Doxology: Reclaiming a post-offering hymn

This is my arrangement of the classic “doxology” or as it is better known: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” or “Old 100th”…or ‘the song they play after they take up the offering.’

It is number 95 in the United Methodist Hymnal (& public domain), but the “Old 100th” came from when the ‘hymnal’ used to only be filled with psalms set to music and this tune was from that 1551 arrangement attributed to Louis Bourgeois. The words for this text came from Thomas Ken (father of english hymn writing) and was written by him with the simple title (or instructions) “morning and evening hymn.”

This may sound strange, but I prefer to play it a safe distance away from the offering. When we do use it in worship (hardly ever near the offering, those in worship seem to grasp a different meaning of the tune and lyrics. The meaning of ‘Doxology‘ is actually from New Testament Greek for praise, honor, or glorify. We’ve settled with it being played at the time of the return of the offering to God (ushers bringing the plates back up to the front of the church altar/table) is because it has a good theological reason: we should give praise, honor, and glory to God in returning a portion of all that God has given us back to God’s kingdom and the work of the Lord. However, the a common result when we hear this song now is that we get an ever-so-strong sense that we should be standing, singing, and giving money.

All joking aside, this is a real example of tradition that needs to be RE-taught and RE-contextualized. I think that many people really do like this song (great history and excellent words and even theology) but it gets used in the church context only as ‘the song we sing after the offering.’ This is a short shrift for such a beautiful, powerful, and diverse song–it can be sung quietly as a prayerful evening hymn or loudly as an anthem at the 11 o’clock service.

This version uses a cut capo (simulates DADGAD by holding the strings in an Esus, which allows the guitar player to play ‘rhythm’ and ‘lead/melody’ at the same time).

Note the use of ‘God’ in lieu of ‘Him’ for greater inclusivity while retaining the Trinitarian and doctrinally important (Baptism/Eucharist rites & inter-denominational covenants/agreements) language of Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.

lyrics/chords:
E                                              A2  Bsus  E
Praise God From whom all Blessings Flow
E                                         A        B
Praise God all creatures here below
E             A      B       E
Praise God above ye heavenly host
E                       A             B           E
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
(Cre-a-tor)

A      E  A     E    A     E    A     B   (E)
Amen   Amen   Amen   Amen

(in G: G C D)

As It Is In Heaven by Matt Maher

a great setting of the Lord’s prayer by singer/songwriter Matt Maher

The lyrics of this song come from Psalm 40 (sing a new song) and Matthew 6 (the Lord’s prayer) as penned by Catholic singer/songwriter Matt Maher (http://mattmahermusic.com) in collaboration with Ed Cash (accomplished singer/songwriter/songcompleter in the christian music/worship realm).

In the process of writing and rewriting this song, Maher writes that he hopes that this song can be one that emphasizes the unity of the Christian faith as all traditions utilize some form of the Lord’s prayer as found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

It gives me hope for the future of church music (and the church) when worship leaders and musicians use ancient words with modern arrangements that have such a high degree of liturgical and practical significance–such as this song. This gives me hope–hope that the Church can move beyond the extremes of traditionalism (tradition for its own sake) and the misunderstanding/denial of traditions &  people who have come before us. I have hope that the Church can continue to express the Christian faith in ways that embrace the ancient, liturgical, & traditional elements of our past while engaging with the modern/post-modern/future elements of our current cultural climate and our contextual understanding of Christianity. Music and worship like what Matt Maher and Marty Reardon (see post below) are doing is giving deeper context and meaning to ancient liturgical words and practices that enable people to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and tradition. May others continue to do so.

Maher is also the author of the popular song “Your Grace is Enough.” One of my favorites from the album “Alive Again” is a deep, meaningful, & liturgical song: “Christ is Risen From the Dead”, which uses the Eastern Orthodox phrase from the Pascha (Easter) “Christ is risen from the dead/trampling over death by death.” It will likely show up here later this liturgical year.


Video/music: “I Will Go” (cover)

After having several (ongoing) conversations with many people who tend think that all modern christian music has bad theology, and is all fist-pumping, empty rhetoric (although some of it is)–I’ve decided to start posting up some music (some of my own acoustic versions) I’ve come across. I hope that these songs/hymns will be helpful to christians who are searching for songs and hymns that have deep meaning, good theology, and good musicality for various types of worship.

The first of these is “I Will Go” by Jon and Tim Neufield–two brothers in a Canadian band called Starfield. This song addresses the need for christians to understand and heed God’s call to minister with the poor, the oppressed, and the broken–“the ones the world has cast aside.” My favorite lines (perhaps one I most identify with) come in the second verse: “Let me not be blind with privilege/ give me eyes to see the pain/ Let the blessing you’ve poured out on me/ not be spent on me in vain/ let this life be used for change.”

This is an answer to the ever-present question of “what do you do with privilege?” In recognizing and using one’s privilege to help those who have none is what God calls us to do. God calls us to go and join the effort that God is already making in places of need and hurt. As Starfield articulates on their website:

“We are so privileged, yet we’re so dissatisfied with our lives no matter how well we’re doing”, lead singer Tim Neufeld says. “There’s always this underlying pressure to be doing better, when the exact opposite should be the case. The pressure and call on our lives should be to live with less and give away more.”

May we live our lives in ways that allow others to fully live.

I will go – Chord Chart