ll send the complete set of scores free (which is what we do here at HofH). Let me know…


Read More

Service of Worship – NWLC 09 workshops


A great final day of the National Worship Leader’s Conference included two workshops I had the privilege of teaching. Titled The Service of Worship, we examined the Biblical mandate to serve the poor.  God’s Word points out, from Genesis 3 onward, the importance of providing materials goods and needs to those who are in need and have no earthly plans of repayment If you attended, thanks for your attention and participation. If you’d like the outline or notes from the class, keep watching this blog or email me:  harmonyofhearts@gmail.com. Here’s a snapshot of participants from the second class (my apologies to the first class for neglecting to snap one): A great collection of worship leaders!


Read More

Lazarus waits, Rachel weeps


A thoughtful post here from Jill Carattini of Ravi Zacharias Ministries. Here’s the nut of it: In our impervious boxes and minimalist depictions of the Christian story, we comfortably live as if in our own world, blind and unconcerned with the world of suffering around us, intent to tell our feel-good stories while withdrawing from the harder scenes of life… In reality, the stories Jesus left us with are so much more than wishful thinking and his proclamations of the kingdom among us are far from declarations of escapism. The story of Rachel weeping for her slaughtered children and Lazarus waiting in agony at the gate of someone who could make a difference are two stories among many that refuse to let us sweep the suffering of the world under the rug of unimportance. The fact that they are included in the gospel that brings us the hope of Christ … For Christ brings the kind of hope that can reach even the most hopeless among us. And Jesus hasn’t overlooked the suffering of the world anymore than he has invited his followers to do so; it is a part of the very story we tell. Thus, precisely because the faith we proclaim is not a drug that anesthetizes or a dream that deludes, we must tell the whole story and not merely the parts that lessen our own pain. We must also live as people watchful and ready to be near those who weep and wait–the poor, the demoralized, and the suffering. There are far too many Rachels who are still weeping and Lazaruses who are still waiting, waiting for men and women of faith to be the good news they proclaim.


Read More