Worship is a way of life that takes place not just at 11:00 on Sunday morning, but every other hour of the week (John 4:20-24). Through this “Call to Worship,” we want to share some thoughts about worship, scripture verses, hymns, and songs to teach and encourage you as you seek His face daily and then hopefully together with us on Sunday!
Maria Currey, Assistant Director of Music – Traditional
Hymn Highlight – “And Can It Be?”
Hymn by Charles Wesley
The hymn that we know as “And Can It Be?” was written by the prolific hymn composer Charles Wesley. There are varying accounts to the number of songs attributed to him, but it appears to be well over 5000.
Charles and his brother John were both ordained ministers and founded a holy group called “The Methodists” because of their methods of rising early and following strict Bible study. Yet they were both caught in the trap of legalism. A mission trip to the American colony of Georgia proved to be disastrous and Charles came home broken and ill. After his return, both he and his brother made the acquaintance of Moravian Peter Bohler, who urged Charles to look more deeply at the state of his soul and who taught them about true evangelical Christianity.
In May of 1738, once again ill, Charles read Martin Luther’s book on Galatians and was convicted. He wrote, “At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.”
He also journaled, “I now found myself at peace with God and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.” Two days later he began writing a hymn that many believe to be “And Can It Be?” The words of verse three bear this theory out.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;,
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! In this glorious Easter season, we thank God for free hearts, made so by Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection, and His saving grace!
Written by Liz Tolsma, Edited and Adapted by Maria Currey
Kerri Roberts, Assistant Director of Music – Contemporary
Our focus song for this week’s Call to Worship is one of our favorites in the NEPC contemporary service. “Man of Sorrows,” is a song of worship that grips our hearts over and over. The following story behind the song, written by Hillsong’s worship leaders Matt Crocker and Brooke Ligertwood, gives us even more insight into this gospel narrative:
“Man of Sorrows” tells the gripping, epic story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, It is the Passion Story boldly declaring, “Now my debt is paid, it is paid in full, by the precious blood that my Jesus spilled… Now the curse of sin has no hold on me, who the Son sets free is free indeed…”
Matt and Brooke recollect the time when they presented the song to the band;
“one of those moments when time seemed to stop… Our team worshipped … Arms raised in surrender…”
“Man of Sorrows” is a brilliant combination of theological verses about our betrayed, suffering, humiliated, dying and resurrected Christ, who is glorified with praise in a vibrant chorus. The scriptural basis for it is Isaiah 53. Mathew Henry in his commentary writes “nowhere in the Old Testament is it so plainly and fully prophesied, that Christ ought to suffer, and then to enter into his glory.” The song takes us on this journey of remembering, reminding and declaring the wonderful truth of his redeeming love. It reminds us and tells us it is all about him, his grace come down. His suffering was because of us, for us and instead of us. We can be grateful, we can be exuberant!
Musically, this song is arranged in a straightforward, rhythmic form with guitar overlays that make it “hymn-like”, if that can be a style. It is very easy to sing; the melody is really lovely and flows easily without diminishing the significance of the words.
The lyrics borrow from reference to Philip Bliss’ “Hallelujah What a Savior” and tacitly to George Bennard’s “The Old Rugged Cross”. But more than direct quotes, “Man of Sorrows” uses a punctuated lingual style and phrases of the hymns (“to that tree”, “on Jesus laid”, “honour unto Thee”, “is free indeed”, “His own betrayed”) in doing so it endears us to it, both to those who love traditional hymn-style and to the newer…modern choruses. It provides us with familiarity of the ancient truths that have been sung about for centuries and will continue to be declared always. It grounds us with the truth, we have a sense it has been sung many times before and that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
“Oh, that rugged cross, my salvation
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Hallelujah! Praise and honour unto Thee.”
Taken from “Why Man of Sorrows?“
By Lorraine Attwood