Category Archives: Music for Worship

Marking a Five-Year Milestone

Ken Puls Music

The end of this month (July 2016) marks five years online for kenpulsmusic.com. I originally launched the website in 2011 to make available the lyrics and sheet music for hymns and songs that I have written. Since that time the site has grown and now offers many other resources, including:

If you have not visited the site in a while, take a few minutes to explore and share.

No Greater Passion

No Greater Passion

This past Sunday Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Dr. Tom Ascol serving as pastor. I have had the privilege of serving with Tom and leading music at Grace since 2003. As part of the celebration I wrote a new song  with the help of Becca Sissons entitled “No Greater Passion.”

The chorus of the song has words very familiar to our church family. Pastor Tom has taught us to remember that the gospel is all about Jesus: “Who He is, what He’s done, and why it matters.”

The idea for the verses came from another pastor, whose words Tom borrowed as an encouragement to our church. Inspired by Spurgeon’s first words at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, these were the first words that Pastor Tom spoke from the pulpit when we began meeting in our new building on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012:

This building has been prepared to serve the advance of the gospel here in Southwest Florida and around the world. Because of that I propose that the theme of all the preaching and teaching that will come from this platform shall be the person and work of Jesus Christ. We believe many things in this church. We love the law of God and delight in it because it is not only right but it is good. We love the great doctrines that are revealed in the Bible, especially those wonderful doctrines of God’s sovereign grace in salvation. But if asked what is our creed our answer must now and forever be, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The one message that we have to proclaim to our community is simply this: “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” His life, death and resurrection is our joy and our passion.

No Greater Passion

“For I decided to know nothing among you except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

We have no greater passion,
No greater joy we own;
No other cause so great unites us
Than making Jesus known.
We have one simple message
That Jesus came to save;
To rescue dead and helpless sinners,
His life He freely gave.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

We have no other answer,
When asked about our creed.
It’s Christ alone, His love compels us
To reach a world in need.
We have a great commission
To preach His Word to all,
At home, abroad and to hard places,
Wherever He may call.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

We have no other refuge;
“To whom Lord shall we go?”
In You alone is life eternal,
No other hope we know.
We have one sure foundation
That can’t be overthrown.
We’re anchored firm in Christ our Savior,
Our Rock, our Cornerstone.

Let our lives and our lips
Declare the gospel.
All praise to Christ we give!
Who He is, what He’s done,
And why it matters,
He’s the reason that we live.

No other passion,
No other creed,
No other refuge,
This we believe.
No other passion
No other creed,
He’s the reason that we live.

Words by Ken Puls; Music by Ken Puls and Rebecca Sissons
©2016 Kenneth Puls and Rebecca Sissons

You can hear a recording of the song from our evening service on June 5, 2016:

Click here to download lyrics and free sheet music: including song sheet, chord chart and music arranged for instrumental ensemble.

—Ken Puls

And Can It Be?

Amazing Love

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest 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?

‘Tis mystery all, the Immortal dies:
Who can explore this strange design?
In vain the first born seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

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.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

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 the eternal throne,
And claim the crown through Christ my own.

Words by Charles Wesley (1707–1788)

Download a transcription of this hymn for classical guitar (PDF sheet music) to the tune SAGINA.

More hymn tunes for classical guitar
More music for classical guitar

Sufficient Is the Word of God

Bible Sketch

Sufficient is the Word of God
That we may know His will,
And trust each day His providence
By faith content and still.
The secret things belong to God;
Our lives are His to lead.
But He has given us His Word
And that is all we need.

How vain the questions in my heart
To know what lies ahead,
When I neglect to read His Word
And know not what He said.
I need not look beyond His Word
To know His will for me;
If I but walk within its light
My path I’ll plainly see.

Our God has purposed and designed
Each moment of each day,
And though we rise and make our plans
‘Tis He directs our way.
Thus we should say when we arise:
“Lord-willing I shall stand.”
For we, except His Word reveals,
Know not what He has planned.

For who can search the mind of God,
Know what tomorrow brings?
And who can grasp His providence
To understand all things?
Our future rests within God’s hands
And we must leave it there;
Content to walk each day by faith
Within His loving care.

Tomorrow need not cause us fear,
For God knows what will be.
Sufficient that we know His Word
To walk obediently.
Where He has spoken, Let us hear,
Upon His Word we stand.
Where He is silent, Let us rest,
And trust His kind, good hand.

Words ©2000 Kenneth A Puls

This hymn is a reminder that God’s Word is sufficient for us to know His will for us. We “do not know what the future will bring” and so we must learn to say “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13–17). “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). We do not know what the future holds, but we can trust God in His providence and walk in obedience to His Word.

I wrote the hymn during a time of uncertainty. I had graduated from seminary, but was still searching for full time employment in teaching or ministry. I needed to preach truth to myself and rest in God’s providence. In an interesting turn of providence, in the same month I wrote the hymn (July 2000), I also began training to develop online courses and teach as an online instructor at Dallas Baptist University. I later used the knowledge from that training to develop the Founders Study Center when God gave me a full time job with Founders Ministries in 2003. God is good in all He provides.

Download the lyrics and  free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including chord charts for acoustic guitar, an arrangement of the tune for Classical Guitar, and an arrangement of the tune for Instrumental Ensemble.

—Ken Puls

Now May the God of Peace

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, ESV).

A Prayer of sanctification that God would deepen our repentance and strengthen our faith in the daily battle against remaining sin.

Lord, I desire Your will
My heart yearns to obey
Though daily I am faced with sin
Enticing me away

So, help me rise each day
Battle and war with sin
Until I see You face to face
And final vict’ry win

Lord, You have so designed
Sin to remain in me
That as I struggle, watch and pray
I learn humility

So, help me to obey
Holiness to pursue
Deepen repentance when I fail
Strengthen my faith in You

I rest within the hope
Your Spirit dwells in me
Completing that which was begun
So holy I may be

Now may the God of Peace
Sanctify me wholly
And keep me blameless ’til the day
Christ comes in victory

Words ©1992, 2015 Kenneth A Puls

Read more about how this hymn came to be written and download free sheet music (PDF), including chord charts for acoustic guitar, an arrangement of the tune for Classical Guitar, and an arrangement of the tune for Instrumental Ensemble.

—Ken Puls

What to Say in the Last Lines of a Worship Song

The Last Measure

What’s the best way to end a worship song? What should we say or sing in those last lines? We know endings are important. That final statement that punctuates our prayer or praise in singing should be thoughtful and purposeful. So what is the expected end—joy, glory, heaven, hope?

And what about sad and solemn songs? How should they end? As Christians we can certainly sing in a minor key. We live in a fallen word. Our songs not only express the joy and delight of knowing Christ, they also sound the more somber tones of sin and suffering. We sing in minor, but we don’t like to end in minor. We like our songs to end on high notes with positive lyrics and major chords. You can even find in music history a technique used by songwriters to strengthen the harmonic resolution of the final chord and create a happier ending. The Picardy Third is the use or substitution of a major chord, especially at the end of a piece of music, where a minor chord would be expected.

On the one hand it make sense to end with the brighter sounds of major. As followers of Christ, we see past the crumbling and broken promises of this fallen world to the sure and certain promises of God in His Word. We look beyond the strife and struggles of this life and rest in the joy and hope of knowing Christ. We have been rescued from sin and despair. Because we have a Savior we are bound for glory and destined for praise.

Many of the psalms highlight this upward trajectory. They orient us to look away from our own distress and sorrows and up to the glory and joys of belonging to God. Though they begin with pleading and lamentation, they end with hope and praise. For example, David opens Psalm 16 with a prayer: “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” But he ends rejoicing in verse 11: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The book of Psalms as a whole crescendos and culminates in praise. We reach the pinnacle with the command in the final verse of the Psalms:

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150:6)

Yet not all of the psalms follow this anticipated climb. Some make unpredicted turns and go down unforeseen paths. When you survey the 150 psalms, though blessing and praise predominate, you find a variety of endings:

  • 43 psalms end with praise and thanksgiving to God
  • 31 psalms end with God’s blessings for His people (salvation, peace, unity, goodness, mercy, joy…)
  • 11 psalms end by telling or declaring who God is
  • 9 psalms end with an exhortation (be strong, wait for the Lord, hope in the Lord) or a commitment (to seek the good of God’s people)
  • 24 psalms end with prayer or pleading (for justice, deliverance, salvation, strength, peace, blessing…)
  • 12 psalms end with words of warning about judgment on the wicked
  • 9 psalms end by contrasting judgment on the wicked with blessings for the righteous
  • 7 psalms end with triumph over evil and enemies
  • 4 psalms end with lament or complaint

Songwriters can learn much from a study of the psalms. The psalms are Scripture’s songbook for worship. They instruct us how to pray and praise God through music. They teach us how to craft and use lyrics in creative and intentional ways to communicate truth.

Sometimes the psalmist may take a surprising turn in order to make a profound point. A good example of this is Psalm 12. David begins with a prayer: “Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man” (Psalms 12:1). He cries out in the midst of crisis for the Lord to save. In verse 5 the Lord answers saying, “I will now arise” and “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” In verses 6–7 we see that place of safety:

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O LORD, will keep them;
You will guard us from this generation forever.
(Psalm 12:6–7)

The place of safety is the Word of God. David can rest in knowing that all God has promised is certain and true. Though the day seems dark, God will fulfill His Word.

The psalm then ends in 12:8 with a final verse. So how would you expect this psalm to end? What would you sing in those last lines? You might choose words that exhort God’s people to believe and trust in God’s Word. Or perhaps you would conclude with praise and thanksgiving to God for His Word or for salvation. These types of endings are certainly found in the psalms. But David does something different, something not expected. He ends the psalm with sober, even distressing words:

On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of men.
(Psalm 12:8)

C. H. Spurgeon refers to this verse as a “return to the fount of bitterness, which first made the Psalmist run to the wells of salvation.” The ending is unexpected, but David crafts his words intentionally to underscore an important truth. The overwhelming circumstances that grieved him at the beginning of the psalm have not changed. The trouble still exists. But what has changed is David’s outlook. He has been brought back to the Word of God. God does not always deliver us from our suffering. Our circumstances may not change. Troubles may still arise and threaten us. Yet God Word always remains true. It is our place of safety.

Read a full exposition here of Psalm 12: A Place of Safety

So what is the best way for a worship song to end? The psalms demonstrate that we need not always end with upbeat praise and soaring sounds. There are many possibilities and there are times when the unexpected ending may be the better choice. So learn from the psalms. Aim for praise; it is after all the ultimate finale of our songs and our lives. But give thought to your options. Don’t forget final words of pleading, warning and rebuke. Don’t neglect last lines that express godly fear, repentance and awe. And don’t avoid the inevitable cadences of lament and grief. For our music to ring true to God’s Word and to our experience as we walk in the light of His Word, we need the joys and the sorrows. We are pressing on to glory and praise, but there are most certainly times along the way when it is fitting to sing and even end with somber tones and sober thoughts.

Gathered Now We Come to Worship

Gathered now, we come to worship,
Hearts united, singing praise!
We would look to Jesus only,
Letting none distract our gaze.
May we offer music fitting
For the worship of our King.
Let us foremost seek His pleasure
As our voices join to sing.

Worship is not about our efforts, our pursuits, or our offerings. Worship centers on the glory and majesty of Christ Jesus. This hymn is a meditation on 2 Corinthians 4:5 “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.”

Check out the lyric video on youtube:

And download the music from band camp:

Click here to download lyrics and free sheet music: including song sheet, chord chart and music arranged for classical guitar.

—Ken Puls

 

Music at Grace 2015

Grace Musicians 2015

Often I am asked by members and visitors at Grace Baptist Church where to find the lyrics or music to the songs we sing in worship. Our music at Grace comes from many songwriters and composers, embracing new songs of our day as well as cherished hymns of the faith.

Listed below are the 10 songs we have sung most so far in 2015:

10,000 Reasons
All I Have Is Christ
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
Come As You Are
Come Lord Jesus – Even So Come
He Will Hold Me Fast
In Christ Alone
Sovereign
This Is Amazing Grace
You Alone Can Rescue

Click here to see a complete list of 150 of our current and favorite music for worship thus far for 2015. Each song is linked to a page where you can find lyrics and/or music.

Click here to see our service orders (posted each week) for gathered worship at Grace.

I Love Thy Kingdom Lord

Cross and Steeple

One of the great hymns of the faith that has stood the test of time is Timothy Dwight’s “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.” Dwight lived from 1752 to 1817 and was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards. He was a young man in his twenties during the American Revolution. Licensed to preach in 1777, he served until the fall of 1778 as a chaplain in the Connecticut Brigade of the Continental Army. Later he became pastor of a Congregational church in Fairfield, Connecticut and from 1795 to 1817 served as the 8th President of Yale College.

While serving at Yale, Dwight revised and reprinted Psalms of David (1719) by Isaac Watts, and included several of his own hymns that paraphrased the Psalms. “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” first appeared in print in the 1801 edition of Dwight’s revision. It is the earliest known hymn by an American writer still in common use.

Dwight’s original title to hymn was “Love to the Church.” In the lyrics he celebrates our allegiance to the Kingdom of God and our love for Christ and His church. The hymn is based in part on two verses from Psalm 137:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy
(Psalm 137:5–6)

If you know the hymn, the connection with the psalm may not be immediately evident. Most hymnals include only four verses; Dwight originally composed eight. Unfortunately, the verses most often left out include the ones that tie the hymn to the psalm. Here are the original eight verses to the hymn:

I Love Thy Kingdom Lord

I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.

I love Thy church, O God.
Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
And graven on Thy hand.

If e’er to bless Thy sons
My voice or hands deny,
These hands let useful skills forsake,
This voice in silence die.

Should I with scoffers join
Her altars to abuse?
No! Better far my tongue were dumb,
My hand its skill should lose.

For her my tears shall fall
For her my prayers ascend,
To her my cares and toils be given
Till toils and cares shall end.

Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise.

Jesus, Thou Friend divine,
Our Savior and our King,
Thy hand from every snare and foe
Shall great deliverance bring.

Sure as Thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be given
The brightest glories earth can yield
And brighter bliss of Heaven.

Timothy Dwight, 1801

Download a PDF of the hymn “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord” to the tune ST THOMAS with all 8 verses.

Download a setting of the tune ST THOMAS for Classical Guitar

O Sovereign God, How Great Your Grace

Hymn1

Thirty years ago I made my first endeavor writing a hymn. It  was prompted by two significant events that God brought into my life in 1985. During that year I began serving God in the music ministry, and as a result, was introduced to the Doctrines of Grace.

On February 10, 1985 I was called as Music Minister at Raven Oaks Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska (the name of the church was later changed to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church). During the morning worship service on that day, Pastor Bill Lollar preached from Ephesians 2:8–9 as part of a series of messages on “The Greatest Verses in the Bible.” Bill’s preaching, along with a Wednesday night study through the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith that spring, challenged and deepened my understanding of God’s Word. Bill also encouraged me to read Loraine Boettner’s book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. After reading Boettner’s book in May and June, I wrote the hymn and shared it with the church on June 23, 1985. It was a celebration of the truths I was learning and a milestone that would set the course of my ministry.