Jesus, Firm Foundation

By Pastor Matt Sikes

This week we will be meeting together once again to worship our great God. Like I wrote about in last week’s blog, we will be meeting together to feast and we will consider once again how to stir up one another to love and good works. As we prepare to do that this week I would like to discuss something that has become a bit of a renewed trend with worship music. It’s something that I believe is a very good thing. I am talking about the practice of taking familiar hymn texts and setting them to different hymn tunes.

To discuss this, we should first discuss the idea of having certain texts that are “married” to certain tunes. This is a fairly recent phenomena in the grand scheme of church hymn writing. Prior to the late 19th century, hymn texts were almost always written apart from hymn tunes. Hymn writers would write their hymns using poetic meter. These metered poems could then be set to many different hymn tunes, which fit the same metric pattern. Most churches during this time would have a number of different hymn tunes memorized and their hymn books would simply contain the words to many different hymns. The pastors and musicians would choose which hymn tunes to sing the selected hymns for worship to on any given worship service. 

While this may seem very odd to many of us who live in this modern information age, there were many good things about this model. One of the great things would be the possibility of being able to sing one hymn to different hymn tune settings. You could take an amazing hymn such as Amazing Grace or And Can It Be and experience the powerful words in different ways. It would be sort of like viewing a diamond from different angles. Depending on the way the melodies and harmonies were written you could experience emphasis and stress on different words and syllables. This would help the people of the church to experience these hymns in different ways and deepen their understanding of the great biblical truths contained within the text.

For a while now we have seen a movement of many musicians in the church music world taking older hymns and setting them to new hymn tunes. I think this is very good thing and it has the ability to help draw our hearts to greater understanding of the truths of who God is. It helps us to experience hymns that are rooted in the history of the church and connect us with the saints of the past in new ways. You may have noticed that we have sung some of these songs at Grace. This Sunday we will be introducing a new setting of a song that is based on the familiar hymn How Firm a Foundation. You may remember the choir singing this song last year.

This is a great hymn that reminds us of the amazing promises of God that are found in his Word. Promises that he will always be with us and will not forsake us. Promises that we can trust in his goodness and mercy to lead us through every trial that we face in this life. This particular version of the song has an added chorus that says, “How firm our foundation. How sure our salvation. And we will not be shaken. Jesus, Firm Foundation.” This chorus serves as a great reminder to us that when our hope is firmly placed in Christ, there is nothing that can shake us or cause us to be removed from his presence.

I hope that you will be encouraged by this new arrangement of a familiar hymn and be reminded that Jesus is our Firm Foundation this Sunday!

For this Sunday:

As always we would ask you to pray for the service and consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. You can view the order of worship HERE. You can also listen to our new version of How Firm a Foundation – newly titled, Jesus, Firm Foundation – below. The sermon text this Sunday will be Mark 7:1-13. We would encourage you to spend some time reading this passage and praying that we would be able to listen attentively as Pastor Mark proclaims this Word to us and that our lives would be transformed through it.

See you Sunday!