magnify! devotional: In Christ Alone

I thought it might be good to share a sample of the devotionals in magnify!, and I can’t think of a better one to start with than the Stuart Townend/Keith Getty “modern hymn”–In Christ Alone (My Hope is Found).
_____________________________________________________________

If your theology were only based on what you sing, what kind of theology would you have?  That question, put to me years ago, has followed me ever since.  For many years, we had battles within the church about “worship choruses” versus hymns.  The battle had to do with a false division of heart over head and emotion over proposition, common language over lofty language—a battle that has waged in church music for centuries (psalms vs. hymns, hymns vs. gospel songs, etc.).

Actually, when we come face to face with truth, it has an emotional impact.  We can’t help but respond.  Do you remember what it felt like when that special person disclosed the truth of their feelings for you?  Or what happened inside you when you heard about that injustice against your neighbor?  Or how it impacted you when you realized the truth of how much God loved you in spite of your sin?

Remember, people may forget the main points of the sermon shortly after they walk out the door, but they’ll be humming and singing your songs all week!  (Please don’t tell your pastor, but it is true!)  With that in mind, we have an obligation to pay attention to what the songs we use actually say.  We need to ensure that the folks we serve have something true to think about, as well as something to respond with from the heart.  We do need both.

I observed a classic moment of truth evoking tremendous response the first time I led our congregation singing “In Christ Alone.”  This song is full of incredible truth combined with the perfect melody to accent the lyric.  After the first two verses which speak eloquently of the love of Christ and of His death, the lyric paints a picture:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!

As we got to the fourth line, people (many who wouldn’t normally) began to shout, applaud and cheer, and by the end of the verse, there was nearly universal acclamation.  As if that wasn’t enough, the fourth verse and its assurance of God’s guiding and sustaining love left me choked up, hardly able to sing.

That’s powerful—and it left a lasting impression of truth on heart and mind.  It was glorious.  That’s worship.

As you plan to lead “In Christ Alone,” consider these things:

• I dare you to read aloud the verses to this modern hymn in your rehearsal without choking up!

• Because of the depth of the content, be sure and allow an interlude between each verse.  You need time to chew on it, reflect and then swallow before the next serving.

• This song will work in a number of different musical styles.  Experiment with the setting and change it up a bit to introduce folks who might not ordinarily sing “a hymn” to the power of the truth it contains.  Don’t go for emotional manipulation, but it can work with guitar, congas and a penny whistle or a full orchestra or an edgy band with a drum loop going. Just don’t tell them it’s a hymn!

[© 2011 Fred J. Heumann and Word Music. In Christ Alone, © 2001 Thankyou Music.]

Question: What else do you see in this song that could be emphasized?

Advertisements

magnify! now on sale online

My book, “magnify! • 105 modern worship devotionals for lead worshippers and their teams” is now available for purchase at theworshipservice.com.  It contains song lyrics, devotionals and discussion/application questions around 105 of the most-used songs in the church today in the US.

It is specifically designed as a resource and reference book for worship leaders, worship pastors, and team members who want to get below the surface of the songs and get to know and understand them better.  These devotionals should increase your ability to worship with the Spirit and the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15), to encourage you and help disciple both your team and congregation.

There are songs from Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Stuart Townend, Paul Baloche, Matt Redman, Brenton Brown, Israel Houghton, Tim Hughes, Delirious?, Vineyard, and many more. You can get full details and order the book here.  Let others know!

Put any questions or comments about “magnify!” here…

magnify! and Liberty University

While its’ release has yet to be publicly announced, my new book “magnify! • 105 modern worship devotionals for lead worshippers and their teams” has been made a required text for Liberty University’s Center for Worship intensive this term and their “Theology of Worship” course.  I’m thrilled to be a part and grateful to Dr. Vernon Whaley for the opportunity to have input into the growth of your worship of our Lord!

Many of you came here ready to order the book.  I have quite a few email requests in hand from you as well.  Thank you so much.

However, we just got the word this last week, so we are a bit “behind the 8-ball” at this moment, and I’m well aware that you also have assignments to do relative to the course.

I’ve been out-of-town since last Thursday and am in the midst of completing our set-up so that you can order and pay for the book here via credit or debit card through PayPal.  My plan is for it to be operational in the next 24 hours, so please check back then.  If you’ve emailed, I will be sending you a note as soon as everything is live.

If you have other questions, please post them–we’re working to get this for you ASAP!

John Stott has died…

John Stott, an icon of passionate, clear-thinking evangelical faith, died today at age 90 in London.  I read his book, Basic Christianity, as a young believer, and it had a powerful impact–one that I passed on by recommending it to all new believers.  He had a passion and commitment to evangelism, and to linking the church worldwide for that task.  He was a significant force in shaping evangelicals in Britain and around the world to address issues in modern society, yet lived humbly and simply himself. He wrote other books like Your Mind Matters, The Cross of Christ, and The Contemporary Christian–for a total of fifty volumes.

I was honored when Wings of Light got to do a concert at All Souls, Langham Place in central London (where he was rector, then rector emeritus) after a Sunday night service where he preached back in 1980!  He has left an incredible legacy through both his life and writing. Praise God for his faithfulness!!

Check out the article for background, and then check out this memorial video his ministry posted on YouTube today:

John Stott Has Died | Christianity Today

What have you read of John Stott’s writings?  You may want to find Basic Christianity and start!

Gungor and NWLC 2011

One of the highlights of this (or any…) conference for me was Gungor’s worship set last Wednesday night. (And that’s a lot of conferences in a lot of places over a significant period of time!)  I don’t think anyone else who was there would contradict me.

The combination of eclectic instrumentation (including mandolin, cello, banjo and harmonium) with the standard rhythm section, strongly creative Biblically-based songs, musical excellence and astounding visual support drew this critical thinker in, touched me and left me amazed at God’s goodness and grace. (A big shout-out to Stephen Proctor for some of the most sensitive visual support to worship I’ve ever seen.)

I pray they make the video available; I’ve already put in my request.  Look for it, and lobby Worship Leader magazine and WorshipTogether, and maybe they’ll release it in some form.  However, the capper was just Michael Gungor and his guitar at the very end. I found a link to it, and have it for you here as an appetizer…

Enjoy and worship the creative God that places these gifts in us!

How do you use visual support in worship?  How can you keep it supportive and not intrusive and distracting?

NWLC 2011 and more…

I’ve just gotten home from a great time at the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas City.  I’m having that “good kind” of exhausted today.

We saw 300 (more like 350) attend a special presentation of LOVE DIVINE: The Songs of Charles Wesley for Today on Tuesday with Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, Chris McClarney, Katie Gustafson and John Hartley that I emcee’d, with great response for these new settings of powerful lyrics.  Marvelous to see folks worshipping from the heart with lyrics from the 18th Century and music from the 21st!  You can get a feel for the project with a free song and chart download that also has more information.

A special welcome and thanks to those who have purchased my new resource book, “magnify!–105 modern worship devotionals for lead worshippers and their teams”!  I’m glad to be able to partner with and be a resource to you.  [More on “magnify!” later…]

And, thanks to others who attended my seminar: “Planning to worship?  Help people engage by asking the right questions!”  I was blessed by your attendance and interaction, and hope that the insights will be a help–even though I know most of you came here for the worship music complaint letters.  (Those are in Worship fan mail!)  Full notes for my seminar are downloadable here, or you can revisit or share that material with the two-part webinar that I’ve done for Worship Leader Magazine.

In the next several days, I plan on making this more active, so as you have questions and comments, please post them.  With your involvement this will be a much more active community as we look at worship, music, missions, technology and more.

What other things at NWLC had an impact on you? Comment below…

Talk about a smörgåsbord!

In preparing for the second part of my webinar on worship planning for Worship Leader magazine today, it struck me at how gracious God has been in allowing me to experience an incredible variety of worship expressions in the Body of Christ. Not just in years of church concerts all across the US and about 50 countries, but in actually serving local congregations as a worship leader, choir director, organist, soloist, worship team member, minister of music or worship service planner.

It’s easy to take for granted the “big picture” this has given me, and an appreciation for a varied number of traditions.  I forget that not everyone has this in their background!

It has been wonderful getting to experience the wide variety of services I’ve attended and planned outside the local church, but even more humbling to realize that I’ve been able to serve these local churches over the course of my life and ministry.

Here’s the list…thanks to all the congregations and pastoral leadership who allowed me to grow and serve in each fellowship! (You’ll see how varied they really are! ;-> )

  • St Patrick’s of Heatherdowns, Toledo, OH  (Roman Catholic)
  • Detroit Avenue Wesleyan Church, Toledo, OH  (Wesleyan)
  • Bethany Baptist Church, Thousand Oaks, CA  (Baptist General Conference)
  • New Hope Community, Canoga Park, CA  (Reformed Church in America)
  • Nyeland Community Church, Oxnard, CA  (Independent Fundamental Churches of America)
  • Calvary Community Church, Westlake Village, CA  (Missionary Church)
  • St Chad’s, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, UK  (Church of England)
  • New Song Christian Fellowship, Brentwood, TN   (Foursquare)
  • Belle Meade United Methodist, Belle Meade, TN  (United Methodist)
  • Belmont Church, Nashville, TN  (Independent charismatic evangelical; Church of Christ roots)

Where have you served on your worship/music ministry journey? How has that shaped or influenced your perspective on worship?  Post a comment and let us know…

Worship fan mail…

I’ve been putting off doing this blog thing for years, but I really must dive in. I’m excited about doing my first webinar for Worship Leader magazine today, and need to get a link posted for one of my references. I’m going to finally give it a try.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last 10 years working on resources for worship planning: Scriptural references, assigning topics to songs, writing suggested spoken intros for the songs, devotionals on contemporary worship songs, creating hundreds of sample worship sets for leaders to consider, and selecting songs to be used in collections, downloadable sites, and put in current hymnals.

As a worship leader and teacher myself, I want that planning process to be easier and easier.  There are so many great resources out there, so many songs that could be used, but it is very tough to keep track of them.

“Of the making of worship songs, there is no end.”  Ecclesiasticals 3:12 (Heumann version)

And even when you select them, everyone has a strong opinion on them (whether they’re entitled to it, or not!). I’ve discovered, though, that as Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Maybe you can relate to these notes…

A newsletter prepared by the Lutheran Hymnal Project of The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has noted that the following item was recently included in the Texas District supplement to the Lutheran Witness:

“Please! NO more new hymns. What’s wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it’s to worship God, not be distracted with learning a new hymn. Last Sunday’s was particularly unnerving. While the text was good, the tune was quite unsingable and the harmonies were quite discordant.” (This letter was written in 1890, and the hymn that elicited the complaint was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”)

“Was it the organist’s idea or yours that our peaceful worship service was shattered by that new hymn last Sunday? The music was sacrilegious; something one would expect to hear in a den of iniquity, not a church! Don’t expect me even to attempt to sing it next time!” (I Love To Tell The Story – written in 1874)

“Pastor, I am not a music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday’s new hymn, if you call it that, sounded like a sentimental love ballad one might expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you persist in exposing us to rubbish like this in God’s house, don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.” (Just As I Am – letter dated 1865)

The Stanza, Vol. 27,No. 2, Fall 2003

We are not alone!

(PS: this quote has been attributed to Nicky Gumbel of the Alpha Course, who quoted it in a sermon, but I was able to trace the source to “The Stanza,” but have not found the publication on-line, just a quote from it.)

Hello blog world!

Welcome to “The Heumann side”. This is my first post and my first attempt at cataloging some of my thoughts on “life, the universe and everything” as it relates to my passions and interests. Hopefully you will find something useful, stimulating and or interesting here! I’d love to see it become a connecting point for my various spheres of involvement–friends meeting friends.

Please be patient as I learn what to say, what not to say, what’s appropriate, what’s oversharing, et cetera!