“Vagabonds” by Stuart Townend

I’ve really been enjoying this song by Stuart Townend from his new cd The Journey. If you click on the link, you can listen to samples of the songs and read a description of the cd.

I love the whirling,  jubilant music and the welcoming, gracious message.

Here’s a video of Stuart Townend explaining the story behind the song.

Click on this link and you can hear the song: Vagabonds

Come all you ‘don’t belongs’
Winners and losers,
Come, people like me.
Come all you travellers
Tired from the journey,
Come wait a while, stay a while,
Welcomed you’ll be.

Come all you questioners,
Looking for answers
And searching for reasons
And sense in it all;
Come all you fallen,
And come all you broken,
Find strength for your body
And food for your soul.

Come to the feast,
There is room at the table.
Come let us meet in this place
With the King of all kindness
Who welcomes us in
With the wonder of love,
And the power of grace,
The wonder of the love,
And the power of grace.

Come those who worry
‘Bout houses and money,
And all those who don’t have
A care in the world;
From every station
And orientation,
The helpless, the hopeless,
The young and the old.

Come all believers
And dreamers and schemers,
And come all you restless
Just searching for home;
Movers and shakers
And givers and takers,
The happy, the sad
And the lost and alone.

Come self-sufficient
With wearied ambition,
And come those who feel
At the end of the road.
Fiery debaters
And religion haters,
Accusers, abusers,
The hurt and ignored.

Stuart Townend, Mark Edwards & Phil Baggaley
Copyright © 2011 Thankyou Music

You are God Alone

Tonight a couple of friends and I met for our study of Ephesians chapter 1. I had prepared to teach verses 15-23, but we only made it through the first part of verse 18. We had a profitable and challenging discussion about several points from the verses 15-18, but we weren’t able to get to the high point of the passage, which comes at the end of the chapter.

15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of  him who fills all in all.

We’ve studied the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ, and this paragraph culminates the chapter in praise to God for these riches and exalts Christ as the ruler over all. In these verses, Paul heaps up descriptions of Christ’s power and authority. His power is immeasurably great. God raised Christ from the dead and then seated him in a place of power and prominence–at his right hand. Christ’s “rule and authority and power and dominion” are “far above all” other rulers. Christ’s name is above all other names. No matter how powerful a ruler is on earth, his authority doesn’t come close to Christ’s. We’ve seen some powerful rulers fall this year, but Christ will never lose power and authority; he will reign supreme “not only in this age but also in the one to come.” All people and all things–every speck of matter–are “under his feet,” under his control. Christ is the head of the church, and He abundantly supplies all our needs and completes the church–His people–so nothing  is lacking.

I had all of these thoughts in my head, when I heard this song on the way home from Bible study. I had to pull over to the side of the road, because I was crying and singing out in praise to God. What a beautiful expression of God’s power and authority! And how perfectly this song connected with what I have been studying and learning the past few days!

You are not a God
Created by human hands
You are not a God
Dependant on any mortal man
You are not a God
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

You’re the only God
Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God
Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that’s just the way it is


That’s what You are

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

Copyright 2004 Billy Foote Music

Easter Song: “We Have Been Healed”

“We Have Been Healed”

Verse 1

You bore our sins in Your body

As You were hung on a tree

So we might die to rebellion

And live for Him who set us free

Verse 2

You were mocked and reviled

Suffering in our place

Trusting all to Your Father

So enemies could know Your grace


We have been healed, justified

Made alive in the life of Christ

Righteous blood covers every sin

Risen Lamb, heaven’s light

Crucified and now alive

In Your love You have drawn us in

Verse 3

Like straying sheep we were wandering

Destitute and alone

You sought us out like a shepherd

You carried us and brought us home


All our sin for Your grace

What a glorious exchange

Isaiah 53

 1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Christmas music, part 5

I didn’t get to finish writing this post before Christmas, but I still wanted to post it and finish the series.

I wrote about traditional Christmas songs and you can read the post here, but today I’d like to list some new songs that speak clearly about Christ’s incarnation and God’s plan of redemption. (Several of these songs come from the albums New Irish Songs: Incarnation and Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man).

“Joy Has Dawned Upon The World” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Joy has dawned upon the world,
Promised from creation—
God’s salvation now unfurled,
Hope for ev’ry nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
Not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love—
Jesus born of Mary.

Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
Shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast,
Vuln’rable and helpless.

Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold—a King is born today,
Incense—God is with us,
Myrrh—His death will make a way,
And by His blood He’ll win us.

Son of Adam, Son of heaven,
Given as a ransom;
Reconciling God and man,
Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a Friend!
What a glorious myst’ry!
Once a babe in Bethlehem,
Now the Lord of hist’ry.

Continue reading

Christmas music, part 4

After listing my favorite Christmas songs and cds a couple of days ago, I realized that I have few traditional Christmas carols on the list. I like a lot of the traditional songs, but I have few good recordings of the old hymns and my favorite carols. So, as I was scanning through my iTunes looking for good songs to list, those traditional songs didn’t immediately come to mind. I always enjoy singing the doctrinally sound Christmas songs in church or in my devotional times, but I don’t have any recordings–or no great recordings–of some of these songs!

I admit that I’m a little bit picky about what makes a great recording of a hymn or Christmas carol. I have one recording of the King’s College Choir singing many of the old songs, but the tempo of the songs is extremely slow, the arrangements seem to be straight from the hymnbook, and the accompaniment is just organ; I’m sure the carol sing was lovely as a live concert in an ancient cathedral, but it didn’t carry over well as a recording.

Continue reading

Christmas music, part 2

I love that there’s such a great variety of Christmas songs and styles of performing them. I’ve been wanting to post a list of my favorite Christmas songs/cds for a while now. First comes the list of old favorites (from my childhood or long-time favorites), then a list of new songs I’ve become acquainted with in the last year or two. I’ve just lumped all secular and sacred songs together for now.

Old favorites, listed in no particular order:

  1. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby–This is a classic! I love the movie, too, and watch it several times every Christmas.
  2. “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra
  3. “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole–I don’t know if anyone can beat the original recording.
  4. Noel by Canadian Brass–I love the whole cd, but especially “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Tuba Lullaby” and “Happy Christmas”
  5. The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky
  6. Handel’s Messiah
  7. A Little Christmas Music by The King’s Singers–I especially like “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” “Riu, Riu, Chiu,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” and “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen” (“Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming”).  The King’s Singers do some neat arrangements of familiar carols and introduce listeners to older carols or songs from other countries and traditions.
  8. “Sleigh Ride” as recorded on the Boston Pops’s Holiday Pops

New favorites, again listed in no particular order:

  1. Noel by Josh Groban–I like “Little Drummer Boy,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Petit Papa Noël,” “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” “The First Noël,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
  2. “O Holy Night” by Il Divo–big, powerful arrangement
  3. “Born That We May Have Life” by Chris Tomlin
  4. Savior by Sovereign Grace Ministries
  5. “O Come” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Chris Sligh
  6. “Mary, Did You Know” by Clay Aiken
  7. Selected songs from All I Want for Christmas by Straight No Chaser, for example, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Christmastime is Here”
  8. New Irish Hymns #3-Incarnation by Joanne Hogg, Kristyn Getty & Margaret Becker–I love all the songs on this cd and we’ve sung several at church this year.
  9. “Pat-a-Pan” by David Archuleta
  10. Peace by Jim Brickman–I especially like “Peace” and “Rejoice”

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs and recordings?

Christmas music, part 3

I’m going to sound like the Grinch in this post, but oh well. I’ll write another positive Christmas post soon.

Christmas songs I really don’t like:

  1. “Silver Bells”–the melody is terrible, and older recordings sound particularly awful.
  2. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”–I’ve never liked this song because of the suggestive lyrics, although my roommate swears if I saw the original movie this is from that I would like it; however, I recently saw Glee’s performance of this and now the song is permanently ruined for me. (FYI, I watched a couple episodes of Glee because my students always talk about it or hum songs from the show, so I was curious what it was all about. The show is simply horrid. I’ll never watch it again and I’ll speak loudly against it anytime it comes up in conversation.)
  3. “I’ll be Home for Christmas”–I cry almost every time I hear this song, especially since I haven’t been home for Christmas in 5 years now. Who wants to be majorly depressed when listening to Christmas music?
  4. “The Coventry Carol (Lully, Lulla)”–The same goes for this song. The melody is haunting, but that’s because the song is about Herod killing all of the babies in Bethlehem. Yes, it’s biblical, but it’s awfully sad and depressing for a Christmas song.
  5. Pretty much any Ron Hamilton or Frank Garlock Christmas song–I think years of their cheesy cantatas ruined these songs for me. And the lyrics aren’t that great for sacred songs.

Songs that show up on Christmas cds, but have nothing to do with Christmas (or winter, even):

  1. “Over the Rainbow”
  2. “My Favorite Things”
  3. “The Lord’s Prayer” (I especially love Andrea Boccelli’s performance of this song, but it’s not a Christmas song.)
  4. “Simple Gifts”–just because a song has the word “gift” in it does not mean it’s a Christmas song
  5. “Edelweiss”

What are some Christmas songs you don’t like? I know, it sounds slightly scandalous to admit you don’t like a Christmas song, but I’m sure there are some that annoy you for one reason or another.

Can you think of any other songs performed on Christmas cds that aren’t Christmas-y? Why do you think they are included? I think they sometimes add to the festive, sweet, simple, or magical mood of the cd, but I’m interested in hearing what you think.

Stream of consciousness: random thoughts while grading research papers

1. Sometimes I wonder if I like a cover of a song better than the original because I heard the cover first or because it really is better than the first one. It’s kind of hard to objectively judge that.

2. Students overuse and incorrectly use the “not only . . . but also” sentence construction.

3. I like Josh Groban’s new cd, Illuminations,  better than I thought I would, given some of the negative and conflicting reviews of it. But I like an eclectic assortment of music, including classical music and modern music, so I appreciated the artsy-ness of the cd. If you want run-of-the-mill pop music, don’t buy this cd. That sounded condescending, but many of the songs remind me of art songs, which are highly descriptive but don’t have easily sing-able melodies. Josh’s songs are a little more repetitive than some art songs (not in a bad way, but in the sense that they have a refrain).

4. A lot of preachers and musicians speak of “brokenness,” and while I can see the general principle in Scripture, I wonder if this topic is directly expressed in Scripture. Brokenness is also defined in a different way by each person who preaches or sings about it, so this complicates matters. I’d like to study this word/concept and maybe write about it later.

5. Michael Phelps’s Olympic races were amazing. (I just finished reading a paper comparing Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps.) If I had time, I’d look them up on YouTube, but I want to go to bed before midnight.

6. The music video for Josh Groban’s “Hidden Away” is pretty good.

7. 11:47 pm–I’m to the point that I should just go to bed, because I can’t focus on these papers any more, but I’m afraid I won’t wake up in time to finish in the morning. The recurring grading dilemma . . .

8. I wish I could post about another poem, but this is taking too long. I also wish I could go to bed . . .

9. 12:17–Well, I have two papers to finish, but my brain is fried, so I’m going to bed. Hopefully I’ll be able to get up to grade them in the morning.

10. Staying up late to grade papers when I have a cold and no voice probably isn’t a good idea, but at least tomorrow is the last day of teaching I have this week.