Original Memory Verse Application/Integration
The following was the original write-up that accompanied the memory verse application:
Grace so Glorious is the first worship song I will attempt to integrate and relate to the theme and content of the memory verse/passage of Romans 5. Maybe it is more of the fact that it has been a recurring song that I have recalled and used for my personal worship for the good part of a month. This was the one worship song that I kept going to during my overseas travel and thus it carries a special significance to me during a time of “testing” when I had every opportunity to focus on everything but God. Playing it at my aunt’s home in KL was a special highlight marked during the halfway point of the fortnight holiday. I could play the chorus non-stop on repeat and just worship God – worthy is the Lord to be crowned in glory, forever. You are indeed a Holy Lord!
Early in 2015 Pastor Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, had these lyrics that were theologically rich and centred on the centred on the concept of a glorious grace. Ephesians 1:4-6 states:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
This concept of glorious grace became the hook for the song. The song was developed musically by the Elevation Church worship team over the period of a year, where it took a more interesting shape evolving into a hymn structure with some theologically loaded verses and four stanzas and more classic language. When it came time to consider the chorus there was a strong desire to provide a time for people to breathe out and respond to everything that had been developed in the verses. The most appropriate response that the verses evoked, having had the revelation of God’s glorious grace, was considered to sing a chorus like the one which is sung in heaven day in and day out. The imagery that the Elevation worship team developed in the chorus was one of everlasting worship; this kind of worship takes place before the throne of God constantly – the action of Jesus being crowned in glory to glory, all of heaven declaring worthy and holy is the Lord.
The cross of Jesus Christ is a direct reference to the events of Easter and the death and resurrection that hallmarks God’s sacrificial love and grace. By bearing all our sins upon the cross, Jesus died for all of our sins and shame- for all time and for all people. In this way, the shadow of death, as the ultimate form of a shadow, was completely conquered by the Light of the World – Jesus. In this way, I decipher additional meaning from the first two stanzas of verse 1. Jesus, as the Light of the World, shone for all of us to see. The perfection of Christ in and through his redemptive sacrifice enables us to stand before the glorious grace that is God, restored fully to Him. Romans 6:23 reminds us succinctly that the “wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The significance and understanding of the veil within the temple and Holy of Holies is best explained by the biblical Old Testament source in Exodus 26:31-35:
You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, their hooks also being of gold, on four sockets of silver. You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies
The purpose of the veil was to hide and to bar everyone from entering the symbolic presence of God except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The only way the High Priest could stand alive on the other side of the veil was by sprinkling on the veil the blood of his substitute. The purpose of the veil was to keep people out of the Holy of Holies. It told sinful man that he could not approach God except by His prescribed means. It stood in the way to God’s presence. It was a closed door. The only person who could enter the Holy of Holies and remain alive was the High Priest with the blood of the substitute sacrifice, and even then, only on the Day of Atonement. In order for the High Priest to eneter, he could only enter with the blood. It was a constant reminder that sin separated the sinner from God.
The veil is symbolic of the life of Jesus here on earth, and the tearing of the veil was His death on the cross. The death of Christ opened a new and living way into the presence of God. At the same time, the purpose of the physical Temple in Jerusalem ended. Since Jesus had offered up to God the Father the perfect sacrifice for sin, it was no longer needed. Something happened in the Temple at the very moment when Christ died on the cross. Mark 15:37-38 tells us when He died, “Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” This is also mentiomed in Matthew 27:51. Luke further confirms in Luke 23:45, “The veil of the temple was torn in two”. The act was complete the moment Jesus died. The Veil was rent, telling out in symbolic way that the entrance into God was now open, and that it required nothing short of the death of Christ. The purpose of His incarnation is revealed. He did not come in the flesh to set an example, but to offer His body as a vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice for sin. The Veil was rent at the very hour of the evening sacrifice. At the very hour the Passover lambs were being slain the Veil was torn from top to bottom, and at that moment Jesus cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Only God could do that because the top of the veil was beyond man’s reach. A way was opened into the presence of God, who no longer occupied the Holy of Holies in the Temple, but heaven, itself.
Mercy donning the crown of thorns refers to part of the treatment of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, where they mocked and beat him:
- Matthew 27:29 “and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said”
- Mark 15:17 “They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together acrown of thorns and set it on him.”
- John 19:2 “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe”
- John 19:5 “When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
The sacrificial death of Jesus, in conquering death, was also the fulfilment of the law of the Old Testament. Matthew 5:17 quotes Jesus words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus’ offer of salvation gives us (humanity) freedom from the wages of sin being death. He is that grace so glorious.
The glory of our surrender to God is an interesting sub-topic that the lyrics evoke – Holly Furtick, wife of Pastor Steven even blogged about this particular topic. When we surrender to God and humble ourselves before Him, His loves surrounds us and enfolds us. The act of our surrender to Him is surrounded by the glory and grace of our Savior’s love. In this way, we have the blessed assurance from Him that we are indeed welcomed home into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.
Hebrews 2:7-9 is a great passage for aligning to the chorus lyrics:
You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet. In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 evokes imagery of triumphant praises without end: But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Isaiah 32:1 also provides a direct reference to the King of righteousness: See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.
- Revelation 1:7 provides the third stanza of verse 3 a biblical foundation: Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
- Acts 15:11 also explains the unworthiness of God’s grace which He nonetheless bestows on those who surrender and call Him Abba Father: “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
The wondrous day when we shall see the face of Jesus, the one who ransomed us is also backed up by Matthew 24:30: At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. When we do come face to face with Jesus, what else is there left to do but fall in worship at His feet? However the story and message from God does not end there – we all will rise to reign eternally in the presence of our God so glorious and full of grace.
Beneath the cross of Jesus Christ
No shadow remains for shame to hide
Redemption shone for all to see
Perfection bore our penalty with a grace so glorious
Immortal day the veil was torn
When mercy donned crown of thorns
As law gave way to liberty and freedom
For humanity with a grace so glorious
And oh the glory of the Savior’s love
Surrounding our surrender
To know forever we are welcomed home
Crowned in glory to glory
Worthy is the Lord
Of all the glory forever
Holy is the Lord
Triumphant praises without end
All hailing the King of righteousness
And ev’ry eye beholds the One our hearts
Were undeserving of with a grace so glorious
O wondrous day when I will see
The face of Him who ransomed me
I’ll fall in worship at His feet and rise
To reign eternally in a grace so glorious
O in a grace so glorious O
The standard arrangement as performed by Elevation Worship is:
- Verse 1
- Verse 2
- Verse 3
- Verse 4
The standard key is Db and a capo version is also available in the key of C. Based on a quick view of the Multitracks mix, the sound is a complete and balanced band mix. The drums and percussion have a two dedicated tracks whereas the fullness of sound is an amalgamation of the four separate electric guitar tracks. Overall, the piano part contributes a substantial part to the complete song, but does not dominate over any other instrument. The vocal tracks that complete the song of worship are divided into one alto supporting vocal track and two background vocals, which really add to the corporate feeling that the chorus lyrics really evoke where everyone is simply singing “Crowned in glory to glory…” Originally written by collaboratively by Pastor Steven Furtick with Israel Houghton and worship leader Chris Brown, the song is clearly a male vocally lead song. Indeed, my favourite version of this song is a male acoustic version which is led by Chris Brown: