Category Archives: Psalm

The Sound of Worship

Drums and Cymbals

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150)

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

Psalm 150 anticipates the coming of Christ and foresees the day when God’s praise will cover the earth. Jesus said that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). This psalm, like all the psalms, points us to Christ. The final words of Psalm 150 anticipate Christ’s words in the Great Commission.  The psalmist calls upon “everything that has breath” to “praise the Lord.” In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We are to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Psalm 150 finds its ultimate fulfillment in the conquering grace of Christ displayed in His church.

Church history is a testimony to the fulfillment of Psalm 150. God is at work sanctifying instruments and voices from every tribe and tongue, culture and nation for His glory. He is continually adding new voices, new instruments, new cultures, and new songs to the tapestry of His praise through the ages.

The fulfillment of Psalm 150, however, has not been without opposition. Satan has been enraged and at war with church since its beginning (Revelation 12). It has been his scheme to thwart the spread of God’s praise. He has attempted to shroud the world in darkness so that men remain blind to truth. He has sought to hinder the spread of the gospel so that men remain in bondage to their sin. He has sought to distort truth about God so that men believe and sing lies. And he has cast doubt on music (especially the use of musical instruments) miring them in sinful associations.

In the early days of the church, many musical instruments from Greek and Roman culture were associated with pagan worship and pagan cults. The aulos (a wind instrument like the flute) was used in the worship of the goddess Diana.  The lyre (a stringed instrument) was said to be played by the Greek god Apollo. Many Christian writers and commentators of the first three centuries condemned such instruments based on their associations with pagan rituals. Some presented farfetched explanations and allegories in an attempt to reinterpret passages like Psalm 150, that include clear commands to worship God with musical instruments. (An excellent resource is: Music in Early Christian Literature by James McKinnon, Cambridge University Press, 1987.)

Throughout the history of the church, well-intended arguments have been made that certain musical instruments are incompatible with worship. Some have tried to constrict the Regulative Principle so that it excludes the use of musical instruments in the church altogether.  Drums, guitars, banjos, kazoos, and even the piano have been scorned and disparaged. 

One musical instrument that was slow to be accepted by the church to accompany praise to God was the organ. This may be surprising, since today the organ is regarded as the grandest musical instrument of the church.

“The organ was invented around the 3rd century BC. Back then it was designed to use water rather than air in the pipes and was called the hydraulis. The water organ was quite loud and was used most prominently in the amphitheaters. 

“During the time of the Roman Empire it was used to accompany the processions and events at the gladiatorial games. Some ballparks today use the organ in a similar way to create a festive atmosphere—to signal and stir up the crowd. It was to the celebrative sounds of the organ that many Christians were paraded in before cheering crowds to be martyred. 

“So you can imagine the difficulties with association that early Christians must have had whenever someone finally had the idea to introduce the organ into church as a worship instrument. How could this instrument that accompanied so much death, ever be used in worship?

“But God had a purpose for the pipe organ. He designed to rescue that instrument and use it for His glory. Rome was sacked in 410 and the empire fell over the next 150 years. The organ was finally brought into the church around 7th century AD—well after the fall of Rome. It was not until the 1300s that the first organ was permanently installed in a church. But for hundreds of years after, the pipe organ was a prominent instrument in carrying the praise of God’s people.” (from Thoughts on Music and Worship)

The reality is that there are no musical instruments that cannot be used to worship God, only instruments that are incompatible with our comfort zone and expectations as to what worship music should sound like.

Certainly, we want to use music wisely.  We want to be like the sons of Issachar and have “an understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We want to employ music in ways that will adorn worship and serve our singing, not hinder worship and obscure the words we are singing. The inscriptions on the psalms in Scripture teach us to be intentional in our musical arrangements. In an earlier study on the Psalm Inscriptions, I concluded:

“The psalms set a musical precedent for worship that God will accomplish in fuller measure in the New Testament through the church. Throughout church history, God has added and continues to add many musical styles and sounds to His praise. As the gospel goes out in the power of God’s Spirit, conquering hearts and lives, people from each generation and from every tribe and tongue and nation add their voice to the music of the church. There is not one sound that is solely sacred, but a vast array of musical composition that God is weaving into a tapestry of praise for His glory.” (from Lessons from the Psalm Inscriptions: Titles of Interpretation).

The sanctification of music—musical expression, musical styles, musical instruments—to the praise and glory of God is an outcome of the spread of the gospel and fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

Some will still ask: Where are the musical instruments in the New Testament? Where in the New Testament do we find precedent for using them in the church? Musical instruments are there, of course. They are inherent in the New Testament fulfillment of God’s commands to fill the earth with His praise. They are implied in Paul’s admonitions to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). And they are explicit in John’s descriptions of music in heaven (Revelation 5:8; 8:2, 6; 9:14; 14:2, and 15:2). But it should come as no surprise that the New Testament doesn’t provide an orchestration for music in the church. The New Testament emphasizes the spiritual nature of worship and sees it spread to the ends of the earth. Unlike the worship music of the Old Testament that was specific to one place (the tabernacle / Temple), music in the New Testament is adaptable to every place—everywhere there is breath!

  • We don’t have descriptions as to how to build our buildings and worship spaces.
  • We don’t have orders of worship to plan and design our services.
  • And we don’t have specific instruments designated as necessary and sacred.

There may be times when the church is not able to use musical instruments. They may be scarce. There may not be skilled musicians available to play them. Most of the first three centuries of the church, believers faced severe persecution and had to worship in secret. Loud instruments and music would have needlessly attracted attention.

As the gospel goes out and conquers hearts and lives, where there are musical instruments, they should be sanctified and employed for God’s praise. Where there are no musical instruments, God can still be worshipped with voices alone. He is sovereignly orchestrating His praise throughout the ages and around the world. All glory is His!

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

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The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 3

Hymnal and Bible

Open your Bibles this evening to Psalm 43. Tonight, we return to our study of Psalm 42 and 43. These two psalms are two halves of a single psalm. Together they form a lament with 3 stanzas and 3 refrains. 

In this psalm, the psalmist expresses sorrow. He is afflicted and oppressed. He is separated from the people of God. And he is providentially hindered from being in Jerusalem at a time when the nation is gathering to worship God. His heart longs to “go with the throng” and join with the “multitude observing the pilgrim festival.”

In this study we are specifically interested in what we can learn about worship. What are the joys that come from corporate worship? What are the blessings that the psalmist longs for and desires to experience again?

In the first stanza in Psalm 42:1-4 and its refrain in verse 5, we looked at the first joy of corporate worship: The Joy of Seeking God and Delighting in Him Together.

The Psalmist longed to be in God’s presence in the midst of God’s people. His chief joy in worship was seeking God and delighting in God with the people of God.

When God brought Israel out of bondage and established them as a people, He promised to be their God, to be near them, to tabernacle among them. This great truth—God dwells with His people—fills the Old Testament and finds its fulfillment in the coming of Christ, the Messiah, who is Immanuel, “God with us.”

The presence of God with His people was the psalmist’s greatest joy in worship.

In the second stanza in Psalm 42 (verses 6-10) and the second refrain in verse 11, we discover his second joy—The Joy of Finding Strength and Encouragement in Times of Suffering.

The psalmist remembered the times and places where God had brought deliverance to His people. He was encouraged and drew strength when he saw and heard about God working in the lives of His people. 

He also longed to return to worship so he himself could testify of God’s goodness in delivering him from his trial. He desired that his own suffering be turned to praise and thanksgiving. He looked forward to the time when he could bring a peace offering of thanksgiving and testify to the gathered congregation that God had heard and answered his prayer. All the people of God would rejoice and give thanks when they saw him—his joy and thanksgiving to God would be multiplied many times over in the context of corporate worship! His experience would bring encouragement and strength to others who were facing difficulty. 

This evening we are going to consider the third joy of corporate worship. It is found in the third stanza (Psalm 43:1–4) and the final refrain (43:5): The Joy of Walking Together in Light and Truth.

Continue reading this sermon

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The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 2

Bible and Hymnal in Church Pew

Open your Bibles this evening to Psalm 42 and 43. Last time I had an opportunity to bring God’s Word to you, we began a study of these two psalms as they relate to corporate worship. The psalmist who composed Psalm 42 and 43 was one of the sons of Korah. He was providentially hindered from being in Jerusalem and thus could not take part in the pilgrim festivals of Israel and worship God with all those who gathered. He was in the midst of trial and persecution, and was separated, at least for a time, from the people of God. As he pours out his lament and seeks God’s help, he reveals his longing to worship God with the multitude in Jerusalem. He reveals, as well, why corporate worship is so precious to him.

This evening I want us to once again consider the joys of corporate worship.

What is it about corporate worship—

That worship of God that we enjoy, as we gather at certain times in a designated place to seek God together, to sing and pray together, and to hear God’s Word read and taught together

What is it about corporate worship that is so necessary and desirable? Why does the psalmist long for worship in the company of God’s people? 

If you remember, last time I left you with a question. We understand from Scripture that God is present everywhere. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. God was near the psalmist as he poured out his lament. So, what is this thirst that the psalmist has for God and His presence?

Why does he long to meet with God in a setting of corporate worship?

Is it really as important as the psalmist seems to indicate, that we gather together to seek God? Is it really necessary to worship God as a gathered church?

OR          Can we worship God just as well apart from each other,

                  in the privacy of our own hearts and in our own homes?

I hope to demonstrate for you as we continue to work through this psalm, that corporate worship really is necessary in God’s design of worship, both in the Old and New Testaments. It is essential that we come together as God’s people, as His gathered church to seek Him in worship. There are joys and blessings that we will miss and sorely lack if we neglect the frequent and consistent meeting together of the visible church in this place.

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The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 1

Church Sanctuary in Sunlight

When you think about corporate worship, what first comes to mind?

When you are providentially hindered and unable to attend, what do you miss?

When you made the effort to come to the service today, what motivated you to attend?

What brings you the most joy in corporate worship?

Please open your Bibles to Psalm 42. Tonight, we begin a brief series from Psalm 42 and 43 on “The Joys of Corporate Worship.” These two psalms may at first seem like an unlikely source to learn about corporate worship. They are not composed by one who is in the midst of God’s people, enjoying the blessings of gathered worship. They are rather a lament of one who is providentially hindered from joining in worship—he is prevented from being in Jerusalem and is, at least temporarily, separated from the people of God.

In this lament the psalmist pours out his heart to God and reveals his longing to return to Jerusalem and gather once again with the people of God in worship. Through his words, we are taught what should be most desirable about worship. We learn why corporate worship is so necessary for the people of God.

Psalm 42 and 43 are actually a single psalm made up of three sections. Each section ends with a similar refrain. In each section the psalmist sings about an aspect of worship that he especially misses and longs to experience again.

The Joys of Corporate Worship.

I.  (42:1-4)  The Joy of Seeking and Delighting in God together.
(42:5) Refrain

II. (42:6-10)   The Joy of Strength and Encouragement in time
of suffering.
(42:11) Refrain

III. (43:1-4) The Joy of Light and Truth
(43:5) Refrain

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Songs and the Trinity

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Throughout the ages the church has confessed that there is One God in Three Persons. We declare it in our creeds:

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, 
Creator of heaven and earth. 
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended into hell;
On the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of God 
the Father Almighty;
From there He will come 
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic church;
The communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
And life everlasting.
Amen.”

The Apostle’s Creed

We affirm it in our confessions of faith:

“In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.”

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, 2:3

And we celebrate it in our songs. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of the Trinity: One God in Three Persons. This List is from my Theological Index of Music for Worship. If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of the Trinity that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for Songs and the Trinity in the Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and the Trinity: There is one God in Three Persons 

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Angels from the Realms of Glory (James Montgomery)
  • Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation (Latin Hymn – 7th C / J M Neale)
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now (Anonymous / Catherine Winkworth)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 

2.  The work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Creation

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J M Neale / H Baker)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 

3.  The work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Salvation

  • All Glory Be to Thee Most High—Gloria in Excelsis (Latin Hymn)
  • Behold, My Soul (Ken Puls) to DUANE STREET • Ken Puls Music
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son (Mark Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • Only Jesus (Doug Plank) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Savior of the Nations, Come (Ambrose of Milan / M Luther / W M Reynolds)
  • There Is a Redeemer (Melody Green)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse) 

4.  Prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  • All Glory Be to Thee Most High—Gloria in Excelsis (Latin Hymn)
  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son (Mark Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word (Martin Luther / Catherine Winkworth)
  • O God, We Praise Thee—Te Deum (Anonymous – 5th C)
  • Only Jesus (Doug Plank) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse)

5.  Praise and adoration to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Alleluia! Alleluia! (Christopher Wordsworth)
  • Angels from the Realms of Glory (James Montgomery)
  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation (Latin Hymn – 7th C / J M Neale)
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • Doxology (Thomas Ken)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now (Anonymous / Catherine Winkworth)
  • O God, We Praise Thee—Te Deum (Anonymous – 5th C)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J M Neale / H Baker)
  • Savior of the Nations, Come (Ambrose of Milan / M Luther / W M Reynolds)
  • The God of Abraham Praise (Thomas Olivers)
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse)

The next post in the series will be Songs and God’s Uniqueness—He alone is God.

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the online Index:

Entry for “Songs and the Trinity”

TOC for Index Theology and Song

Songs and God’s Word

Open Bible on Table with Hymn Tune: How Firm a Foundation

This is the second post from my Theological Index of Music for Worship

Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of Scripture: Special Revelation. The songs are arranged under 17 theological statements, including one for which I have not yet found related songs  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of Scripture that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for Songs and God’s Word in the Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

If you missed the first post, you can read it here: Songs and God’s Creation.

Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation 

1.  God’s Word is divine revelation, given by inspiration of God—it is God breathed

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett) 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912) 

2. God’s Word is our final rule of faith and life—it is our final authority

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 

3. God’s Word is infallible—it is incapable of error or failing

  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)

4. God’s Word is inerrant—it is without error or failing

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

5. God’s Word is complete—nothing is ever to be added to Scripture

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

6. God’s Word is all-sufficient—it teaches all that is necessary for salvation and life eternal

  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912)

7. God’s Word is efficacious—it accomplished God’s purposes and does not return void 

  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

8. God’s Word is perspicuous—it is sufficiently clear upon essential matters of faith and practice

  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

9. God’s Word must be illumined by the Spirit of God if we are to rightly understand and apply it

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

10. God’s Word is its own best interpreter—the infallible rule for interpreting Scripture is Scripture itself

11. God’s Word is profitable for doctrine, corrections, reproof, and instruction in righteousness

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)

12. God’s Word is Christ-centered—Scripture (the written Word) points us to Christ (the incarnate Word)

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

13. God’s Word is life-giving and powerful, able to defeat the powers of darkness.

  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Martin Luther / Frederick Hedge)
  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

14. God’s Word is a message for all peoples to be proclaimed in every tongue.

  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

15. God’s Word is the Sword of the Spirit, arming us for spiritual battle.

  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

16. God’s Word is our light and guide for how we are live and walk in this world.

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • How Shall the Young Direct Their Ways? —Psalm 119:9–16 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

17. God’s Word stands forever—it is eternal.

  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

The next post in the series will be Songs and The Trinity—One God in Three Persons.

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Word”

TOC forIndex—Theology and Song

Hallelujah Praise Jehovah

Mountain Lake

Psalm 146 reminds us to put our hope and trust in God alone.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 146:1–10, NKJV)

Below is one of my favorite psalm settings of Psalm 146 from The Psalter, 1912.

Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Put no confidence in princes,
Nor for help on man depend;
He shall die to dust returning,
And his purposes shall end.

Happy is the man that chooses
Israel’s God to be his aid;
He is blessed whose hope of blessing
On the Lord his God is stayed.
Heav’n and earth the Lord created,
Seas and all that they contain;
He delivers from oppression,
Righteousness He will maintain.

Food He daily gives the hungry,
Sets the mourning pris’ner free,
Raises those bowed down with anguish,
Makes the sightless eyes to see.
Well Jehovah loves the righteous,
And the stranger He befriends,
Helps the fatherless and widow,
Judgment on the wicked sends.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah,
O my soul, Jehovah praise;
I will sing the glorious praises
Of my God through all my days.
Over all God reigns forever,
Through all ages He is King;
Unto Him, your God, O Zion,
Joyful hallelujahs sing.
“Hallelujah Praise Jehovah” 

Words from Psalm 146, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: RIPLEY (8.7.8.7.D.)
Music arranged from Gregorian Chant by Lowell Mason, 1839
©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including guitar chord charts, an arrangement of the hymn tune RIPLEY for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.

More Hymns from History

Songs and God’s Creation

Open Bible and hymn near an ocean at sunset

This is the first of what I hope to be many posts exploring the connection between music for worship and the study of theology. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of creation: natural revelation. The songs are arranged under 16 theological statements, including 5 statements for which I have not yet found related songs.  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of creation that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for “Songs and God’s Creation” in Theology and Song: A Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and God’s Creation: Natural Revelation 

1. Creation affirms that there is a Creator—God created heaven and earth

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

2. Creation glorifies God—all things exist for His glory and praise

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • Behold Our God (Ryan, Jonathan & Meghan Baird / Stephen Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • For the Beauty of the Earth (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)
  • From All That Dwell Below the Skies—Psalm 117 (Isaac Watts)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

3. Creation testifies of God’s wisdom and design

  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

4. The testimony of creation is insufficient for knowing the way of salvation.

  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

5. The testimony of creation leaves man inexcusable

  •  

6. God delights in creation—all things were made for His pleasure

  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

7. God made all of creation and pronounced it good

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)

8. The world was spoken into existence by God’s Word.

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

9. The world was created by God ex nihilio (out of nothing).

  •  

10. The world continues to be upheld and sustained by God

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)

11. God creates all people—He is the One who gives and sustains all life.

  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)

12. God created man (male and female) out of the dust of the earth 

  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)

13. Man was breathed into a living being by God.

14. God made man (male and female) in His own image

  •  

15. God gave man dominion over all other living things on the earth.

  •  

16. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

  • Today We Gather in This Place (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

_______________

The next post in the series will be “Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation.”

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Creation”

TOC for Index: Theology and Song

Theology and Song

Guitar and Hymnal

Music and theology have always been closely entwined. Theology (in the broadest sense) encompasses what we understand to be true about God, His Word, and the world He has made. Music, as it comes alongside theology, helps the church say and celebrate in song what it believes and affirms to be true. 

God’s people have been writing music for thousands of years. Beginning with the rich wellspring of the psalms, music has served the church to carry the voice of God’s people in praise, prayer, and proclamation. Within the many settings of psalms, and numerous hymns and spiritual songs is an opulent banquet of truth. For those who are willing to search, there are many savory delights to be found.

Unfortunately many churches miss out on this feast of song. Some shy away from doctrinally rich lyrics and prefer instead those that are lighter and more subjective. Some, despite Paul’s paradigm in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, exhorting the church to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, impose a more narrow interpretation: “only the psalms,” “only the old hymns that have stood the test of time,” or “only what is new, contemporary, and speaks to me today.” Some are content to sing a limited number of favorites. Others select music based on emotional appeal or a catchy melody, rather than theological soundness.

In this new series, Theology and Song, I hope to encourage pastors and musicians to think theologically about music in worship. Each post will focus on a specific theological topic and will feature a portion of my Theological Index of Church Music

I began the Index 26 years ago (in 1993) as a project for one of my PhD seminars when I was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The index listed 350 psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and arranged them according to the theological truths that they highlight. It proved especially valuable in ministry for planning worship and selecting music that would underscore the sermon. You can read more about the Index in an earlier article: “Selecting Music for Worship—Know Theology.”

As I post this series on my blog, I will be updating and expanding the Index so I can make it available on my website as a resource for worship leaders. My list of songs will certainly not be exhaustive. I’ll be asking for your suggestions and adding songs (as well as more topics) to the Index in the days ahead.

Here is list of some of the upcoming topics: [updated]

Songs and God’s Creation (Natural Revelation)
Songs and God’s Word (Special Revelation)
Songs and the Trinity (One God in Three Persons)
Songs and Knowing God (God’s knowability and Incomprehensibility)
Songs and God’s Presence (God’s Immanence and Transcendence)
Songs and God’s Sovereignty
Songs and God’s Decrees
Songs and God’s Will

TOC for Index: Theology and Song

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

Open God's Word

If we are to know truth, we must abide in God’s Word. If we are to follow Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we must know and obey God’s Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).

But truth is not something we can comprehend on our own. One thing we must always do when we open God’s Word, is pray that His Spirit would illumine our understanding and help us rightly apply truth. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that without the Spirit, we cannot understand the Word. To those who are dead in sin and have no spiritual life, the truth of God’s Word, in fact, appears to be foolishness. Any time we read the Bible, or hear it taught and preached, we should pray that God would teach us, give us understanding, and help us walk in truth.

This is how God instructs us to pray in His Word. The book of Psalms serves as the Bible’s inspired songbook, providing us divinely prescribed instruction on how we must sing and pray and worship the Lord. In Psalm 119:33–40 the psalmist prays:

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.
(Psalm 119:33–40, NKJV)

The following setting of this portion of Psalm 119 is from The Psalter, 1912. Take time to read (and sing) the words. And make this your prayer as you look to God’s Word and seek to walk in its light.

Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

  1. Teach me O Lord Thy way of truth,
    And from it I will not depart;
    That I may steadfastly obey,
    Give me an understanding heart.
  2. In Thy commandments make me walk,
    For in Thy law my joy shall be;
    Give me a heart that loves Thy will,
    From discontent and envy free.
  3. Turn Thou mine eyes from vanity,
    And cause me in Thy ways to tread;
    O let Thy servant prove Thy Word,
    And thus to godly fear be led.
  4. Turn Thou away reproach and fear;
    Thy righteous judgments I confess;
    To know Thy precepts I desire;
    Revive me in Thy righteousness.

“Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth”
Words from Psalm 119:33–40, The Psalter, 1912
Tune: CROSLAND (L.M.)
Music by Tom Wells, 2001
Words ©Public Domain
Music ©2001 Tom Wells (Used by Permission)

Tom Wells (Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas) composed an excellent tune for this setting of Psalm 119:33–40. Download free sheet music (PDF), including a guitar chord chart, an arrangement of the hymn tune CROSLAND for classical guitar.

More Hymns from History

More hymns arranged for Classical Guitar