Before the gods I Sing Your Praise (Psalm 138)

Before the gods I sing Your praise,

O maker and giver of all of my days.

I bow down towards Your ho-ly place

exalt Your word and ho-ly name. 

—–

You hear us cry and strengthen souls.

We’ve heard your word and seen your glow.

For You, though high, regard the low.

The haughty, You tell them where to go.

—–

‘Mid troubled times we walk abroad.

Stretch out Your hand; protect us, God.

We’re trusting in your steadfast love.

You’ll never forsake what you have done. 

———-

Photo: The Feast of Peleus  from The Birmingham Museum Trust

Source:  Psalm 138

Text:  David Alexander, 2020  CC BY-NC SA 4,0

Tune: Beloit, Public Domain

Score:  https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/2014/Score/IThirstThouWounded-Beloit.pdf 

Audio:  www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

There was Smoke, but Nothing Broke

In the year Uzziah died, God was seen up high and wide. 

Angels flew, each on six wings, shouting holy, holy things. 

Hinges shook as seraphs spoke. There was smoke, but nothing broke. 

I was moved by all my sin, till an angel made me clean.

———-

God called out, and I got sent, to the people out I went, 

knowing that they would not hear, and I’d labor many years.

Dull of mind and blind to light, turning not to where they might

find the healing touch they need. Deep concealing holy seed.  

———-

Photo:  “Mount St. Helens Eruption 1980” by adam79 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0     

Source: Isaiah 6:1-13

Text:  David Alexander, 2022  CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Tune: Aberystwyth, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/Score_PDF/JesusLoverOfMySoul-Aberystwth.pdf 

Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission.

Before My Cells Were Formed

God said to me that I’d been known since long before my cells were formed.

A holy mission and a name were likewise built into my frame.

—–

I tried to wiggle out of it. I claimed by youth I was unfit.

God countered, “You will go to do and say whatever I tell you.”

—–

“Fear not, I’ve got your back, there’s none who can undo what I have done.”

God touched my mouth to put the words that I then spoke, and you have heard.

—–

Appointed over sovereign states, to set up or annihilate,

I’m not a happy prophet, though, wherever God might point, I’ll go. 

—–

Photo: “Makeup artist paints lips with lip pencil” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: Jeremiah 1:4-10

Text: David Alexander, 2022  CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Tune: Wendell, Public Domain 

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/Score_PDF-2010/ThouGraciousGod-Wendell.pdf 

Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

After the Manifesto

When he told them that the scripture they had heard had been fulfilled,

people nodded, praised the grace with which he spoke and then recalled

who his people were and where he’d come from, thinking they might get

some consideration like he had done elsewhere but not nearby yet.

—–

Hometown crowds are hard and often don’t accept the folks they know

who have gained a reputation somewhere else outside the city wall.

When a local one makes good and spreads the benefits abroad

he or she might well be seen as causing an offense to God.

—–

In a flash, opinion changed from friendly praise to angry rage.

Out of town and up a hill they drove him to where he became

once again the one in charge of what the crowd would see and say.

They intended his demise, but he passed through and walked away.   

———-

Photo: “Pine Cliffs, Praia do Inatel, Albufeira, Portugal – 2072” by HereIsTom is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Source: Luke 4:21-30

Text: David Alexander, 2022  CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Tune: Rustington, Public Domain

Score:  https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/Score_PDF/GodWePraiseYou-Rustington.pdf

Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

Love (Which Never Ends)

If my loveless talk may sound like angel speech, or human tongue,

it’s no better than the clang of cymbals or a noisy gong.

If I lovelessly profess to see ahead or understand,

faith avails me not at all. I’m like a building set on sand. 

—–

Nothing I can give of which I otherwise might think to boast

gains me any priv’lege if it’s handed over without love.

Love is seen in patience, kindness, humble speech and courtesy.

Love is absent where the skin is thin and what is wrong brings glee.

—–

Where there’s truth, true love rejoices, bears, believes, and hopes all things.

Unlike showy gifts and knowledge, love endures and ever sings.

What we’re knowing now is partial; like so much, “it all depends.” 

Trust eternally in faith and hope and love (which never ends).  

———-

Photo:  “stagg cymbals 2” by bigdrumthump.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source:  I Corinthians 13:1-14

Text:  David Alexander, 2022, CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Tune: Vision, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/2013/Score/HarkTheSound-Vision.pdf Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by permission

We’ll Continue Shouting. LOUD!

Our fortress and our refuge place, 

you shine just like a precious jewel.

When wicked people seek our lives, 

they reach and tear, they’re grasping cruel.

You’ve been our hope since once you took

us from the dark of mothers’ wombs.

We’ll trust and praise you past the day 

we rest inside the dark of tombs.

—–

Some who have seen us have been drawn 

to likewise put their trust in you.

So now that we have met with dread, 

they doubt your reputation, too. 

Forsake us not and haste to help, 

and scorn the ones who hope to shame.

Then we will tell of how you save, 

and praise your mighty deeds and name.

—–

The things you taught us in our youth, 

when old we still affirm and tell.

There’s none like you who reaches down, 

to rescue, save and make folks well.

So as before, you’ll do again, 

and we’ll continue shouting loud, 

the things you’ve done to help your own, 

by putting slanderers to rout.

———-

Photo:  Khashayar Kouchpeydeh on Unsplash

Source:  Psalm 71    

Text:  David Alexander, 2020, CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Tune: Tallis’ Lamentation, Public Domain

Score:  https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/2013/Score/OMasterItIsGood-TallisLamentation.pdf

Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

Bodies 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Bodies are made up of multiple parts: tendons and kidneys and neurons and hearts.

Christ abides ev-rywhere, ev-rything fills. Offers redemption and grants us new starts.

—–

People are people, no matter how small. One spirit shares and unites one and all. 

Ev-ry ethnicity, gender and place, drinks of one Spirit and answers one call.

—–

Think of your body, all pieces belong. Each has a use in a body that’s strong.

Nothing is frivolous, all are in need. Honor is given to those that are weak.  

—–

God has arranged the position of each. Care should be given to both great and least.

When one is suffering, all feel the pain. When one is praised there is plenty to gain.

—–

You are the body of Christ on the earth. Each has a gift, and each gift has a worth.

Prophets, apostles, and workers of might; healers and helpers and speakers of right.

—–

Gifts of the Spirit are given to each. Work in God’s Kingdom with what you’ve received. 

Strive for the greater ones sent from above. Never neglect that what’s greatest is love.

———- 

Image: “Bodies” by DogFromSPACE is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Text: David Alexander, 2022, CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Source: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Tune: Bonnie George Campbell, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/2012/Score/ChristBeMyLeader-BonnieGC.pdf 

Audio:www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

At the Water Gate Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

At the Water Gate where the law was read it was called the word of God. 

From the lofty place where the preacher stood, men and women all were taught.

—–

And the children who were of age to think with their parents all bent ears, 

While a preacher spoke, telling what was what, to dispel and strike some fears. 

—–

While the scroll unrolled and the page was found, people stood and hung around. 

With the blessing said, after an ”Amen,” they returned to looking down.

—– 

Other teachers spoke to the gathered folk, adding their spin to the text.

A command was made: they should celebrate (for a lot of them had wept.)

—–

“Go your way, eat fat, drink the wine that’s sweet. Celebrate God’s holy day.

Call the hungry in, give good food to them. Share with everyone. Be gay.

—–

All be disabused. You have heard good news. There is not a cause for grief..

At the Water Gate and again at home, let the Lord’s Joy be your strength

———-

Image:    “Watergate” by ep_jhu is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  

Text:  David Alexander, 2022  CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Source:  Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Tune: Love is a Life Giving Water, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/2015/Score/LoveIsALifeGivingWater-Thompson.pdf 

Audio:www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

The Nazareth Manifesto

With power filled when Jesus went back home the people heard. 

He taught in places all around; was praised by those who learned. 

In Nazareth, where he grew up, at worship time when he arose, 

he read a bit of scripture that an ancient prophet wrote.

—–

A one will come whose words shall bring: good news to all the poor; 

proclaiming ends of blindness; and unblocking prison doors; 

that freedom from oppression comes; a year of favor of the Lord. 

That’s where he stopped, but when he sat, the gospel message roared. 

———-

Image:“Prison Gate” by corrieb is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Text:  David Alexander, 2022  CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Source:  Luke 4:14-21

Tune:  Staff of Faith, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/Score_PDF/MyFaithItIsAnOakenStaff.pdf 

Audio:  www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission

Sandals

Bring forth fruit of true repentance, do not say among yourselves,

“We are kin to Abraham, so we’re in need of nothing else.”

You can’t flee the wrath that’s coming. You’re a bunch of snakes, no less.

God can make from stones around you kin of Abraham to bless.

—–

Judgment’s coming like an axe that cuts down trees right to their roots.

Bring forth fruit of true repentance or that axe will come for you.

If you have two coats, then share one. If you’ve food, then feed the poor.

Keep the law regarding taxes, and avoid the use of force.

—–

People’s hopes began to rise and they began to wonder if

John, perhaps, might be the One who came to free them from their sin.

But he pointed to the one whose sandals he dared not untie.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to baptize us with life.

———-

Image: “Sandals for Sale” by flyover is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Text:  David Alexander, 2009  CCO

Source:  Luke 3:8-17

Tune:  Deerhurst, Public Domain

Score: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/Score_PDF/GodHasSpoken-Deerhurst.pdf 

Audio: www.smallchurchmusic.com  Used by Permission