‘Hold On (Close to the Broken-Hearted)’ by Jason French
Jason French has been a friend for years; and has Oklahoma roots.
Here’s a song he posted today. He writes,
“In light of the devastation many in Oklahoma have faced in the past few days with the tornadoes, this is a song of hope and an encouragement to seek the Lord in this time of tragedy. He’s there to hold on to us. Hold on to Him. Hold on.”
Find more of Jason’s songs at
Psalm 82 Genevan Psalter - setting by Claude Goudimel - viol consort
The Genevan Psalter is a collection of metrical psalms created under the supervision of John Calvin for liturgical use by the Reformed churches of the city of Geneva in the sixteenth century.
Before the Protestant Reformation the singing of the Psalms was generally done by a select group of performers, not by the entire congregation. John Calvin understood that the entire congregation was to participate in praising God in the worship service. Already in his famous work Institutes of the Christian Religion of 1536 he speaks of the importance of the singing of Psalms. Later in Articles for the organization of the church and its worship in Geneva, January 16, 1537, Calvin writes the following: “it is a thing most expedient for the edification of the church to sing some psalms in the form of public prayers by which one prays to God or sings His praises so that the hearts of all may be roused and stimulated to make similar prayers and to render similar praises and thanks to God with a common love.” For this reason he wanted to create a song book in a form easily accessible to the people.
After being forced to move away from Geneva in 1538, Calvin settled in Strasbourg. He joined the Huguenot Congregation there where he also led numerous worship services. It was in Strasbourg where he got familiar with the German versification of the Psalms written by Martin Luther and others. Calvin took these songs to his French congregation for which he wrote some metrical versifications himself. His own versions of the Psalms were apparently not of sufficient quality and he turned to the French court poet, Clément Marot who already versified most of the psalms in French during the first part of the sixteenth century.
Here we listen to a setting of Psalm 82 with one of these old melodies, performed by a viol consort.
For MIDI, mp3, and PDF files for Psalm 82, go to
You’ll find a 2-stanza singable English translation of the lyrics at
and a 4-stanza version by a different translator at
Benefit Album for Tornado-hit Moore, Oklahoma
DFW Collective is a group of musicians in my area. They’ve just released a 23-song album - all benefits for the tornado survivors in Moore, Oklahoma.
“Singer-Songwriters of Dallas Texas and their friends have joined together to support Moore. As artists we have little to offer, but what we DO have is our art, which each of us create for the common good. When faced with the devastation we decided to offer our music to our friends and fans for free, and in return ask you to “TIP” and help us raise support for the people of Moore.
“Every dollar that is given will go to organizations who already have teams on the ground in Moore. We ask of you to please, give generously to the people in need.”
The music styles are eclectic on this compilation. Roughly half the songs have overt Christian lyrics.
‘The Gifting of Songs: What We Can Learn from Other Communities’ by Joel Navarro
‘Dr. Joel Navarro is associate professor of music at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches conducting and directs campus choirs. As the recipient of numerous awards in performance and education in his native Philippines, he is widely known as a conductor, educator, singer, recording artist, composer, arranger, stage actor, record producer, and music consultant. An active performer of music from different eras and ethnic traditions, he takes an ardent interest in postmodern music and the music traditions and liturgies of the world.’
The last time I ministered with Joel was January 2013 at the Calvin Worship Symposium, as I played percussion and he led some of the choir singing in the ‘Asian Vespers’ service.
The latest issue of Reformed Worship journal includes a number of articles related to the new hymnal ‘Lift Up Your Hearts.’
I’ll be profiling this wonderful song resource soon. For today, here are excerpts from Joel’s article ‘The Gifting of Songs: What We Can Learn from Other Communities.’ Reposted from
The sung word has an inherent power that pierces the heart, mind, and imagination all at the same time. For example, we speak about the lyrical beauty of poetry and the spiritual reach and depth of the psalms. When the psalms are sung and received well by the worshiper, they become deeply embedded in memory. They speak the language of the worshiper’s joy and lament.
However, for many of us, our ears are so accustomed to hearing a certain type of song—familiar modality, harmonic language and progression, versification and structural form, rhythmic pattern, cadential formula, and idiom or style—that the songs of another community or another language seem strange.
Consider the opening strains of “Abana alathi fi ssama/Abana in Heaven,” one of the songs in the new hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts (p. 35).
[I’ll profile this song from the Middle East in a later post. For now, you can hear the MIDI file at the webpage
I sensed the cautious approach of some folks in my predominantly white church when this was first introduced. I heard them stumbling through that augmented second descent on the melody at measure 6.
Responses were mixed. Some thought it reminded them too much of Islamic influence; others embraced it with stunned awe and tearful conviction. But the more we sang this piece, the more it grew on the congregation, and the more fervent the singing became. I often choke up when I sing this song. You can imagine my delight to see many in this largely Dutch-American congregation having an experience similar to mine. I suppose this is typical of any church that sings or hears something unfamiliar. Worshipers may have any one or a combination of four responses:
1. Rejection. Anything that is unfamiliar is immediately dismissed or associated with an unpleasant experience or an undesirable idea. The music and text is “boring,” does not elicit excitement, does not “connect.” But the truth is that often the worshiper is disconnected with the whole notion of change, hospitality, and counterculture.
2. Indifference. A worshiper may experience a neutral response to the unfamiliar tune, lyric, and style. This is disconnection without strong impulse (apathy).
3. Curiosity. Some word, phrase, or turn of melody arouses the interest of the worshiper. It lingers with the mind for a while, and the worshiper examines the song or hymn once again and allows it to speak to the other places in her heart.
4. Acceptance. The hymn or song becomes a part of the worshiper’s experience of worship. The vocabulary of the worship experience is broadened, heightened, deepened. Barriers are broken; understanding is forged; there is a renewed openness to the idea that the experience of Christianity may be amazingly different but scintillatingly common to our celebration of Christ’s salvific work in our lives.
In our congregational singing, I believe it is important to open one’s ear, mind, and heart to the strange and unfamiliar. If we do, we can learn some valuable lessons:
1. The diversity of God’s gifting. Paul speaks of the various gifts of the Spirit and the gifts in the church. We are each uniquely different and uniquely beloved by God. Our diversity is a symbol of the plethora of riches Christ gives to his bride. Let us accept this immeasurable gift and celebrate it with our whole being.
2. The unity of the church. Christ wants the worldwide body of believers to be one. We are different threads sewn together into one tapestry of faith, culture, and voice. It is tantalizing to see those vivid colors, feel those textures, and smell the fragrance of those varied threads dipped in the perfume of a community’s offering that is different from ours.
3. Hospitality. To welcome strangers and learn from them, treating them as our guests and acting as hosts to their culture and community, is the highest form of hospitality. On Sundays, churches are often the most segregated places. When this happens, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We tell Christ that his prayer in John 17 is impossible to achieve here and now.
4. Living the Revelation vision. The book of Revelation describes an incredible scene in heaven where people from every tribe and every nation are gathered in the presence of the Lamb. The Revelation vision needs to be approximated in the here and now, especially in our worship gatherings.
Singing the songs of another community expresses much more than the desire to be multicultural. It reflects Christ’s incarnational presence in various cultures and worship experiences. He calls his people to gather together, to go out into the public square, into every corner of the world, not only to deliver his message of salvation but to share his desire for all creation to be renewed and reconciled in him.
When we adopt the language of another culture’s worship, we are simply singing the redemptive work of the Spirit that is undeniably common to all of Christ’s church. May all the songs in the new hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts find their place at the core of our singing—in our churches, in the fields and in the desert, in the workplace and in our dormitories, in the shelters for the homeless and the elderly, at our dining tables and fireplaces, and wherever we greet the beloved Stranger who knocks at the door of our hearts.
“Singing the songs of another community expresses much more than the desire to be multicultural. It reflects Christ’s incarnational presence in various cultures and worship experiences.”
James Ward’s funky rap of the books of the Bible
Here’s a 2007 remix of James Ward’s rap of the books of the Bible that was originally released in 1990 on “Over All the World.”
He writes, “This time we slowed it down, rerecorded a soul groove, and brought youth into the studio to help with the rap and the chorus! If you need a teaching aid for the 66 books, this is made for you! The CD is at www.jameswardmusic.com, and includes trax for you to perform this classic JW tune.”
Here are some photos from the recording session:
Get the lyrics at
Here’s one version of the song:
‘God, We’ve Known Such Grief and Anger’ hymn text in the face of disaster
Caroline Winfrey Gillette has written many new hymn texts for a multitude of occasions. Here’s one she wrote in the face of disaster.
God, We’ve Known Such Grief and Anger
tune: IN BABILONE 184.108.40.206 D (“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”)
God, we’ve known such grief and anger as we’ve heard your people cry.
We have asked you, “How much longer?” We have sadly wondered, “Why?”
In this world of so much suffering, may we hear your word anew:
“I will never leave you orphaned; I will not abandon you.”
By your grace comes resurrection; by your love, you cast out fear.
You give strength and sure direction as we seek to serve you here.
You give comfort to the grieving, and you bless the ones who mourn.
May we trust in you, believing out of chaos, hope is born.
Hope is ours for, God, you love us! You have claimed us by your grace.
And through Jesus, you have called us to bring hope to every place.
In each rescue worker’s caring, in each faithful volunteer,
In each Christian’s love and sharing, God, we glimpse your kingdom here.
Tune: Dutch melody, arr. by Julius Rontgen (1855-1933)
Text: Copyright © 2002 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Copied from Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Upper Room Books, 2009).
Permission is given for use of this hymn for local church use.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.carolynshymns.com
Psalm 67: jazzy CCM from Holland
Opwekking (Revival Songs’) is a Christian worship ministry in Holland under the umbrella ministry called ‘Revival.’
“In its fifty year history, Revival evolved into an interdenominational organization that is actively involved in preaching the gospel and equipping Christians from all denominations and denominations.” They are based on the Great Commissions (Matthew 28:19). Their annual Pentecost Conference draws 60,000 people.
They host conferences, produce CDs, and publish magazines with Christian content (all in Dutch).
Find them on Facebook at
This track, Psalm 67, is from their new CD - number 37!’ - called ‘Revival Songs #747-758.’
Find the original Dutch lyrics at
Here’s a translation into English (auto-translation by Google):
Lord. bless us with undeserved love
and above all, let us see your face
bright as the sun.
The world will see how you deal with us
and the way that you, Lord, rises with us
offers us views.
Let the people sing for you,
Thank You because You are good.
Let the peoples thank You,
for you are good, great God!
You, world, cheer:
God takes the right hands,
reigns as King over all countries,
takes you by the hand.
God blesses us: a rich harvest came.
The Lord gives us much more than we deserve.
Blessings come from God!
Lord, stay with us, do give us your blessing,
so in all the earth every living
full of awe.
New EP from The Seale Family Singers
Jonathan Seale has been a friend for a few years. As well as producing major music events through Mason Jar Music (NYC), he and his sister Jenni have an informal band of family and friends.
Today they released their newest EP of 4 songs, all of which are common and tied into family happenings. Get it for ‘pay-what-you-like’ and read more about the importance of these songs in their extended family at
Here’s a great version of ‘Sanctuary’ by 3 singers (all related) and a violinist
Written by Randy Scruggs and John Thompson in 1982.
Motif Worship: Forthcoming Album + Psalm 61
Motif Worship is a ministry led by my friend Jelani Greenidge, I really appreciate his musical skills, his heart for multicultural worship, and insights into church and culture from the Black perspective.
He’s working on a new album of multicultural worship songs - learn about it here:
As the latest in a long line of music ministers, I grew up in an intentionally multiethnic church (the first of its kind in our denomination!). Being a part of my church and family all those years, I learned how to sing and create worship music that appealed broadly to both Black and White audiences.
In 2010, I did my best to follow God’s leading by starting a training resource called Motif Worship. For the last few years, we’ve been doing worship events in local churches in order to demonstrate a more diverse format of music using Yamaha keyboards. Since then, we’ve been getting consistently positive responses across the country, but we want to launch this ministry on a larger scale.
In order to do that, we’ve decided to record an original worship music project that will stretch boundaries of culture, genre and style, all in the name of bringing diverse groups of people together for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So If you’ve ever been in a church service and felt like the music was just stuck in a rut, and you wondered what you could do about it… here’s what you can do about it.
Go here to participate:
I’ve profiled some great song productions by Motif Worship in earlier blog posts:
For today, here’s Jelani’s version of Psalm 61 (Hear My Cry), music composed by Patrick Roaché,
Consumer Worship (Dan Stevers)
When worship becomes all about our experiences, we are on shaky ground. Our bellies may be filled, but we’ve missed true worship by a mile and have become consumers of worship vs. those who are consumed for God’s fame.
This video by Dan Stevers humorously exaggerates the consumer attitude that many have towards worship. How does it make me feel? Does it suit my personal taste? Do I have time for it in my busy schedule?
What do you do to help steer people away from ‘consumer worship’?