New Resource for Hymns: Systematic Hymnology

Do you love hymns as much as we do? Be sure to check out John Gardner’s new blog, Systematic Hymnology! This will be the new home for some of the content that has previously been posted on this blog, with new stories and studies based on the music of the Church added several times a week. Be sure to check back often to see how much we have to learn from our great heritage of hymns! You’ll also find lots of good resources for discovering new artists and songwriters, as well as arrangements that will serve local churches, particularly our own.


A Brassy Christmas

Do you like Christmas music? How about brass music? Or band music? If you answered yes to any of those, have I got a deal for you!

This Sunday, November 21, at 3:00, there will be a concert at Cookeville’s First Baptist Church performed by the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass. The concert is presented in association with Stevens Street’s School of Performing Arts. This is a top notch group, and would be a great way to spend an afternoon with your family!

Tickets are $5 for children/students and $15 for adults, but for members of SSBC’s worship ministry we can offer adult tickets for only $10! That’s a great price for a group of this caliber, but this offer is only good in advance. Adult tickets will be $18 at the door. You can get tickets from me tonight or Sunday morning, or by calling 525-3799.

You can check out a few audio clips of this band by clicking here. Sunday’s concert will feature an eclectic mix of genres, including jazz, classical, movie soundtracks, marches, and several featured soloists. The second half of the concert will include several holiday favorites. After all, nothing says “Christmas” like brass music!

P.S. – I’ll be one of those featured soloists at this concert. It would be great to see several Stevens Street faces in the audience!

What We Are Loving Right Now: Awaken the Dawn

Post by John Gardner

I’ll admit it: I’m a YouTube fanatic. Not in an unhealthy way, mind you, though I have been known to occasionally give in to the diversions of the latest videos gone “viral” when I need a good laugh. For me, YouTube is one of the greatest resources for researching, studying, and preparing to lead others in worship. Whether it’s sermons (the most important element in any worship service), song stories, instructional videos, or simply an opportunity for personal or family worship time at home, I feel like I can find just about anything online. Of course, this also requires discernment, as there’s far more trash than treasure on the World Wide Web. Don’t believe everything you hear on YouTube!

The same goes for song lyrics. Throughout the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit has gifted hymn writers to pen some incredible lyrics through which we praise the Lord by singing to Him and to one another of His attributes, and of His love for us. In fact, I would venture to say that many — if not most — Christians obtain their theological beliefs from the hymns they sing and commit to memory during worship services. This is why, in an era in which many “worship” songs contain lyrics which seem to be more concerned with rhyme schemes than good doctrine — giving us songs that are trite, at best, and, at worst, downright heretical — it is more important than ever to use discernment when choosing which songs will be appropriate to incorporate into our worship services. I am so incredibly grateful to be under the direction of a Worship Minister who is grounded in good doctrine, and who takes lyrical discernment very seriously.

This is also why I am such a big fan of Keith & Kristyn Getty. The Gettys are Irish-born (now US citizens) modern hymn writers who seem to have perfected the art of combining theological Truths and melodies which are equally timeless, yet imminently relevant. Some of their hymns which we have sung recently at Stevens Street include “In Christ Alone”, “Hear the Call of the Kingdom”, and “The Power of the Cross”. Songwriters like these make our job easy, because their lyrics can always be trusted, and their melodies are catchy and easily singable for congregations. Their newest album, “Awaken the Dawn”, is quite possibly their best yet, and is full of some truly incredible worship hymns. You can purchase it from their website:

To introduce you to this album, here are a series of YouTube videos which have been posted in the last couple weeks. The first two are from a recent appearance on “100 Huntley”, Canada’s longest-running daily talk show:

Did you notice the mention of their pastor, Alistair Begg? He’s one of my favorite preachers… and Robert’s last post was about one of his sermons. Anyway, here are some videos of several of the songs from “Awaken the Dawn”… enjoy!

This album also includes the hymn “Behold the Lamb”, which we sang last Sunday night at Stevens Street. Be looking for several more of these hymns to make their SSBC debut soon!

What We Are Loving Right Now

Ronnie Freeman

(We are beginning to offer suggestions of worship artists, books, and online resources for your personal study and worship. This post includes two recording artists and will become a featured resource found in the margin of the blog.)

For those of you looking for new artists for personal worship, or for anyone wanting to find new solos for services of worship, here are a couple of suggestions. Ronnie Freeman is fast becoming a beloved voice in the world of contemporary worship. He combines a lyrical vocal style with thoughtful, penetrating lyrics that reveal a transparent heart of worship. Ronnie’s most recent album is “Big Top Hymns.” Previously, he has released “God Speaking” and his self-titled, “Ronnie Freeman.” You will love his songs, especially, “My Inheritance,” “The Only Thing,” and “Satisfied.”

Christy NockelsChristy Nockels is as real as it gets. She and her husband, Nathan, formerly comprised the group “Watermark” and are producers and vocalists on the Passion recordings. Now, Christy has released her debut solo record, “Life Light Up.” Her beautiful voice is topped only by her fabulous spirit. All of the songs are terrific. We cannot recommend Christy highly enough.