16th February 2014
JazzGospelCentral.com : What would you say as to how your Christian faith has impacted the music that you write and how you perform?
John: Heavily. I’ve done a lot of writing. I’ve done a lot of music for the church that I go to [Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rye, NY, where he serves as a deacon]. If you remember Songs, Stories and Spirituals, there’s a strings and voices version of “In the Bleak Midwinter.” I wrote that originally at my church. I’ve written a lot of music for the church like that, a ton of stuff that I’ll eventually make available because people at other churches will ask me can we do that arrangement you did of such and such. I’ve done a lot of re-harmonization of hymns, as well. And, I continue to do that because that music is important to me. I think that when you believe in the God of creation and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when you have that kind of faith, and you even scratch the surface of what an unspeakable and unfathomable creative force that is, that changes your music a lot.
4th February 2014
1 Corinthians 1:25
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Paul calls the divine ordaining and encompassing of the cross of Jesus Christ the foolishnessand weakness of God (1 Corinthians 1:25). He is being ironical, of course, for he knows Christ to be God’s wisdom and power (verse 24). He is insisting that the word of the cross appears as folly to those who have not understood it. He is making a positive theological point as well, namely, that the death of God’s Son on Calvary shows how completely God, in love to mankind, was willing to hide His glory and become vulnerable to shame and dishonour. Now God in love calls men to embrace and boast of this foolish-seeming, weak-looking, disreputable event of the Cross as the means of their salvation. It is a challenge to sinful pride of both mind and heart.
Similarly, God in love calls us to humble ourselves by bowing to Holy Scripture, which also has an appearance of foolishness and weakness when judged by some human standards, yet it is truly His Word and the means of our knowing Him as Saviour. God first humbled Himself for our salvation in the Incarnation and on the cross and now He humbles Himself for our knowledge of salvation by addressing us in and through the often humanly unimpressive words of the Bible.
The classical name for the quality of God in which whereby He lovingly identifies with what is beneath Him is condescension (patronizing), and the etymological (study of words) significance is “coming down to be with.” The condescension of God in becoming a baby Jew, in being executed on a Roman gibbet, and in proclaiming His goodness and His gospel to us via the down-to-earth, unliterary, often rustic words of the sixty-six canonical books, is one and the same and spells the same reality throughout: love to the uttermost.
Excerpts taken from ‘The J.I Packer Classic Collection:’ “Honouring the Written Word of God.”
1st February 2014
Taken from Stuart Townend’s website
In Christ Alone
In November 2000 I was at a worship conference in Eastbourne, and introduced through a mutual friend to Keith Getty, who I had heard was a terrific melody writer. We met up for a coffee, and he promised to send me a CD of song ideas.
I didn’t really think any more about it. Then a CD arrived in the post containing three song ideas played on a piano. I didn’t get past the first melody, because I was so taken with it – it was quite hymn-like, but with a beautiful celtic lilt – I immediately started writing down some lines on the life of Christ.
Often lyrics come in quite a haphazard way. You write loads of couplets, then re-write some, then gradually piece it together to give it continuity and shape. The process for “In Christ alone” was much more linear. Once I’d worked out the rhyming structure (it felt like the song had better shape if lines 1 and 3 rhymed as well as the more usual 2 and 4), I started working on the first verse, setting the scene with a fairly subjective exploration of what Christ means to the Christian. Then I as I worked through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, I was getting more and more excited and emotional, and verse 4 kind of spilled out as a declaration of the impact of these amazing events in our lives.
Within a couple of days I had the whole lyric, sent it to Keith, he suggested a couple of changes, and “In Christ alone” was finished.
I think maybe one of the reasons the song is so popular is that it can stir up our emotions (I still often cry like an old softie when I sing it) – but the emotion is not the central feature of the song. Because the lyrics stay fixed on the unchanging truths of our salvation, it not only provokes emotion, but engenders faith, strengthening our spirits, not just stirring our souls.