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Essentials Blue Final Project (song)

February 11, 2009

[Skip to the bottom of the post for the recording…]

So, after five intense weeks of worship theology, we’ve all been asked to post a creative project, a response to our learnings that could possibly be of use to our spiritual communities.  Well, you can take the worshiper out of the Anglican  church, but you can’t take the Anglican out of the worshiper.   I’ve chosen to rework a quasi-classic hymn, originally titled “Rise Up, O Men of God”.  The text was written in 1911 by William Merrill, a Presbyterian minister who would undoubtedly hate what I’ve done.  I follow in a long line of hymnal revisionists who have toyed with the lyrics to change the text from an exhortation towards men (actual males, not mankind) to a more broad congregational spectrum.  My own spiritual upbringing was in a church that sang “Rise Up, Ye Saints of God” each year on the first Sunday in November (All Saints’ Day).

Below are my lyrics.  The first verse is [roughly] Merrill’s original, and I kept the last line of the second verse intact, but everything else was written by me (I think).

Rise up, ye saints of God; be done with lesser things
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
to serve the King of Kings

Rise up, ye saints of God; Earth’s suffering doth prolong
all join in bringing Kingdom power
to end the night of wrong

Rise up, ye saints of God; as Jesus on the cross
He died to cover all our sins
and make a way for us

Rise up, ye saints of God; as Jesus rose to save
triumphant over pain and death
King Jesus, o’er the grave

We’re alive, we’re alive
in King Jesus, we’re alive
rising up, rising up to view the breaking dawn
we’re alive, we’re alive
in King Jesus, we’re alive
rising up, rising up with all our souls to you

The call is to all people to awaken to and join in God’s work of resurrection.  It is not just future resurrection, but present.  God’s kingdom is not separate, but coterminous with ours and getting closer.  This hymn specifically calls us to consider Jesus as we go about this awakening.  We look to him as the example, the one who gave his life for the kingdom being lifted on a cross and was then risen from the dead as we and God’s creation will be.  We also look to Jesus as the executor of this coming kingdom; more than just an example, his death and resurrection actually triggered this intersection of worlds, cancelling human sin and defeating the power of death.  Boo-yah!!!

Finally, upon contemplating Jesus’ importance, we celebrate the life he has won for us and we proclaim him Lord, our king.  Just as early Christians said, “Jesus, not Caesar is Lord”, we say Jesus is deserving of our full allegiance.  He has given life and we follow him, ushering in the new creation.

Here is a recording. I wish I had more time to polish it, but this week is crazy at work and I won’t get to it for another week if I don’t post it tonight.

This is the chord chart

Please leave feedback of any kind.

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

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7 comments

  1. kudos for being the first to post your project!

    love the song, the words are great, you did a great job with it.

    i like what you were saying about the being alive part, that same idea is actually a big part of my song as well…thanks for sharing!


  2. Great job on the song! And it sounds amazingly polished for the amount of time we had to put into it. I grew up in the Christian Reformed demonination, and I know a lot of hymns, they too have stuck with me through the years. Cheers!
    Kristi


  3. Hi John,

    Wow, I’m impressed! Such amazing and inspiring words which are as relevent now as they were when originally written. Great work!

    Jen


  4. Great lyrics John! My wife and I both thought your song was awesome – we laughed when we read what you said about Merrill not liking it, but we definitely did! It’s such a nice mix of ancient and modern – well done!!


  5. We are alive indeed! Thanks for sharing your song.

    It’s definitely a challenge to post a song for everyone to hear when you feel like you want to put more time into it – polishing it and such. I suffer from that no matter how much time I spend on a song.

    I thought you did a great job.

    To the soon and coming King!


  6. Very nice and contemporary! You also have a very unique and original sound to your voice. You should be very proud of it. It sounds great for God’s “story” telling.


  7. I love the refrain “We’re alive.” I come from a hymn background also(way back)and still love the tradition that comes with hymns.



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