HOLY SPIRIT, LIVING BREATH OF GOD – A SINGING PRAYER APPROPRIATE THROUGH FOUR FOLD WORSHIP
My most recent post began a series on Singing and Four Fold Worship as described by Robert Webber, and as practiced historically through many faith traditions. The posts are intended to address singing as part of GATHERING, WORD, TABLE, and SENDING. This post could well be considered applicable to all the folds, because the song referenced here is a song that could lend powerful dynamics to any of the worship folds, and/or could well bridge from one fold to another. More importantly, the Person of the Trinity of and to Whom this prayer song sings is essential to the Lord’s presence in all of Christian worship, corporate or personal. The song has been a staple of my own personal worship for more than a year. I think as you review its lyric and its easily singable and memorable melody you will find similar effect.
While communicating with a member of Keith’s staff I was forwarded Keith’s blog post regarding the writing of the hymn, Holy Spirit Living Breath of God. I asked for permission to copy Keith’s own words for those reading paulclarkjr.com. Following his words below are some thoughts about the hymn’s use in worship. Here is Keith’s post:
Holy Spirit is the final hymn I wrote with Stuart Townend as part of the Apostle’s Creed album we created in 2005. This collection of songs focuses on the basic tenants of the Christian faith outlined in the ancient creed.
As in much of our songwriting, we wanted to connect the radical truths of what we believe with everyday life. In this particular song, we desired the hymn to function as a sung prayer about the Holy Spirit’s renewing power. In church services, it works well used just prior to the sermon or at its conclusion, as well as before the service or during a prayer time.
We divided the hymn into three verses. The first expresses a prayer for inward change, asking the Holy Spirit to transform us from the core of our being. Without such change, all religious attempts are futile. We must daily ask for renewal and the desire to love and treasure God’s word and his ways.
Verse two petitions the Spirit to abide in us so we’re able to bountifully bear its fruit, such as the kindness and gentleness described so beautifully in Galatians 5:22-23. Closing this verse is a prayer to show Christ is all I do.
Verse three is a more expansive prayer for the church. During the songwriting process, we kept revisiting this verse as we examined the role of the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament. In passage after passage, evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power in someone’s life was marked by two characteristics–Christ is magnified, and the individual is led on a path of sacrifice.
We thus combined the lyric and arrangement of the last verse to build through the first five lines as we convey the power of the Spirit and our desire to see the church hunger for its ways. Then in line six, we suddenly stop with the prayer,
Lead us on the road to sacrifice
That in unity the face of Christ
Will be clear for all the world to see.
Artistically, this works as a bit of a surprise as we underscore the paradox and wonder of Christ’s power in us. Only through experiencing sacrifice are we unified as the body of Christ. Only through reaching the end of ourselves can we achieve a vibrant Christian witness that everyone on the outside can see as different.
Watch the video and download free sheet music at http://www.gettymusic.com/hymns-holyspirit.aspx
As is characteristic of so many Getty-Townend hymns, this hymn relentlessly positions the worshiper in a posture of humility before a powerful God who is Spirit. Our fundamental position for worship must reflect this very spirit of humility. The posturing dynamic bodes well for the hymn to be used in the GATHERING fold of worship. Coming before the Lord praying for new life, and declaring a desire and willingness of my soul to receive His likeness, seems a powerful worship application. The song reflects phrases from historic prayers of the people and accompanying biblical attitudes of kindness, justice, and peace.
In the GATHERING of worship the prayer places worshipers on the plane of common need and desire to know His joy. It unifies us in a thirst for unity through which Christ is seen. In the WORD portion of worship the song prays a prayer for illumination, and that this WORD would “come alive in me.” In TABLE or response this prayer song reiterates our covenant and prays our shared journey of sacrifice while also praying presence of the risen Lord. In SENDING the prayer song, Holy Spirit, places us on mission empowered by the only One who can energize that mission.
One means of helping your congregation to embrace the song to the point of embedding it in mind and spirit would be to repeat its use over four or more weeks, moving its placement in the service into each of the four folds. This kind of repetition not only can endear the congregation to the song, but can impart its usage to their own private worship times and can aid worship education by reminding us of our need for Holy Spirit presence in every part of worship and life. Through your own church’s newsletter and website publications linking worshipers to the gettymusic.com site can allow them to sing and learn as part of their daily worship routine.
Worship renewal can only happen by means of the Holy Spirit.Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship