This popular song by Michael W. Smith has been in modern music repertoire since 1990, and it still remains powerful today. Whether you are familiar with it from Smith’s recordings, bands like Third Day, or the worship band at your church, there is something eschatological about singing “Worthy is the Lamb” together as a gathered body. This song can be accompanied by any instrument or ensemble, but the triplets can be tricky for inexperienced keyboardists. It is best to have vocalists to sing the triplets while allowing a keyboard instrument to play straight quarter notes and the guitar to strum in straight eighth notes. For maximum effect, begin with a soft “Alleluia,” and work toward a climax at the chorus. The ideal key is A.
Come Let Us Worship
With its simplicity and concise structure, “Come Let Us Worship” gives the opportunity for the church to offer praise to God in a lyrical way. If you are using a recording as a guide, however, I believe Chris Tomlin’s own setting is a little too slow for congregational singing, which is evident in the number of breaths it takes him to sing a phrase. I recommend singing at 76 beats per minute. Also, the way to avoid the overabundance of masculine language is to sing the Chorus 2, which uses “you” language in an effective way. As with many songs in this genre, if accompanied by a keyboard instrument, don’t allow the accompaniment to become overly complex by playing each note of the melody. When pianists play too much, the tempo gets bogged down, and the rhythm is too choppy. Simpler is better. The ideal key is G.
Ye Servants of God
Charles Wesley has conjured the image of Revelation 7: 9-12 with this hymn of praise to Jesus Christ, the bringer of salvation. Jesus is identified as “the Lamb,” which is the same name he is given by John in this week’s Scripture passage. Therefore, singing this hymn is an effective way for the congregation to become a crowd who lives in the midst of the scriptural narrative. Even though the organ or piano is the standard accompaniment for this tune (HANOVER), I always favor adding a little bit of musicality to its singing by placing emphasis on beat 1 of each measure and giving it a bit of a lilt. Save the dramatic pesante approach for the last stanza, which is the ultimate climax and an eternal outpouring of praise from Wesley:
Then let us adore
and give him his right,
All glory and power,
All wisdom and might;
All honor and blessing
With angels above,
And thanks never ceasing
And infinite love.
Fairest Lord Jesus
Though this hymn does not include the Revelation language of “Agnus Dei” or “Ye Servants of God,” it is a beautiful hymn on the Lordship of Jesus Christ from the heavenly hosts, who offer eternal praise (“Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forevermore be thine.”) in a setting known by many churches. The first three phrases are a beautiful representation of praise as they all ascend in a sequence that moves from Eb to G to Bb, forming a major triad--a musical source of strength and power. Because of its prominence among hymns and tunes, many choral and instrumental settings of this piece exist for all experience levels. This hymn is a great starter piece for choirs who are just beginning to sing a cappella. Sing it with boldness and confidence, but take time to soak in the beauty of both the text and the tune. View and download a melody-only setting of "Fairest Lord Jesus" »
We Would See Jesus
Our recommendation with the use of this resource this week is to continue the musical and hymnic thread begun last week by simply playing this instrumentally under the Prayer of Illumination. Again, the use of a folk ensemble (guitars, mandolin, fiddle, etc.) can go a long way in helping this become a heart song of the congregation. Read History of Hymns: "We Would See Jesus" »
Now Behold the Lamb
This short chorus can serve as a great liturgical piece, which this week is as a setting for the Scripture reading. John identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” so the song itself ushers us into the story as those who behold the Lamb. The choral parts are simple and are written in typical three-part gospel harmony. Accompaniment can be as simple as a keyboard instrument or as complex as a full band with a vocal ensemble. As we discovered in the CCLI Top 100 project, however, numerous modern songs contain errors in references to “the Lamb” in Revelation. “Now Behold the Lamb” contains the same error when it uses the language, “Holy is the Lamb.” According to Scripture, this should be, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Make note of this as you sing, knowing that there is no reason why the Lamb would not be holy, but making the distinction that it is not the language used in Scripture.
Come and See
An alternative to “Now Behold the Lamb” is this simple song by the powerhouse writing team of Chris Tomlin, Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, and Matt Redman. The chorus can be used as an invitation and framework for the Scripture reading, which includes the same call Jesus gave his first disciples in the Gospel of John: “Come and see.” Only using the chorus gives the opportunity for this to become a living, breathing part of the liturgy as it weaves in and out of the Scripture reading. Continue the instrumental accompaniment softly while the Scripture is read. Allow a solo guitarist to strum or a keyboardist to play underneath the melody, or use a full band. The ideal key for this chorus is G.
There Is a Redeemer
Whether singing this song in its entirety or using the chorus only, “There Is a Redeemer” can be used as an effective act of thanksgiving. It is not a formal doxology because it only offers praise to God the Father, but it does so on behalf of the work of the Son and the Spirit. Written in a chorale style, this would also be a wonderful pick for a choir to sing a cappella. It is easily accompanied by a keyboard and serves as an intimate expression of thanks, both personal and corporate. When singing this song in D, you could even create a medley by singing one stanza of it and then moving into the “Agnus Dei” (if not chosen at the beginning of the service) in the key of A. However you choose to sing it, this song is sure to be loved by most congregations once they learn it. Take the time to teach it to them!
Other Suggested Hymns for The Great Invitation, Week 2:
“Stay with Us” TFWS 2199
“Like a Child” TFWS 2092
“Jesús Es Mi Rey Soberano” UMH 180
“Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” UMH 340
“Come and See” TFWS 2127
“Somebody’s Knockin’ at Your Door” W&S 3095