Sacred Concert and Gospel Outreach: The Hope That Lieth Within (11/3 PM)

Sacred Concert and Gospel Outreach: The Hope That Lieth Within (11/3 PM)

Cancer can come to anyone. This year it came to a recent BJU graduate teaching music in Greenville. Meredith Keen was hardly expecting the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As her treatment progressed, however, she determined to use her musical gifts to keep from wasting the experience.

Through my cancer journey I have met so many people: oncologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, office staff, other patients, nutritionists, phlebotomists, etc. as well as the director of the Cancer Society of Greenville, the communications director for the Young Adult Cancer Patients society, and many more.

It hit me that 70% (and that's being generous) are unsaved—Christian in southern cultural name. All these individuals know I am a musician and are in all honesty really curious as to what that looks like exactly.

Rand Hummel, Abby Chetta, and Jason Hamilton are all on board for a sacred concert. Our vision is for Rand to present the clear Gospel woven in and out between sacred music.

“The Hope That Lieth Within” (see 1 Peter 3:15) is November 3 at 5:30 PM. Invitations for your own use are available at the Welcome Center. Please pray that the Lord will use this gospel presentation.

Always Good: Gratitude for Majesty Music

Always Good: Gratitude for Majesty Music

Sunday was a special one for many reasons. You can read the overall report from the day here. The ministry of the Majesty Music team, however, had several factors especially worth noting.

In the days leading up to our Homecoming, many of us knew that the day would be a very difficult one for the team. Flora Jean Garlock, beloved wife of Majesty's founder, had just died. The team's ministry to us came literally the day after her funeral service. We did not immediately realize, however, what depth that would add to the team's ministry.

Because members of the Garlock and Hamilton families traveled to Greenville for the funeral, we got to hear from Majesty's founder, Frank Garlock himself. Dr. Garlock led us in singing "Hallelujah, What a Savior." Before we sang, he told the story of how Philip P. Bliss, the song's composer, died trying to save his wife from a burning train he had already escaped. Dr. Garlock was under obvious pressure as he told the story, but he led the singing with gusto nevertheless… or was it "therefore"?

Frank Garlock leading congregational singing, October 6, 2019. Photo: Rich Streeter.

Frank Garlock leading congregational singing, October 6, 2019. Photo: Rich Streeter.

A few minutes before Dr. Garlock’s ministry was another deeply moving moment. Majesty had agreed to extend their rehearsal schedule so that one of their numbers could incorporate our choir and orchestra. We settled on the song "You Are Always Good," and Ben Farrell and our own Megan Morgan provided vocals. We did not know when we chose the song that it would come right after a funeral. Majesty chose that song to close the service, and we sang the chorus as a congregation.

"You Are Always Good" appeared in 2013, soon after the tragic death of Jonathan Hamilton. Jonathan had struggled with mental illness for much of his life and died at age 34. Jonathan was also a gifted composer, and after his death his parents found this music in his belongings. They sent the tune to hymn writer Chris Anderson, who then wrote "You Are Always Good" as Jonathan's testimony. Since then it has brought hope to many during dark times, including many in our church family. Having our own musicians present it along with Jonathan’s own family members—the day after they held another family member’s funeral—was indeed a rich blessing.

We look forward to singing “You Are Always Good” again this week. Take a few minutes to watch and listen if you can.

Five Balances in Our Church's Music

Five Balances in Our Church's Music

At Morningside Baptist Church we consider several important balances of music-making. Christians have debated each one vociferously over the centuries, but each one is also very important to us.

Singing and Playing

Here we sing and also play. Instruments are also implied in Ephesians 5:19 and are commanded throughout the psalms. Song, however, is the core of our music. Even most of our instrumental pieces are arrangements of songs. There’s nothing wrong with purely instrumental music, but during musical selections we try to make it easy to meditate on biblical lyrics—even when no one’s singing. In fact, we often include a cappella singing at some point in most of our Sunday morning services.

Participating and Presenting

We make music all together and also listen to each other. Some academics distinguish “participatory” and “presentational” music, and we definitely want to have both.*

The Bible commands us to make music together. No one gets to leave music for everyone else to do. But we also want to allow those willing to prepare ahead of time (“rehearse,” we sometimes say!) room to use their skills for the good of our church family. That’s one of the reasons our choir sings in almost every Sunday service and that a service without at least one more musical presentation is rare indeed.

It’s a high calling to present sacred music to others, and we have several accountability measures in place to help ensure that those presentations do bring about good for the church family. A church-wide worshipful response to the greatness and goodness of God is always our goal. And participation-based music—congregational singing—is our primary method for achieving it.

Old and New

We use old and also new songs. The core of our repertoire is a fairly small set of widely known psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that have helped Christians for centuries: “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” “And Can It Be", and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” come readily to mind. We also want to reflect the songs that have helped our own church family, including songs that aren’t as widely popular anymore but have lived inside many of us for many years.

On the other hand, Scripture commands us to sing “a new song”—and however you interpret those passages, we think “new” should at least mean “written during our lifetime.” And since we are blessed with a mixture of people from children to octogenarians and even above, we want that “lifetime” to include songs less than 20 years old. Occasionally, though, we actually get to hear world premieres from songwriters in our own church family.

Psalms and Hymns

We sing psalms—even though most of us don’t know very many. That’s because the biblical commands to sing often include the command to sing from God’s own songbook. “A Mighty Fortress” comes from Psalm 46, “Joy to the World’ from Psalm 98, and the psalm behind “As the Deer” isn’t hard to find. But if we’re going to have new songs, we have to include some new lyrics. And that leads us into our last balance.

Objective and Subjective

If the only thing our songs discuss is the way we feel about God or even what He’s done for us, we are missing out on so much. In ancient Greece, a “hymn” usually referred to a song of praise, listing not actions but attributes of the deity it addressed. And songs like “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Immortal, Invisible” are simply good for us to consider. But it’s one thing to sing the truth—and another to mean it. That’s why we allow room for songs like “Oh, How I Love Jesus” or “Complete in Thee", with its chorus reveling in what God has done, is doing, and will do to me:

Yea, justified, O blessed thought!

And sanctified, salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified I too shall be.

Some songs do a great job at both (“His Robes for Mine", “In Christ Alone”). But we are also happy to make room for a whole song about God’s greatness followed by a whole song about our love for Him.

Taken together, these balances help ensure some real variety in our church’s music program. There are many more we could discuss, like rejoicing vs. lamenting, folk music vs. art music (“classical”), and many more. But these five balances definitely influence our planning every single week.

Todd Jones
Music Pastor

*Background music is a separate category, but we’re not against that either!

Choir, Open and Otherwise

Choir, Open and Otherwise

“Hark!” 2018 Christmas Program (12/16/18).

“Hark!” 2018 Christmas Program (12/16/18).

Last week: “The Prodigal Song, 1759 (Part I)”

If the Lord has gifted you in music, why not use that gift at Morningside? Our choir and orchestra assist in congregational singing whenever possible and present music during most Sunday services. The music we sing is rich in doctrine, conservative, and graceful in arrangement.

Open Choir

This week, anyone who joins us at 5:00 in the choir loft is welcome to sing with us in the PM service. Come one, come all!

Join the Choir

We also welcome new members in all sections and for all ability levels January through October. Child care and transportation assistance are available. For more information or to get involved, please begin the process now or contact our music pastor Todd Jones.

The Prodigal Song, 1759 (Part I)

John Macallan Swan,  The Prodigal Son  (1888). Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1889

John Macallan Swan, The Prodigal Son (1888). Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1889

I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me in His arms.
In the arms of my dear Savior, oh, there are ten thousand charms.

He didn’t write the words of the chorus, but they describe his testimony perfectly. This month we’re reminding ourselves of the great call to repentance found in Joseph Hart’s “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.”

Hart (1712-68) knew the Christian gospel from an early age. Two years older than George Whitefield, he also grew up in an age of revivals. During his twenties, he began to claim Christ as his own Savior. But by his own account, he spent most of his thirties as a grace-abusing libertine:

I even outwent professed infidels, and shocked the irreligious and profane, with my horrid blasphemies and monstrous impieties. Hardness of heart was, with me, a sign of good confidence.

In the late 1740s Hart began trying to improve his morals. But fear for his soul took over. He would like awake at night, shivering for fear of hell. He attended services under the preaching of Whitefield and other evangelicals but could not escape his fears.

Finally, in 1757, after a sermon on Revelation 3:10, Hart threw himself completely upon the mercy of God. The effect was immediate and drastic:

Tears ran in streams from my eyes for a considerable while; and I was so swallowed up in joy and thankfulness, that I hardly knew where I was.

Two years later, he published a book of “hymns,” devotional poetry drawing deeply on his own experience. One of them began “Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched.” and sounded like a call to repentance:

Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.

The perspective of the poem soon became a calling; by 1760 Hart was building a church in London. They said that 20,000 people attended his funeral. The prodigal had become a beloved preacher.

Contact us for a copy of “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” Let’s enjoy sharing these powerful words!

Hart’s memoirs quoted in Walter Wilson, History and Antiquities of the Dissenting Churches, vol. 3 (London, 1810), 345-47.


Summer Recital

With some participants under 18 and others 80 and beyond, this Sunday’s summer recital was a sweet time of fellowship in music for many of us. Over 100 guests and members gathered to hear vocal and instrumental music praising our Savior and testifying of His grace. Some participants had never been on our platform alone before, and others it was simply wonderful to hear again. Multiple singers presented their own songs, and others reminded us of great hymns of today and generations gone by.

Congregational singing is at the heart of our music program at Morningside, but we also view singing and making melody to each other as an important part of worship and fellowship. We are thankful for the musical gifts and desires that so many in our church family have, and we look forward to hearing some of these selections in our Sunday services.

For more information about vocal and instrumental music, contact Pastor Jones ( The next recital is the afternoon of November 3. If you are a young or seasoned vocalist or instrumentalist, we would love to hear from you then.

Sign up for the next recital here.

If you are part of our church family and can spend some of your Sunday afternoon hearing praise and testimony from your church family, we hope to see you there!

Todd Jones

Music Pastor


Song for July: "Wonderful, Merciful Savior"

Song for July: "Wonderful, Merciful Savior"


This July we’re adding “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” to our repertoire. It’s a hymn praising the Trinity—Son, Spirit, and Father—for quenching the hunger of our hearts as only God can do.

According to a 2016 interview (external link), musician Dawn Rodgers began the song during her devotions. It was 1989, and her new husband Eric Wyse, also a musician, was away on a business trip.

When Eric returned, Dawn had most of the first two verses drafted, and they finished the verses together. “Wonderful, merciful Savior” and “Counselor, Comforter, Keeper” praised the Son and the Spirit.

Soon afterwards, Eric and Dawn presented the song to their local church. After the sermon, the pastor asked them to sing it again. That’s when Dawn showed Eric the third verse… that she had finished during the sermon.

If you’ve ever hungered for God’s presence—in the Son, the Spirit, and the Father—the way a young bride yearns for her husband’s return, you’ll identify with the message of “Wonderful, Merciful Savior.”

Contact us for a copy of the lyrics and music.