As I write this update I listen to a not so new song – Saviour King. Mainly because I’m listening to the harmonies and parts being sung – this is just one of the ways I prepare when I am rostered on for worship at church. I also have tweaked the traditional bible verse to bracket the new song bit since technically what I am about to write about are not new songs…
Whilst so much has transpired over the last 2-3 weeks, I want this first post to focus and reflect on it via this lens that is singing to the Lord a new song. Returning to Melbourne last Saturday night, now almost a week ago, the next morning being at church I heard a song that I had not heard for quite a while. However, I heard and sung the song as if it were a new one – I connected to this song through its simplicity and core call to worship. After being away from my home church for a short fortnight, it was timely and appropriate that this particular song helped me connect back to the headship of God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
That song, was NOT Saviour King, which will be sung this weekend – the song is called O Praise The Name (Anastasis). During the week, I was so touched and impacted by the song that I decided to look it up and use it in worship at life group on Wednesday. It was partially released at Easter 2015 by Hillsong. I say “partially” because whilst you can watch it on YouTube (see above) and purchase it as an extended play on iTunes US store, it is not available for purchase in the home market of Australia! That in itself I find intriguing… why would Hillsong not make the song available here. Whether or not it has something to do with the fact that the Easter song release is a preview of the upcoming 2015 live worship album, I wish it were available here. As part of learning and researching the song, I read the Hillsong Collected Blog article on the song, which helped to explain the meaning behind the “Anastasis” part of the song title. Anastasia is Greek for resurrection!
The song was originally tied to the seasonality of Easter given the way the opening lyrics challenge us to “cast our mind to calvary”. Even if the song has an explicit relationship to Easter, I found it quite timely that it was sung the week prior to Pentecost.
The first verse describes the nature of Easter quite succinctly – Jesus our Saviour undergoing crucifixion on the cross. The key details spelt out draw attention to the fact that Jesus did indeed die and was wounded. In the second verse, the story description continues to the burial. The syncopation and rhythm help us to proclaim and sing out the lyrics quite easily. The one exception noticeable is “tears” and “tomb” for the second verse. Throughout all four verses, adherence to a strict rhyme pattern is not upheld. Each verse does have at least one pairing of rhyming words. In contrast, the chorus has a clear A-B-C-A rhyming sequence. Verse 3 focuses on the resurrection and proclaims death being defeated. The final fourth verse finally focuses us on the Second Coming of Jesus. In this way, the entire song is a journey through the core message of Easter. As expected in a worship song, the repetition of the chorus helps us to proclaim our praise of the name of Jesus as our Lord, our God. The song arrangement of V1-V2-CH-V3-CH-V4-CH-LL forms a good crescendo across the entire song, with the first chorus proclamation of praise kicking in after singing about the initial events of Easter. Singing the chorus after Verse 3 and the resurrection allows us the worshipper to ramp up and make the praise of the chorus even more effective. Finally, we sing with joy the promises of the final verse – that we look forward to His return – and end the song at a climatic rendition of choral praise.
I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me.
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet.
My Saviour on that cursed tree
His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God
And then on the third at break of dawn,
The Son of heaven rose again.
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King
He shall return in robes of white,
The blazing Son shall pierce the night.
And I will rise among the saints,
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face
Spending the entire week praising God through O Praise The Name is a great way to lead up to Pentecost. As part of life group this week, we focused on Pentecost and Acts 2. In particular, we discussed the events of the Early Church and Apostles. It was a timely opportunity then (and here now) to mention how in the US there is a current TV show that is helping to focus our attention on the same period of history – AD The Bible Continues. Unfortunately this series is not yet available for viewing in Australia, but nonetheless, all the material available via the YouTube channel and NBC website provides a detailed depiction of what the first century church/Jerusalem could have been like. Whilst the show is just one interpretation and dramatisation on the events of the first ten chapters of Acts, it still provides a good means of contextualising the lives and challenges faced by the early church, and helps us better appreciate what Luke recorded in Acts.