We are inching closer and closer to October 31, 2017, the day that marks five hundred years since Martin Luther sparked off the Protestant Reformation in Wittenburg, Germany. If you've not been able to get up to speed on the what and why of this formative event in church history, take the opportunity now to read the previous post Reformation Anniversary or listen to the recent sermon series, The Five Solas.

Along with the reclamation of biblical truth and practice, the Reformation also instigated renewed interest in christian worship; everything from preaching, to the sacraments, to the prayers and songs employed by the church gathered. Even in the 16th century it seemed that no two groups fully agreed on what the role of music could be or should be in the church.

Martin Luther encouraged the singing of hymns (some of which he wrote) with harmonies, in tandem with a professional choir, and to tunes crafted specifically from German culture and folk melodies. John Calvin limited his congregation to Psalm-singing exclusively, in unison only without musical accompaniment. Ulrich Zwingli, although an accomplished musician, threw out the proverbial baby with the bath-wash. Under his leadership, all music and singing (and public prayer) were kept out of church services all together. To him, singing was prayer, and as such should be kept private (per Matthew 6:6).

If you've attended ABEFC at least once, you've already figured out where we stand. We love to sing, and we have no problem with instruments accompanying our singing. Some songs are old, some are new. Some are simple, and others theologically lofty. But in all, one thing is consistent - we sing what we believe. We do not invoke God through our singing. We do not incite emotional ecstasy. We do not pontificate or empty our minds. Instead, we respond to God and to one another with the truths revealed in the scriptures alone and to the glory of God alone. Music is a marvelous gift of God given to us, but as with every gift, best used with wise discernment. Luther said it well:

“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.”

Music in this sense is an incredibly beneficial tool for teaching in the church. With that in mind, I'm excited to have come upon the opportunity to introduce a new song, one that reinforces the biblical principles recovered by the Reformers nearly five hundred years ago. Reformation Song walks through each of the Five Solas, giving proper distinction to each through well-crafted and orthodox lyrics. Besides being a hallmark of the anniversary, I hope this song will be a lasting teaching tool and aid to our worship for many years to come. As always, may this and every song we sing together be to one end: not an end in itself, but to the glory of God alone.

(The following arrangement was put together by worship interns from Boyce College)

VERSE 1 (Sola Scriptura)
Your word alone is solid ground,
The mighty rock on which we build.
In every line the truth is found,
And every page with glory filled.

VERSE 2 (Sola Fide)
Through faith alone we come to You,
We have no merit we can claim,
Sure that Your promises are true,
We place our hope in Jesus’ name.

CHORUS (Soli Deo Gloria)
Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone!
Gloria, gloria, glory to God alone!

VERSE 4 (Solus Christus)
In Christ alone we’re justified,
His righteousness is all our plea.
Your law’s demands are satisfied,
His perfect work has set us free.

VERSE 4 (Sola Gratia)
By grace alone we have been saved,
All that we are has come from You.
Hearts that were once by sin enslaved,
Now by Your pow’r have been made new.
Now by Your pow’r have been made new.

Words and Music by Tim Chester and Bob Kauflin ©2017 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), Sovereign Grace Music (Adm. worldwide at CapitolCMBPublishing.com, excluding the UK which is adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C. Cook family)