our music

This is a tricky question. So many Churches these days distinguish between Contemporary Services and Traditional Services. At TBC we don't aim to be either, or to define our music according to any particular style. Music is a many splendered thing, and the beauty of music is its ability to convey every emotion under the sun. Just listening to the Cello Suites, one can hear the joy and life that Bach felt as a child of God. Music is a powerful tool and therefore must be used thoughtfully.
 
Worship exists for God first, and us second. The songs that we select and sing are chosen for their content first and foremost. Their lyrics must be  full of rich truth about His majestic nature and awesome ways. Consider the gripping words of Edward Perronet's hymn, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name, and let them wash over your soul (they give us goosebumps!):
 
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all! 
 
Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre, and as they tune it, fall
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all!
Before His face Who tunes their choir, and crown Him Lord of all!
 
Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall,
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all!
Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all!
 
O that, with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!
 
Words like those need to be accompanied by music that is equally full of richness, power, grandeur and gravitas. We believe that the music which accompanies the message in a song should be full of reverence and awe. But this does not mean it should be empty of emotion and life. What it does mean is that both the lyrics and music need to be cut from the same cloth. Both the lyrics and the music need to communicate the same truth, and evoke the same passion. When we worship God, a broad range of emotions are at stake, from a deep sense of awe because of the awesome, eternal God who He is, to feelings of mournful sorrow as we meditate on the sufferings that He endured for our sins, to resounding joy that we have been saved by His Grace and lavished with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. When it comes to music - we firmly believe that it needs to correspond to all of those profound truths, and the passions that they evoke. 
 
We think of music as a servant to our singing. Something that comes alongside and helps us proclaim our praise.  In the same way that it would not do to illuminate the Mona Lisa in the Louvre with a disco ball, we try not to let the music become more focal than the message. In the same way that it would (usually) be inappropriate to sing a Beach Boys song at a graveside service, we aim to use music that corresponds to the kind of event that worship is. There is a time and place for everything. This balance is one that we look for every week. We sing a range of songs, from Bach to Philip Bliss, Claude Goudimel to Keith Getty, ancient to modern - all chosen to convey the specific emotion and weight that any given part of the worship-service requires. The cart must be strong enough to carry the weight of its load. Glorious words need glorious music.
 
Here are a few verses from an ancient hymn that we love, sung to a beautiful tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams:
 
Come down, O Love divine; seek Thou this soul of mine
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near; within my heart appear
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.
 
Oh, let it freely burn, till wordly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
 
Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing - 
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.
 
And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the pow'r of human telling;
No soul can guess the grace till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.
 
Come Down, O Love Divine, Bianco da Siena (d. 1434)
 
And here are the words of a song that we love just as much, written in our era:
 
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
 
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
 
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
 
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
 
In Christ Alone, (2002) Stuart Townand and Keith Getty 
 

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