Attention WELS and ELS Churches Using Contemporary Music!
I would like to create a database of churches in our fellowship that are currently using contemporary music. As this list grows, we can use it to contact one another for help, for prayers, for resources, or just to have someone to talk to that share your beliefs.
I am calling this project “How Can We Keep from Singing Your Praise?” Because…
God has put a new song into our hearts!
We can respond to the Gospel with a new song!
We are kindred Spirits!
God blesses Unity!
We see the same truth!
We sing the same truth!
How can we keep from singing your praise?
Recently, a WELS worship leader in TX asked me who else was doing contemporary worship in the WELS besides me. I knew of only a handful of churches and none near TX. How pathetic is that? Hence the need for this list.
Please consider adding your name to the list and also feel free to pass the link to other WELS/ELS churches that you know are using contemporary music.
If you need a definition for using contemporary music and worship I would try this test out. Have you used the Getty and Townend song titled “In Christ Alone” and accompanied it with anything other than an organ (as in piano and guitar)? Have you heard of Chris Tomlin? Have you hosted the Branches Band at your church? If you’ve answered “yes” to all these questions, then go ahead, be bold and sign up. Oh you can just go ahead and sign if only one of these are true and you want to belong to this group because we are not exclusive!
You can add your contact information at the following link:
Did you hear the mountains tremble? Did you hear the oceans roar? No, I’m not talking about the popular song; I’m talking about the new WELS “Christian Worship Hymnal Supplement.” We had the introductory workshop at our church on 11/22 and it was so exciting, refreshing and invigorating to see excitement about new music. The new supplement has four songs by the contemporary songwriting team of Keith Getty and Stuart Townwend as well as several other contemporary pieces including “There is a Redeemer” and “What is this Bread?” For me, it was too good to be true and it was prayers answered to see two of our Pastors excited about some songwriters who are still alive and who write music that’s meant for piano/guitar/Praise band. And its not just these two guys, it’s spreading throughout the WELS. “In Christ Alone” is taking the WELS by storm. See what Pastor Johnold Strey is saying about it here:
There is a renewed energy in the air and the amazing thing is that this is only the beginning. There are other songwriters out there today that are being inspired by God to write Christ-centered, Biblical, God Exalting, Christ Glorifying, Edifying music for the church. Graham Kendrick, Twila Paris, Michael Card, Bob Kauflin, Steve Altrogge, Steve & Vicki Cook and Dan Schutte are a few; but there are many others.
If you are a WELS Pastor reading this BLOG you need to consider jumping on this train because it’s bound for glory and Christ’s kingdom will benefit.
Special thanks go to Pastors Paul Meier and Tom Mielke for a job well done and for sharing the excitment.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Col 3:16
A supplement to our Hymnal (Christian Worship) was introduced at the recent “National Conference on Worship, Music and the Arts” in July 2008. Included in the Hymnal Supplement will be several contemporary songs by the songwriting duo of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.
Keith Getty and Staurt Townend are modern day hymn writers living in Ireland. They are indeed on a mission—to revive the art of hymnody.
They have written many popular songs which we have used for worship at our church (Messiah Lutheran) including:
The Power of the Cross
How Deep the Father’s Love For Us
In Christ Alone
“In Christ Alone” is by far their most popular piece and was in fact played at the Synod’s Worship Conference by the Hand Bell Choir.
The anthemic hymn has been recorded more than 200 times. Getty has been quoted as saying: “A pastor in Belfast challenged me to bring to the contemporary church some of what the old hymns of the faith brought to congregations through the centuries,” he says. “I didn’t set out to create the modern hymn. I wanted to write songs that contemporary, traditional, and liturgical churches could all use.”
“The song came about in an unusual way,” Townend explains. “Keith and I met in the autumn of 2000 at a worship event, and we resolved to try to work together on some songs. A few weeks later Keith sent some melody ideas, and the first one on the CD was a magnificent, haunting melody that I loved, and immediately started writing down some lyrical ideas on what I felt should be a timeless theme commensurate with the melody. So the theme of the life, death, resurrection of Christ, and the implications of that for us just began to tumble out, and when we got together later on to fine tune it, we felt we had encapsulated what we wanted to say.”
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm…
Townend and Getty both admit they are motivated by the idea of capturing biblical truth in songs and hymns that will not only cause people to express their worship in church, but will build them up in their Christian lives.
“It seems like this song is timely,” Townend says. “We in the West have had our sense of safety and security brutally torn apart by recent world events, and it’s caused many to re-evaluate the foundations of their life. I feel that the song has helped to stir faith in many believers that God really is our protector; that our lives are in His unshakable hands.”
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled and striving cease
My Comforter, my All-in-All
Here in the love of Christ I stand…
Says Townend: “I had a strong very Irish melody that I could imagine a large crowd singing. I wanted it to become a hymn that would declare the whole life of Christ and what it meant. Something that could teach people the foundations of what we believed in Christ – the God who changed all of history and who wants a relationship with each us.”
The uniqueness of Townend’s writing lies partly in its lyrical content . There is both a theological depth and poetic expression that some say is rare in today’s worship writing. And not surprisingly, it’s an emphasis that Townend and Getty both maintained within the composition of this song in particular.
“I think content is vitally important to our corporate worship,” Townend shares. “Sometimes great melodies are let down by indifferent or clichéd words. It’s the writer’s job to dig deep into the meaning of Scripture and express in poetic and memorable ways the truth he or she finds there. Knowing the truth about God and who we are in Him is central to our lives as believers. Songs remain in the mind in a way sermons do not, so songwriters have an important role and a huge responsibility.”
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny…
As well as being a credal song, it fires people with hope – that here is the God who even death cannot hold – “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me”.
He continues, “The lyric [of this song] excites me because it places our hope, our assurance, our eternal destiny in the right place—on the solid foundation of Christ. I know in my own life I need reminding continually not to live by my feelings or my circumstances, but by the unchanging truth of the gospel.”
“In Christ Alone” was the very first collaboration between Townend and Getty. In fact, it was Townend’s first collaboration with any other songwriter. But it was an experience he found to be very fruitful and well worth the effort. So much so that the two have continued their musical partnership on other songs, and are currently working on a series of songs based around the Apostles’ Creed. They are hoping to have a recording available next year, and are excited about the possibility of making it into a live presentation.
You can find out more information on these modern-day hymn writers at their websites: