The Power of the Cross

The song, The Power of the Cross, by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, has a special meaning for this Holy Week in the worship of our churches in this time of the year.  I believe its message is so powerful and uniquely succinct offering much room for exuberant worship expression with the gathered body singing it in corporate worship, yet also stirring for mind and soul such that calls for further reflection in a personal setting.  I have personally been singing it each morning in this Holy Week and cannot get thru it without a flow of tears, not that any emotional display is especially indicative of genuine worship.  I must say, nevertheless, that I am amazed at the trigger points for my waterworks.  One time it is the darkness of sin and sorrow for what was done to Jesus, who I love.  I reflect on how it was my sin that placed Him there, and the weight of the sins of the whole world.  Another time the flow of tears comes from the realization of the victory won when the curtain was torn, personally and throughout the nations into eternity.  In addition to the powerful meaning in the message of this song is a significance for its singing.  That is to say that within the worship for me is included reflection of the Tennessee Ladies Chorus (TLC) learning and singing this song as ministry.  That connection holds deep significance for me and thus becomes a part of my worship in singing the song and its message.  In fact, the relationship developed over the last five years with Keith & Kristyn Getty that has allowed Tennessee Baptists to share moments of ministry and fellowship with them adds another dimension to the significance.  Singing with them at the Schermerhorn this past Christmas and the Tennessee Mens Chorale (TMC) at the hymnal release event, as well as at Music Ministry Leadership Conference and retreats have all been special moments of deepening friendship and fellowhip of shared ministry.  This relationship also resonates in my mind and heart as I worship through singing The Power of the Cross, as with other Getty tunes.

I believe what occurs in this worship is exemplary of what is intended for our faith communities when we sing our worship together.

  • We mean and re-mean the message intended by the author of the text and composer of the music
  • By voicing this meaning in song we affirm our faith to and with one another – we sing on common ground at the foot of the cross
  • We are drawn into a stronger sense of community as we are able to express something deeply personal while at once deeply communal
  • Together we follow Jesus’ instructions to remember – we remember the Gospel story (meaning), and we remember His work among us in previous moments of the song’s singing (significance)
  • We follow the biblical admonition to humble ourselves as we confess our need to be forgiven and as we express our worship by uveiling a most personal characteristic, the sound of our voice

I trust you will worship in Spirit and Truth personally and corporately through singing meaning and significance as you reflect upon The Power of the Cross!



About Paul Clark Jr

Worshiper, student of worship. Graduate of Robert E Webber Institute for Worship Studies (DWS), Director of Worship & Music Ministries for Tennessee Baptist Convention. Musician, Clinician, Conference Leader, Teacher, Author, Worship Music Leader, Husband, Father, Grandfather, fellow traveler.

Posted on April 5, 2012, in Tennessee Music Ministers, Tennessee Pastors, Worship Leaders, Worship Renewal, Youth Choir. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t often take the time to reply, but I do appreciate your thoughtful posts and read them every week. If you are like me (after I write my weekly choir email), you probably wonder if anyone at all even takes time to skim the emails, let alone read in detail. So I’m going to comment this time just so you know that at least one of your cyberspace followers is alert.

    We sang “The Power of the Cross” in our Good Friday service, right after the Lord’s Supper and right before the choir sang Robert Sterling’s “Jesus Paid It All.” When planning that service a couple of months ago, I realized that I often err on the side of gloom and death when planning music to surround the Lord’s Table observance. I understand that in many liturgical traditions, Good Friday services are dark and solemn. Nothing wrong with that, but I think we must caution against creating a cloud of guilt that lingers when people walk out of our doors (remember the old Ray Boltz guilt trip tune: “does He still feel the nails ev’ry time I fail”)? Should we be reminded of our sin? Absolutely! But that reminder, if not coupled with reminders of the finality of atonement and assurance of pardon, will simply cause us all to feel “sad” for a while and go on living as usual. We must come away from the Cross knowing and feeling the victory and freedom that Christ gives us.

    My temptation this year was to lean heavily on the sin and guilt side of things when I started planning the Good Friday service. I’m an organist…therefore, I have a little bias for heavy, minor key music 🙂 We have plenty of time to celebrate and be happy 36 hours later on Sunday morning! Besides, shouldn’t we teach some good old somber hymnody with archaic English poetry on our folks once in a while? Ok, yes….but then, the Lord kept bringing to mind “The Power of the Cross.” I was reminded that it is expected for us to not only weep at the cross, but to subsequently GLORY in the cross. We can actually celebrate in the midst of the darkness of Good Friday, because of the amazing pronouncement of “it is finished” from Jesus’ final breath.

    I hope that “The Power of the Cross” will remain and continue to spread around the world as a “standard” hymn of the Church. In it’s words, we weep, we repent, we remember, we rejoice, and we celebrate.

    • Paul Clark Jr

      And I appreciate your response and your readership, Zach. FYI – I at least know how many read the blogs, even though I cannot see who it is. It’s scary enough just knowing how many read and if I actually could tell every week who they are, I might be tempted to either hold back from writing what is really on my heart, or review the list more closely for those I know, as opposed to just believing in faith that God brings this before those who might be encouraged or find something beneficial to their faith journey at a moment when it benefits them and what’s more, the Kingdom. Thanks for replying.

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