“Sleepers, Wake! A Voice Astounds Us! ”

Exodus 15:1-2

Ephesians 5:19-20

Elder Conley Hall

July 10, 2016

 

SONG OF MOSES AND MIRIAM

ONE OF THE FIRST SONGS IN OUR RECORDED FAITH HISTORY…

THEN MOSES AND THE ISRAELITES SANG THIS SONG TO THE LORD:  I WILL SING TO THE LORD FOR HE IS HIGHLY EXALTED.  THE HORSE AND ITS RIDER HE HAS HURLED INTO THE SEA.  THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY SONG ;  HE HAS BECOME MY SALVATION.  HE IS MY GOD AND I WILL PRAISE HIM,    MY FATHER’S GOD, AND I WILL EXALT HIM.”

NEW TESTAMENT READING :  PAUL’S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS 5: 19-20

SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER WITH PSALMS, HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS. SING AND MAKE MUSIC

IN YOUR HEART TO THE LORD, ALWAYS GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER FOR EVERYTHING,

IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.”

THE WORD OF THE LORD – THANKS BE TO GOD.

 

 JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW…

JESUS LOVES ME THIS  I KNOW, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO….

FAMILIAR TUNE, FAMILIAR WORDS TO ALL OF US. EVEN FROM OUR EARLIEST CHURCH MUSIC MEMORY

WHEN WE SING THE SONGS OF OUR FAITH, OR WHEN WE PLAY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AS PART OF OUR CORPORATE WORSHIP, WE NOT ONLY HONOR AND LIFT UP THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY  SPIRIT, BUT WE CREATE AN UNEXPLAINABLE AFFIRMATION OF OUR FAITH, OUR RELIGION AND OUR LIVES WITHIN THAT FAITH.

 

 JOYFUL, JOYFUL WE ADORE THEE

MUCH OF THE FINEST, MOST BEAUTIFUL AND MOVING MUSIC OF OUR SHARED FAITH AND CULTURE FOR MORE THAN 500 YEARS HAS BEEN MUSIC INSPIRED BY OUR FAITH, WHETHER IT BE THE CLASSICAL SACRED MUSIC OF BACH, MOZART, BEETHOVEN AND MENDELSOHN OR THE POPULAR CHRISTIAN MUSIC OF THE 21ST CENTURY,

 

THE POWER OF THE CROSS                           (Day One Music)

AS CHRISTIANS AND PRESBYTERIANS, WE HAVE USED THAT MUSIC AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF OUR FAITH  AND WORSHIP EXPERIENCE. MUSIC ISOLATES DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF OUR FAITH, TOUCHES US SPIRITUALLY, IMPACTS OUR WORSHIP  AND GIVES US  A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S PLAN.

 

COME SING, O CHURCH IN JOY

SO I ASK YOU TO CONTINUE THAT FAITH TREK WITH ME TODAY AS WE EXPLORE THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF MUSIC IN WORSHIP, HOW  THAT IS MANIFESTED IN THE MUSIC IN OUR WORSHIP HERE AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN – FORT SMITH, AND THEN I HOPE YOU WILL INDULGE ME AS I SHARE   HOW MUSIC HAS SHAPED MY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES.

 

OUR GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST  

MUSIC IN WORSHIP HAS MANY PURPOSES.  FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WRITTEN HISTORY OF OUR ANCESTRAL FAITH, SINGING  TO THE LORD WAS OUR WAY OF OFFERING PRAISE, THANKS, OUR COMMITMENT TO GOD, OUR RECOGNITION OF OUR LORD.  IT IS A WAY TO SAY “I BELIEVE” IN A WAY THAT NOT ONLY GOD CAN HEAR, BUT OUR FELLOW MAN CAN HEAR, AS WELL.  PEOPLE WILL KNOW IN WHOM WE BELIEVE, WHY WE BELIEVE, AND HOW BLESSED WE ARE BY THE GIFTS OF OUR GOD BECAUSE WE BELIEVE.

 

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD

SINGING WORSHIP MUSIC IS CORPORATE, SOMETHING WE CAN DO TOGETHER AS A FAMILY, A    GROUP,  A CONGREGATION, A CHURCH. IT IS PERSONAL, SOMETHING     WE CAN DO ON OUR OWN TO SHOW OUR FAITH I  OUR GOD.  WHETHER IT IS WHISTLING A FAVORITE HYMN TUNE WHILE DRIVING OR BELTING OUT A FAVORITE HYMN IN WORSHIP, SINGING “KUM BY YA” AT FERNCLIFF OR AS A CHOIR MEMBER SINGING A CONTATA IN 8-PART HARMONY, THAT MUSIC HAS POWER!

 

SPIRIT OF GOD, DESCEND

THE MESSAGE OF THE LYRICS COMBINED WITH THE BEAUTY OF THE MUSIC HAS THE POWER TO MOVE US COGNITIVELY, SPIRITUALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND OFTEN, TRANSFORMATIONALLY.

 

COME HOLY SPIRIT, HEAVENLY DOVE  

THE “SPIRIT” MOVES US OFTEN THROUGH MUSIC IN WORSHIP.  OUR “SOULS ARE INSPIRED” AND THE HOLY SPIRIT “DWELLS AMONG US” OFTEN IN CONJUNCTION WITH SONG.  THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE THAT MUSIC IN WORSHIP AFFORDS US HAS THE POWER TO AFFECT US, MAKING OUR PERSONAL ACTION IN FAITH MORE PURPOSEFUL, MORE FOCUSED, AND DIRECTED TOWARD A HIGHER GOAL.

 

 BLESS BE THE TIE THAT BINDS  

AS WITH MANY CHURCH CONGREGATIONS, WE HERE AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN HAVE CONSISTENTLY BEEN EMPOWERED IN OUR WORSHIP AND FAITH WITH AN AWESOME MUSIC MINISTRY. SCORES OF BROAD A SCOPE OF ECUMENICAL AND CHRISTIAN MUSIC AS YOU WILL FIND ANYWHERE.  WITNESS THE FACTS: WE HAVE THE MOST VERSATILE PIPE ORGAN IN THIS REGION OF THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE A HISTORY OF=PARTICIPATION BY SOME OF THE MOST TALENTED AND EARNEST MUSICIANS AND VOCALISTS IN THE REGION, EXTENDING NATIONALLY AND GLOBALLY.  WE CONTINUE WITH THE  BLESSING OF AN UNWAVERING COMMITMENT BY THIS CHURCH ITSELF TO PROVIDE THE CONGREGATION AND THE COMMUNITY WITH SUPPORT FOR ITS MISSION INMUSIC APPLICATION AND APPRECIATION.  OUR WORSHIP SERVICES EFFECTIVELY MELD THE MUSIC WITH THE MESSAGE. PARTICIPANTS IN THE MUSIC MINISTRY ARE CONSISTENTLY DEDICATED TO THEIR CHURCH AND COMMUNITY  MINISTRY.

 

PRAISE MY SOUL

THINK OF ALL THE VARIETY OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS THAT HAVE BLESSED OUR SANCTUARY, FROM    HARPSICORDS AND HARPS TO STRING INSTRUMENTS, DULCIMERS, PERCUSSION OF EVERY KIND, SEVERAL TYPES OF HAND BELLS, TO BRASS AS IN OUR WORSHIP LAST SUNDAY, PIANOS AND PIANISTS, OUR WICKS ORGAN AND A HOST OF TALENTED KEYBOARD ARTISTS, WOODWINDS OF EVERY TYPE AND SIZE, AND VOCAL ARTISTS FROM EVERY MUSIC GENRE.  WE HEAR EVERY STYLE OF MUSIC PLAYED FROM CLASSICAL, SACRED, GOSPEL, SPIRITUALS, PATRIOTIC HYMNS TO CONTEMPORARY BALLADS    AND BLUE GRASS TO OPERA AND CHILDREN’S SONGS.  THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF MUSICAL EXPERIENCES THAT OUR CHURCH OFFERS, BOTH DURING AND OUTSIDE OF  WORSHIP ARE TO BE EXPERIENCED AND APPRECIATED.  THEY ARE TO BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF ESPECIALLY DURING WORSHIP, AS PART OF OUR WORSHIP HERITAGE AND AS PART OF OUR WORSHIP AND FAITH JOURNEY AS WE SING PRAISES TO OUR LORD.

 

COME THOU FOUNT

NOW, I NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND WHY I CHOSE THIS TOPIC FOR MY “TESTIVOTIONAL” TODAY.  IT IS SIMPLY THAT, PERHAPS LIKE MANY OF YOU, MY SPIRITUAL GROWTH HAS BEEN STRONGLY LINKED TO MY CONNECTION WITH MUSIC AND CHURCH. TO START WITH, MY MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS, BARNEY AND LOLA BOOHER, USED TO SING DUETS IN THEIR SMALL RURAL CHURCH IN BURKESVILLE, KENTUCKY.  I HAVE VIVID MEMORIES OF MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, ARVILLA HALL,   WHISTLING     HYMNS AS SHE DID HER HOUSEWORK, AND I RECALL SOMEHOW EXHIBITING THE SAME HABIT AS AN ADULT WHEN I DID MY CHORES.  MY PARENTS MET BECAUSE OF CHURCH MUSIC.  DAD WAS SINGING     IN THE CHOIR AT HIS  FAMILY’S CHURCH, FIRST CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE IN PLACENTIA, CALIFORNIA, ONE SUNDAY NIGHT WHEN MY MOTHER WAS VISITING THERE WITH A GIRLFRIEND OF HERS THAT WAS A MEMBER.  IT WAS 1939.  WHEN I WAS NINE YEARS OLD, WE JOINED FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA.  I WAS ASKED TO JOIN THE BOYS CHOIR AND LATER THE HAND BELLCHOIR.  I WAS  MESMERIZED BY THE PIPE ORGAN AND ITS MUSIC, EVEN AS A YOUNG BOY. WHEN I WAS A JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL, I BEGAN SINGING IN OUR CHURCH CHOIR AT FIRST PRES.  BATESVILLE, AR.  IN COLLEGE, I SANG IN OUR CHOIR AT FIRST PRES. IN JACKSONVILLE.

 

THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION

WHEN I MOVED TO FORT SMITH AND STARTED TEACHING AT RAMSEY, I DECIDED TO FIND A NEW CHURCH HOME.  THE FIRST CHURCH I VISITED WAS, OF COURSE, FIRST PRESBYTERIAN.  ON THAT DAY, THE CHOIR SANG AN ANTHEM  THAT I KNEW AND THE HAND BELL CHOIR PLAYED IN WORSHIP AS WELL.  I HAD NO NEED TO LOOK FURTHER AND I JOINED THIS CHURCH ON PALM SUNDAY, 1980. I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO SING AND PLAY BELLS UNDER MARY McDONALD’S LEADERSHIP. SHE WAS THE PERSON WHO SCHOOLED ME ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LINKING MUSIC TEXT TO SCRIPTURE AND SERMON TOPICS WITH THE GOAL OF COHESION AND EMPHASIS IN THE WORSHIP SERVICE.  I HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE TO SING AND PLAY UNDER AT LEAST A SCORE OF AMAZING MUSIC DIRECTORS AND ORGANISTS DURING MY 36 YEARS AT FIRST PRES. FORT SMITH.  AND I CAN PERSONALLY TESTIFY THAT STUDYING, PRACTICING, WORKING WITH AND SINGING AND PLAYING MUSIC HAS HAD THE STRONGEST IMPACT ON MY FAITH JOURNEY OVER THE YEARS.  LINKING THE LYRICS TO BIBLICAL TEXT IS ONE WAY.  THE EXPERIENCE OF SINGING AND PLAYING THE MUSIC IS MOVING FOR ME IN WAYS THAT I FIND HARD TO EXPLAIN.  THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE PART OF THE MUSIC FAMILIES IN OUR CHURCH HAS BEEN STABILIZING, REWARDING AND EDUCATIONAL.  I AM BLESSED AND I AM GLAD THAT I KNOW IT.

 

O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING   

SO, I THANK YOU FOR INDULGING MY PASSION THIS MORNING. I HOPE THAT BY SHARING SOME OF THIS WITH YOU TODAY THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO SEE A BIT OF YOURSELF, OR THAT YOU GAINED A WEE BIT OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT I BELIEVE THE PURPOSE AND POWER OF MUSIC CAN BE IN OUR WORSHIP AND IN OUR FAITH.

PRAISE THE LORD.      TO GOD BE THE GLORY