Sing, O Heavens! O Earth, Rejoice! – CPC (2013, Angel Harp & Human Voice)

click on image to listen to song for free.

Good Friday has come and gone.  All the Earth is quiet, still and dark as night.  What has happened to our Savior?  Jesus was supposed to save God’s people and now He is dead?  These questions surround the heartbreak of His disciples and friends as they wait for God knows what.  Meanwhile, in the spiritual realm everything has slowed down to a crawl – awaiting the most pivotal moment of all time.
It was as if a volcano was about to erupt and every being, good and evil, fixed their gaze on His grave waiting in anticipation and holding their collective breathe before the biggest moment in salvation history.
Then, on Sunday, Immanuel bursts forth from the dead holding the keys to redemption and eternal life!  And the harmony of praise that He receives from the Heavens and the Earth – angels and humans together – catapults high and loud for all of creation to witness and proclaim!
The resurrection and Jesus’ ascension to honor and authority in Heaven is the subject of our final song for this collection of posts about the Lent/Easter season.  Christ Presbyterian Church in Alabama combined their efforts with some of the folks from Red Mountain to create this album and this tune.  Listen, meditate and celebrate along with the Heavenly hosts!
Sing, O Ye Heavens! O Earth, rejoice!
Angel harp and human voice,
‘Round Him, as He rises, raise,
Your ascending Savior’s praise,
Hallelujah!
All His work and warfare done,
He into His heaven is gone,
and beside His Father’s throne,
now is pleading for His own,
Hallelujah!
 
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Asking gifts for sinful man
that He may come down again
And the fallen to restore
In them dwell for evermore
Hallelujah!
Sing, O Ye Heavens! O Earth, rejoice!
Angel harp and human voice,
‘Round Him, in His Glory, raise,
Your ascended Savior’s praise,
Hallelujah!
Jesus would rather die than live without you.  But when He rose again, showing that His love for you comes with supreme power, that was the moment of true victory!
Hallelujah, He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!
And the army of God’s warriors of Heaven play their harps and raise their mighty voices shoulder to shoulder beside you and me…
Listen to John the Revelator paint the scene that inspires our song and hearts:
Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders…He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb…And they sang a new song with these words:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 And you have caused them to become
    a Kingdom of priests for our God.
    And they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. 12 And they sang in a mighty chorus:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
    to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and blessing.”

13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
    belong to the one sitting on the throne
    and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

– Revelation 5:6-13

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Let All Mortal Flesh Keep SIlence – Red Mountain Music (2008, Silent Night)

Click on image to listen to song for free.

This is my second dip into the well that is Red Mountain Music, first time during this Christmas season.  If I end up doing this form of a blog for a long enough time, I will probably use every song that Red Mountain has ever made…they are that good.

However, this song is not just another Christmas song and I would guess that many of you have never heard of it before.  In my humble opinion, it is the complete package of what a Christmas song should be: rich content, intimate cadence, and majestic focus.  And this is the best version of the ancient hymn by far.

True to it’s stated purpose, Red Mountain has resurrected a forgotten classic with vibrant, new sounds.  “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” is very old, originating from an offertory hymn/chant in the 4th century AD of the Divine Liturgy of St. James.  It was later translated from Greek and put to melody during medieval times.  The title is taken from Habakkuk 2:20, but here is the verse in context, starting from verse 18:

“What good is an idol carved by man, or a cast image that deceives you?
How foolish to trust in your own creation—a god that can’t even talk!
What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’
To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’
Can an idol tell you what to do?
They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside.
But the Lord is in His holy Temple.  Let all the earth be silent before Him.”

The Bible is full of talk like this where the author mocks the ridiculousness of worshiping inanimate objects.  But in this text, the smack talk is backed by a reference to God’s answer to empty idol worship.  For the people of Israel, God met with them through His very presence within the holy temple.  A supernatural answer to “rival” idolatries.  But salvation history was utterly defined by what God did in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.

Let our song selection describe the historical union between deity and mortal flesh:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

I honestly cannot think of a better way to call attention to the incarnation of Christ than with these lyrics.  Note, specifically, how the last verse recalls the ark of the covenant and the sculpted cherubim that “guarded” the holy of holies – where God’s presence would reside, visited by the Jewish high priest once a year.  What is great about this picture is realizing how drastically different it is from seeing God lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes – accessible to human parents, animals, shepherds and other bystanders.  From extreme limitation to awesome incarnation!

When you consider how big of a deal it is that God…supreme Being in all the universe…God came down to earth as a babe, it is unfathomable to comprehend.  The only and best response is twofold: be silent and then say, “Alleluia!”

Perhaps, this Christmas season is getting a little hairy for you.  That is understandable.  My challenge to you and to myself is simply this: take ten minutes in silence, just one time over the next couple of weeks, find ten minutes to be still and meditate upon the unbelievable reality that God came to us as flesh and blood.  Then, when those ten minutes are over, simply whisper in adoration to Him, “Alleluia…Praise Yahweh!”