New Music

New Music: Wesley Prayer (Come Like a Fire)

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, Exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
— A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition - From the United Methodist Hymnal (1989) #607

Thank God it's Over

Well, this year sucked. I know that's not exactly an unpopular or unbelievable statement, but it's probably not what you expected to read on a church blog. I hope you manage to disagree with me - maybe you had the best year ever! And if so, that's awesome.

If not: whether you point to celebrity deaths, the election, or your own personal tragedies to agree with me, I pray that 2017 is a better year for you, filled with happiness and prosperity.

(Here's 2016 reimagined as a horror movie trailer. You're welcome.)

That being said.

"Let me have Nothing"

The prayer at the beginning of this blog has been weighing on my mind all week. It's part of a traditional Wesleyan covenant renewal service we'll be celebrating together on Sunday morning - based by John Wesley on a prayer long since lost to time.

To be very, very honest - I struggle with that prayer. Despite what pop theology suggests, I don't believe that God is a micromanager of humanity, nor do I think that the members of the human race are glorified lemmings. That's clearly not Wesley's original intent here, but the popular notion of God as a glorified programmer writing the code of our lives could skew the concept for someone unfamiliar with Wesleyan theology. It certainly colors my initial understanding

Rev. Jeremy Smith, the Minister of Discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Portland, puts it this way:

"It is clearly commendable to begin the year with renewed commitment and dedication regardless of what the future may have in store. But the Methodist liturgy goes much further. Taken at face value in traditional form it strongly implies that our misfortunes may arise at the divine behest (‘Put me to what thou wilt, put me to suffering’ etc.) Would we suggest that to a friend in distress or to someone entrusted to us for counselling? I hope not. Rather our conviction is that God is our comforter in time of trouble rather than the author of life’s woes."

He continues, with a revision of the above prayer:

I wonder if the ancient language could be revised and the theology tweaked to better bring Wesleyanism again to a generation and context that needs a robust counter to Purpose-Driven Best Life Now Lifeway theology.

To address these concerns for my congregation and for post-Christian or non-Christian newcomers, this is my revision of the short version of Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. It’s more in the spirit of the Message translation of the Bible: it’s a paraphrase in common language, not a word-for-word replacement. Here it is:

I am not my own self-made, self-reliant human being.
In truth, O God, I am Yours.
Make me into what You will.
Make me a neighbor with those whom You will.
Guide me on the easy path for You.
Guide me on the rocky road for You.
Whether I am to step up for You or step aside for You;
Whether I am to be lifted high for You or brought low for You;
Whether I become full or empty, with all things or with nothing;
I give all that I have and all that I am for You.
So be it.
And may I always remember that you, O God, and I belong to each other. Amen.

The paraphrase cleared some things up for me, and I hope it clears them up for you as well.

I was told there would be music.

Ok, ok. What does any of this have to do with music? I was told there would be music.

Like I said earlier, this Sunday morning we'll celebrate a covenant renewal service using a modernized version of Wesley's prayer (don't worry, you won't have to say "wilt"). We'll also be singing Mark Swayze's fantastic arrangement of that same prayer. Watch the lyric and acoustic videos below, enjoy your New Year's Eve celebrations, don't party too hard (I'll be going to sleep early to get the year over with), and come commit 2017 to serving God this Sunday morning. 

Happy New Year!

-Matt


Matt Dailey serves as Worship Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2013. When he's not leading worship and designing graphics, he enjoys baseball, comic books and team trivia (his team is nationally ranked. #micdrop). Read more about Matt here.

New Music: Say the Word

Note: Ok, I might have gotten carried away with this one. I'm a geek and I like to talk about worship, so lots of words and videos to work through this time. If you want the tl;dr (too long; didn't read) version, skip to "What on earth does this have to do with Say the Word?"


Hillsong United is getting a lot of great press right now, including a highly praised appearance on NBC's "Today Show" and the release of the documentary detailing the writing and recording of 2015's "Empires," "Let Hope Rise." It's not often that a worship band makes it into the realm of public consciousness, but the guys in United are defying those expectations right now. It's even more unlikely when you consider that they started as an admittedly rowdy youth worship band in the early 2000s.

"History" Lessons

(Can you use the words "history" and "modern worship" in the same context? I'm going to. #spoilers)

I'm 26 years old, so my time growing up in youth group (my first experience with church in general) in some ways paralleled the maturation of Hillsong United. I never cared much for them when I was a teenager - their stuff was catchy enough, but it was a little inaccessible for a kid like me. I was the only musician in my youth group, a piano player at that, and their stuff was high energy and guitar driven (My predilection for metal music didn't help either). But as I got older and developed as a worship leader, Joel Houston progressed and developed as a worship leader and songwriter as well. Over that time, shallow bouncers like "One Way" (you can click the link, but I'll warn you: it's not great. What can I say? That was youth worship in 2003) gave way to more serious attempts, such as 2006's "United We Stand" - still a high water mark for the relatively fledgling Modern Worship Movement. "United We Stand" featured songs like "From the Inside Out," "Came to my Rescue," and "The Stand" and heavily influenced the next 10 years of worship music. 2006 was the year I started leading worship seriously, and suddenly I found myself reaching for more and more Hillsong in my setlists (though I was definitely more of a David Crowder kind of guy.) (This story has a lot of parenthetical moments)

Fast forward to 2013. I stop at 2013 because that's the year that Hillsong United "grew up" with the release of "Zion," which you probably know as the album that introduced "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," and it's singer Taya Smith, to the world (Not to be confused with "Broceans." take the 30 seconds and thank me later) It's also, coincidentally, the year that I started working here at Navarre, and began considering ministry as a career. That last part is incidental, really, but I like the symbolism. Zion as an album was a complete tonal departure from everything the band had done in the past, while being a serious leap forward in lyrical maturity at the same time. (#spoilers: Oceans isn't even the best track on the album - that honor goes to "Scandal of Grace"). Zion showed a new dedication to creativity and maturity that has helped give the church's modern expression of worship meaning and legitimacy. That expression continued with the release of 2015's "Empires." Which brings us to the point of this whole walk down memory lane.

What on earth does this have to do with Say the Word?

(Hey, you're still reading! Or maybe you skipped here because history is boring. Either way, /highfive. )

Here's what 12 years of maturity looks like lyrically:

I lay my life down at your feet,
'cause you're the only one I need.
I look to You and You are always there

- One Way (2003)
Say the word and there is light
Say the word and dead bones rise
Every start and end hangs on Your voice
For Your word never returns void

- Say the Word (2015)

There are times that I listen to Hillsong United and am taken aback at new ways that Joel finds to say basic truth. "Your word never returns void." I love that line.

So we've been working through Christian to the Core, a study and sermon series about the core values of our faith. And while I was working through the lesson for Week 3 - Passion for the Harvest, this song kept running through my head. And it wouldn't leave. I found myself coming back to those verses, and I couldn't shake the feeling that this was something that our congregation needed to be singing. Now, if you've never had hours of your life taken from you listening to me talk about how I plan worship (my poor worship team, man), then you're probably unaware of how long it takes a song to make it from first listen to being scheduled for worship. I've got an admittedly over-meticulous process for evaluating and critiquing and preparing a song for Sunday morning worship, and it takes a long time. At the moment we've got a setlist of about 40 songs that we sing on a regular basis for Sundays. This year, we've introduced 14 new songs, 11 of which are still on that list. There are over 75 songs sitting in a spreadsheet that have been vetted and approved for potentially being introduced on Sunday mornings, and some of those songs will never see the light of day in our sanctuary.

That's what makes "Say the Word" so unusual. When Hillsong United released their "Empires" album last year, I vetted the few songs that stuck out to me. Somehow, I missed this one. Maybe it was the arrangement, maybe it was the placement between two great songs, maybe it was just where I was at at the time. Who knows? All that to say, "Say the Word" was never on that list. Then I heard the acoustic arrangement (linked below), and really started to listen to the words of the song for the first time. That acoustic arrangement was recorded on the mount of the beatitudes, where Jesus gave the "Sermon on the Mount" from Matthew 5. That was a very poignant realization for me, and hearing this song in that context changed my understanding.

This song says some very important things about the way that God's Word works in our lives, and I felt that it was something that we needed to be singing in this season of our lives. I can't believe I almost missed it!

Ok, I'll shut up. (Maybe.) Take a few minutes to hear the song story below, and catch the acoustic version as well. 

Blessings!

-Matt



Matt Dailey serves as Worship Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2013. When he's not leading worship and designing graphics, he enjoys baseball, comic books and team trivia (his team is nationally ranked. #micdrop). Read more about Matt here.

New Music: Ever Be

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.

Psalm 30:11-12 (The Voice)


To be completely honest, I don't usually like songs like "Ever Be," by Bethel Music. Repetitive choruses are kind of controversial in modern worship music - detractors have lots of catchy and insulting names for songs that repeat themselves like this one does - so I normally try to avoid them on Sunday mornings. The first time I heard it, the chorus caught my ear, and I found myself humming/singing it for the next week! However, one catchy chorus does not a good worship song make. But after a few listens, I found myself drawn in by the second verse: 

You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own

You're making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
 
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name

If that verse or my reaction to it sounds familiar to you, you probably read my last blog entry about "Jesus We Love You." (Read it here) These two songs are back to back on a phenomenal album by Bethel Music called "We Will Not Be Shaken." (Buy it here, it's worth every penny) It's a complete coincidence that we introduced these back to back - I keep a running list of about 50-75 songs that we could introduce at any time, and I've never introduced two songs from the same band back to back before; much less these really popped out at me for the season that our congregation is in. Despite that coincidence, I don't think that their placement on the album or in our worship services is a coincidence at all. In the midst of so much turmoil in the world, it's easy to find ourselves feeling distant to God, or even ambivalent about God's love. But these two songs serve as a testimony of the faithfulness of God despite the storm. That's the kind of thing that we're absolutely desperate for a reminder of.

Kalley Heiligenthal wrote the chorus to "Ever Be" during a moment of spontaneous worship at an evening service, and found herself trying to make it into a complete song for nearly the entire next year. Talking about the process, she said,

"The Lord spoke to me and said 'I gave you that chorus and bridge as a freebie, so together we could mine out why My praise will ever be on your lips.' And that started a really long process - about a year - of writing draft after draft after draft about why His praise will ever be on my lips. I have a notebook that I affectionately refer to as my "Ever Be Notebook" - I filled every page...I knew in my heart who He was, but I didn't have the words that I wanted to articulate His faithfulness, His Love toward me, His commitment."

Those verses are the result of an entire year of prayer, scripture reading, discernment, and exploration of the nature of God. And maybe that's why this song resonates with me so much: It doesn't just throw out a line like "your praise will ever be on my lips," it backs it up. God has done so much in our lives that we physically can't help but praise. 

For example: The first time we sang this song on a Sunday morning (about three weeks ago), I wasn't leading from the piano. I had given the reigns to my associate, Daniel, and was playing the service from the drum set. We kind of have a "procedure" for introducing new worship music. Every time we do a new song, we play it during our reflection time during the first week while the congregation is seated and focusing on their response to God. As we built the song there was a palpable tension in the room, and I couldn't quite figure out why. It soon became obvious:

You will be praised! You will be praised!
With angels and saints, we sing worthy are You Lord!

We began to sing those words, and within a few seconds I had the most amazing view: the entire congregation was on their feet worshiping God. That's not the work of a musical crescendo or a catchy melody or even good lyrics; that's the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we recognize the unshakeable goodness of God.

I strongly encourage you to take a listen to Kalley's testimony about this song - I've attached it below along with an in-depth song story interview and the live music video. May God's praise ever be on your lips.

 

Blessings!

-Matt


Read more about the story behind the song at New Release Today.


Matt Dailey serves as Worship Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2013. When he's not leading worship and designing graphics, he enjoys baseball, comic books and team trivia (his team is nationally ranked. #micdrop). Read more about Matt here.

New Music: Jesus We Love You

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

 

One of my favorite parts of being a Worship Leader is the never-ending quest for new songs to use while we worship God. We live in a time where there are so many churches producing quality, singable, theologically sound worship music; it's actually very difficult to narrow down what to introduce because of that.

That being said, "Jesus We Love You," by Bethel Music, has quickly become one of my favorite songs to use in worship. The first time I heard it used in a live setting was at the SALT Conference in Nashville last year, and I remember being blown away by the second verse in particular:

The hopeless have found their hope
The orphans now have a home
All that was lost has found its place in You

You lift our weary head
You make us strong instead
You took these rags and made us beautiful

Such a powerful representation of the love that God has given to us, followed by a challenge to do something about it. "For all that you've done, we will pour out our love." We get to love because he first loved us.

I've embedded the song story, lyric video, and a few playlists and links below. I hope that you find encouragement in the truths of this new song. Sing it loud!

 

Blessings!

-Matt


Read more about the story behind the song at New Release Today.


Matt Dailey serves as Worship Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2013. When he's not leading worship and designing graphics, he enjoys baseball, comic books and team trivia. Read more about Matt here.