Ascent Denver Recap – January 24, 2010

Zac HicksUncategorized4 Comments

photo courtesty of Paul Adams ( Ascent began 1.5 years ago, it was a dream attempted.  In a nutshell, my under-the-surface goal was to experiment with the edge of modern worship and see if the hymns movement and other liturgical elements could find a place there without compromising what makes modern worship beautiful and powerful.  I wanted us to grow in being able to do the modern worship thing well–lights, audio, film, experiential, hands-on elements and ministry, and visuals–while proving that one didn’t have to do so at the expense of church history, hymnody, theological depth, and more formal liturgical elements.  Sunday night, after 3 previous rounds, the vision finally blossomed in fullness.

I totally understand (especially in my church) that the sensationalism of modern worship doesn’t work for everyone.  Some people are too offended by it all.  Personally, however, I’d rather harness and redeem what culture uses for its own misplaced worship and (with cautious reflection) sanctify it for holy use.  As I was telling the band at our dress rehearsal, I believe that great production elements (lights, sound, haze, etc.) can be viewed in the same way church musicians have spoken of music in relation to the text–it acts as the text’s frame and amplifier.  Not everyone will see it that way, but that is the resolution I first came to in attempt to have a charitable spirit to the modern worship I once totally despised, and it is now the resolution I move forward with (albeit pensively) as I seek to engage modern worship and reclaim hymnody for it.  Some of my thoughtful colleauges and mentors, were they to have seen what we had done two nights ago, would bury their faces in their hands, claiming, “Has he learned nothing about what I taught him?”  But, for now, I’ve given up on “us vs. them.”  I’m going for “us vs. us.”  Modern worship, I’m on your team.  Hymns movement, I’m on your team, too.  And the day I plant my victory flag in the sand is when Hillsong United leads an Indelible Grace track.  😉

Here’s how the evening ran:

Opening Video (a modern Prelude)

  • set to Mute Math’s “Reset”
  • a concept piece, preparing the worshiper by juxtaposing the brokenness of the world and the journey of the individual with the broken body of Christ and the journey to the cross
  • centering on the statistic that January 24 is named by psychologists as the most depressing day of the year

Song Sets 1 & 2

“Turn Your Eyes”

  • the classic hymn, done to Vicky Beeching’s arrangement

“I Will Lift My Eyes”

  • Bebo Norman’s great exptrapolation of Psalm 121 (a psalm of ascents)
  • After this song, we read Psalm 134 responsively as a Call to Worship

“Angels from the Realms of Glory”

  • another old hymn to new music
  • a pretty agressive, punk-ish setting, complete with Hillsong-esque “shouts of praise,” in the form of congregational “whoa’s”
  • a liturgical cheat, given that it’s an Advent hymn and we’re in Epiphany…I like playing with the boundaries of the liturgical year

“Arise, My Soul, My Joyful Powers”

  • Track 2 off The Glad Sound
  • a Watts hymn, intended to respond to the gospel with “loud hallelujah’s”

“How Great is Your Faithfulness”

  • One of my personal favorites off Matt Redman’s We Shall Not Be Shaken


  • A great song by Colorado-Springer-turned-temporary-Nashville-ite, Jared Anderson

“We Have Come”

  • Track 3 off The Glad Sound
  • Another Watts setting intended to move the worshiper from the perimeter into the throneroom of God

Message: Experiencing and Knowing the Love of God When We are Broken

Song Set 3 (acoustic), accompanying Communion, Foot-Washing, Anointing, and Prayer

“Bread of the World in Mercy Broken”

  • Track 4 off The Glad Sound
  • An old hymn, inviting us to the Table, through the love and mercy of Christ

“Abide with Me”

  • From Indelible Grace’s Wake Thy Slumbering Children
  • This hymn, in its original musical setting or this one, busts me up

“Jesus, Lover of My Soul”

  • From Red Mountain Church’s Depth of Mercy
  • This has been an enduring favorite of mine: old hymn to new music

“How He Loves”

  • A song made popular on Crowder’s Church Music
  • The chorus is too powerful not to do, despite the fact that its verses are nearly unsingable (rhythm is too irregular and idosyncratic); this fit very appropriately with the themes and was a powerful song to “sing over” the congregation as they were experiencing the healing ministry of the Holy Spirit through communion, foot-washing, and elder prayer
  • I appreciate that Crowder amended the song’s original lyrics from “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” to “heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss”


  • set to U2’s early 80’s “Rejoice”
  • Scripture quotations of rescue, salvation, and burden-lifting against a backdrop of white sheets lifting (floating) off the tops of buildings in a Middle Eastern city, along with people rejoicing and dancing

Song Set 4

“The Stand”

  • A powerful song of consecration by Hillsong United; a response to the gospel

“In Christ Alone”

  • If you have never heard this song, I am surprised, and you are sorely deficient; it is a song of creedal quality

“What the Lord Has Done in Me”

  • A powerful testimonial song by Reuben Morgan (Hillsong main)
  • Our congregation has latched on to this song

Postlude: “King of All Days,” by Hillsong United

  • We didn’t do this song as a band, we just let it play; it rehearsed the major theme of the evening: “Found in the Arms of Love”

Beyond the music and the liturgy, the reason I say that Ascent blossomed this time around is because our visionary goals for the mid-service ministry time were finally achieved.  People sought out prayer and reconciliation with God and with one another.  I don’t believe tears are always a good rubric of the Spirit’s working, but last night was one of those evenings.  The tears of many were the evidence of God doing some genuine heart-work in the lives of our people.  We underestimated the amount of people who would seek out healing prayer and anointing by our elders, such that we had lines 15 people deep, waiting for ministry.  This is the best “problem” I could have ever imagined happening.  This was also the first time we celebrated Communion at Ascent, and my sacramentology requires me to believe that God “showed up” in a special way as we enjoyed the Holy Feast.

The Team

God the Father – the Audience
God the Son – Worship Leader
God the Holy Spirit – the Great Physician

Dave Farmer – Creative Director

Zac Hicks – vox, electric, acoustic
Stacy Farmer – vox
Erick Young – vox, acoustic, mandolin
Abby Hicks – vox, pregnant-ness
Michael Jewell – electric
Dave Strunk – keys
Connor DeFehr – bass
Todd Johnson – drums
Paul Adams – congas, shakers, cajon, cymbals, djembe, shekere, and…

Scott Lilja, Tadd Johnson, Eric Emeott – A/V

4 Comments on “Ascent Denver Recap – January 24, 2010”

  1. I am bummed, I missed your concert. Sunday was a busy day dealing with some needs in our Church. It looks like you got your Tele fixed though !!

  2. Maybe Hillsong United should also include "Arise My Soul" and "We Have Come"…if they seek to spread the Word, honor God, and also be a commercial success.

  3. God was present Sunday evening, and I was incredibly blessed….Thank you for the prayer, vision, and effort you put into creating this time and space for us to commune with Him.

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