nativity
“Nativity” provided by “JohnsonFamily2003” – flickr

What in the world is Christmas all about?  A friend of mine sometimes joyously refers to it as, “The Incarnation Celebration”.  What – you may ask – is the Incarnation?  The word incarnation defined means: a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or abstract quality.  In other words, GOD TOOK ON FLESH!  HE BECAME A MAN!  WOW!  How humbly he came though, not with huge celebration or a video premier, but chose to begin his humanity in the womb of a young virgin named Mary.

His young cries were first raised from a stable below the stars.  Angels visited shepherds and proclaimed his coming.  Wealthy kings travelled and brought gifts from afar, all to behold – God in the flesh.  He was no longer free to wander across the universe but chose for a season to make earth his home.  From Bethlehem where he was born, to Calvary where he died was less than 10 miles.  Why would he come and live such a confined life on such a big planet?

He came because of his love, because he was sent on a rescue mission – sent by his father.  John 3:16 paints the clearest picture for us:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God created us to live eternally with him but through our disobedience, we became sinful; and as a result, death – spiritual and physical – came into the world.  That’s what “perishing” means.

He came with a two-fold purpose:

  1. To live a sinless life and satisfy the precepts of the law
    • John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 
    • Pastor Steve Cassarino put it like this: “He got 100% on the exam of righteousness”
  2. To die a sacrificial death and fulfill the penalty of the law
    • 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became our substitute to live a life we could not live and to die a death we deserved.  When we place our trust in Jesus – God in the flesh – we receive his righteous life as our own, and his payment of sin on our behalf and that is what “Joy to the World” is all about.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Here’s a little instrumental version you can sing along with…

Merry Christmas from the weak & the few

: )~

After almost a year and a half of toiling in the musical kitchen – cooking and mixing and tasting and changing menus – we have just released our next EP titled “One Thing”.  We were originally going to use a different theme but along the way, the song “One Thing” popped up and changed our direction.

“One Thing” was originally written in the mid ’70s and was used as a song for worship times at our church.  At the time it only had the one verse based on Psalm 27:4

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

We really felt like the song could say so much more so we added a second verse that describes our plight of sin – our tangled, running away, spiritual blindness, and ignorance of truth – and the way God rescued us by being “lifted up” on a cross – motivated by his undying love.

The project features Sierra Cook on vocals and Roger Hooper on keyboards, and with those two gifted musicians, everything just sounds better.  We are so grateful to be able to use our little musical gifts and productions to glorify the Savior and to serve to advance his mission to the lost.   What a privilege it is!

Please enjoy the following video!

: )~

the weak & the few

 

What could be a better day than Thanksgiving to release our second installment of the “The Attic Tapes”.

Excellent hymns are timeless and you wouldn’t know that “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” was written in the last 25 years except to look at the Copyright date.  Gifted songwriter and lyricist Stuart Townend has crafted this particular hymn with every element that makes a great hymn great.  From the 5/4 time signature with ascending melodies; to the stylistic and persuasive rhetorical style of questions that cannot be answered, it is a song that conveys compelling truths to the soul.

One thing I love about the instrumental version of any good song is that the melody carries the lyrics to the tongue of your mind and what better lyrics would you have brought to your mind on thanksgiving than these:

How deep the Father’s Love for us,
How vast beyond all measure…

All thanks and praise to our glorious Savior for his glorious gospel of good news!

Hope you enjoy!

: )~

Lyrics:
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart TownendCopyright © 1995 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

Weekly around the globe, church families of all sizes and cultures come together to worship God and to hear his holy word preached.  Hopefully that includes times of joyful celebration and adoration of the Savior in song.  The number one priority for every church’s music ministry should be to build a God glorifying song database.  PC SongsIt should be filled with songs that have proven to be effectively used by the Holy Spirit to reveal the most compelling truths about God, his glorious gospel, his mission to the lost, and our future with him.  It should be continually growing with new songs as God continues to inspire songwriters around the world and into the future until his return.

Building a Worship Song Database –  We use three primary (but flexible) guidelines/categories for choosing songs for our database:

  • Songs of Declaration
    We need not look much further than the book of Psalms to see what was called for and what came forth from the saints of old when they came into his glorious temple.  Songs of loud celebration, proclamation, and declaration of who God is in his awesome glory and majesty.  Songs that exalt his name, his creation, his works, his attributes, and his word.  Songs that support the full expression of the gathered saints praise – in body, soul, and spirit. (i.e., shouts of joyful praise, lifting of holy hands, dancing, etc…)
  • Songs of Redemption
    Songs that proclaim his glorious gospel and the re-telling of it; bringing us fresh perspectives of our salvation; especially songs that effectively communicate Christ’s substitutionary sinless life and death, and his resurrection.  Songs that tell of our sinfulness and greatest need; and make us aware of how much we have been forgiven. Songs of his amazing grace and kindness to lost souls demonstrated by his sacrificial love.
  • Songs of Response
    Songs that provide us with ample opportunity to express the overflow of praise and worship that comes through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.
    “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”  Psalm 45:1
    Many responsive songs by themselves can be weak theologically but when coupled with songs of redemption, afford the saints a foundation for responding to our God.

Of course for many songs there will be overlap between categories but that’s not a problem because these are flexible – not fixed – guidelines/categories.

The Progression – As the database continues to grow with these blessed songs, these categories also provide some helpful direction for band leaders preparing song selections for services.  Our band leaders select songs with these categories in mind when preparing for services.  First songs will usually be songs of declaration, followed with songs of redemption, and lastly songs of response.

We do not actually tag our songs with these categories although we could, but we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our band leaders during the selection process, praying for them to hear from God in their choices.  The pastors always review selections for final approval and also provide any dynamic direction that may affect choices like a particular topic or song request.

We believe these categories help us to be more focused and purposeful in our planning in order to best serve our congregations and guests.  Singing songs that declare and proclaim the God of all creation lays a foundation for the presentation of the gospel found in songs of redemption.   Discovering that the glorious God of all creation is also the one who provides us a path to redemption through the sending of his Son (1 John 4:10), makes his sacrifice all the more precious.  Now what is left to do but respond in joyful adoration and worship with every part of our being!

: )~

 

John Bunyan was a Puritan preacher who lived in England in the middle of the 17th century. While imprisoned for 12 years (for preaching the gospel), he wrote, among other things, the allegory: “Pilgrim’s Progress”. The original and complete title being displayed in the figure following. imageIn the “First Stage” of the book, the author falls asleep and dreams he sees a man clothed in rags, a book in his hand, and a great burden on his back. The man’s name is Christian and he has just become aware of his “deplorable” condition – sin. Christian is greatly distressed because he was also informed that his city and all who are in it (including his wife and children) will be burned with “fire from heaven.” Enough to whet your appetite. You can read the whole book online here, or through your favorite ebook/book seller.

The lyrics to the title track of our latest EP, “What A Place Is This” were adapted from a portion of the “Third Stage” of the book. The following portion of the book describes what Christian beheld.

Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Isaiah 26:1. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.” Then he stood still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Zech. 12:10. Now as he stood looking and weeping, behold, three Shining Ones came to him, and saluted him with, “Peace be to thee.” So the first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” Mark 2:5; the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment, Zech. 3:4; the third also set a mark on his forehead, Eph. 1:13, and gave him a roll with a seal upon it, which he bid him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the celestial gate: so they went their way. Then Christian gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing,

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blest cross! blest sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!”

“The beginning of our bliss!” Not sure there is a better way to express salvation at the cross of Christ. No more the burden of guilt and shame; no more clothed in disgusting and filthy rags; no more fear of eternal punishment. Now only memories of the sorrow that brings eternal rest and the death that brings life eternally. The cross of Christ is where streams of tears and shouts of joy bring forth an everlasting song!  We must look and look again to behold its wonders!

O what a place is this! The beginning of our bliss!

Mr. C

: )~

Check out our latest video.

When I think of my earliest memories of the word substitute, it brings to mind two impressions: the substitute teacher, and being a “sub” on a sports team.  The first you always enjoyed because substitute teachers were something new and different from the monotony and daily grind of the K-12 years.  They were generally kind, and almost always lenient (something I invariably needed) and usually less demanding.   

Then there was coming off the bench.  In sports, being a second (or third) stringer was never any fun.  Always hoping the basketball team would get a huge lead that would provide an opportunity to play – at least for the last 30 seconds of the game.  Fighting off the temptation to hope that someone would not show up, or even worse – get hurt – so that you might get some playing time.  Best thing you could do was work to keep your grades up; knowing that some of the most athletically gifted are not always the brightest; and by the next grading period the team might be reduced to group of smart losers.

Truth be told, we all need a substitute, but of a different and more important kind; and for two primary reasons:

  • To fulfill the precepts of the law
    • The perfect and holy law of God demands perfect and holy obedience to Him who is the author of it
    • Being in a fallen state, (see Genesis 3) we can never fulfill the law’s demands
  • To fulfill the penalty of the law
    • The law demands passing of judgement on those who fail to meet its requirements
    • Romans 6:23 states: “For the wages of sin is death…”  Death is required for all sinners and – “all have sinned…”  Romans 3: 23

Jesus did come to die for our sins but before he could do that, he had to first live a sinless life on our behalf – all those years from the manger to the cross.  Scripture says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“Jesus In My Place”, a song by Matt Pappa and Jonathan Welch says it quite succinctly:

Living the life I could not live
Dying the death that I deserved
Jesus in my place, Jesus in my place
This is hope, this is grace
Jesus in my place

Thanks be to God for his great love that would send his only son – our substitute – to live and die for us!  And also for giving us his word in song from excellent writers and musicians like Matt Papa and Jonathan Welch from Summit Worship.

Audio and lyrics are available on the Summit Worship site on bandcamp and you can view the song performance on YouTube here.

Mr. C

: )~

A few weeks ago we discovered an arrangement for an old song we truly love, “Hallelujah! What A Savior” by Philip P. Bliss.

bliss_pp
Philip P. Bliss

The arrangement is by Aaron Ivey with Austin Stone Worship.  Ivey’s arrangement is lively and loud with an added chorus and some changes to several verses from a previous arrangement by Bob Kauflin with Sovereign Grace Music.  We really love the added chorus:
Hallelujah! praise to the One
Whose blood has pardoned me
Oh what a Savior!  Redeemer and King
Your love has rescued me

We do prefer keeping the original and unmodified five – compelling – gospel centered verses and feel that with the added chorus it makes an excellent congregational version.  We do it in the Key of G and I’ve attached a chord chart for download if you wish to use it with your church family.

You can view and listen to Aaron Ivey’s version on youtube here.    Enjoy worshiping the Savior – and what a Savior is He!

Mr. C
: )~

Good morning Tech-Team enthusiasts!  Our first post will be to pass along to you a collection of videos that explain and simplify many aspects of working in sound-reinforcement.  A few topics to whet your appetite:

  • Setting gains
  • Filters
  • EQs
  • Compressors
  • StudioLive Equipment Overviews

SGC Tech-Team Video Playlist

Hope you enjoy, and let us know if you have any thoughts/questions…

Mr. C   : )~

Welcome to our new website! We are soooo glad you stopped by. It truly is a wonderful thing to have someone – anyone – visit and actually take time to browse and read.  When you’ve invested time, energy, and effort researching and producing various items that you hope will be of some of interest to your readers (and for a band – listeners), you anticipate they will take a moment – ponder together with you – and be blessed.  So it needs to be said, that we are very grateful that you have given of your valuable time to spend a few moments with us and hopefully some of what we share will prove to be of value to you and yours.

Music that comes from the weak & the few has been born out of a love for the gospel and a desire to serve the Savior, His beloved church family, and His mission to the lost. In the future we hope to be able to have lot’s of fun discussing many of the favorite things we get to do as “church-band” musicians (instrumentalists and vocalists), and tech-teams (the one’s who do sound reinforcement). We’ll be discussing some church-band philosophy, tips and tricks we’ve learned, ideas we’ve found helpful, song recommendations, links to music and video, and hopefully much more. Keep your eyes peeled and please contact us with any questions/comments.

Well, thanks again for stopping by! I’m off to finish up the launch of our website and make sure that if you wish to contact us, your email will go to the correct address… (We may also try to make it possible to subscribe to our posts in the not-too-distant future…)

mr. c
: )~