How many of you, without looking, know the words to the hymn Give Thanks to God on High? It sounds like it would be the fanfare of every Thanksgiving service ever, right? While it certainly works as a general thanksgiving hymn, it actually has a much narrower focus.
Through the four verses of this hymn, we thank God for 3 specific things:
1. The “saints of other days” who faithfully worked to spread the Gospel message
2. The privilege to be numbered among those saints as we continue to spread the good news of the Gospel.
3. God’s promise that the church will endure forever because he will send future saints to continue this work.
In short, we thank God for the Church.
Most of the time, when we think of "the church," we think of the buildings that we worship in. We think of the Sunday morning services where we get to give praise to our God. However, the word that Jesus used that is often translated as “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia”. This word does not refer to a building or a service, but instead to a gathering or a group of people. When it comes to Christianity, that's the invisible church of all believers. It is this group of people that we thank God for in this hymn. We thank God for the people in the past, present, and future who have faithfully, do faithfully, and will faithfully carry out his work.
(Speaking of which, I am especially thankful for the members of my local ecclesia who have helped with the recording of this song. Jill Howe, Jared Colon, Alex Reeder, Jill Sonnenberg, Gregg Prange Sr., Gregg Prange Jr., Cody Holderbecker, and Pastor Kent Reeder. Without their talents, none of this would have been possible.)
Our version of this hymn uses a new melody that we think gives some new life to a great old text. It begins simply, with an acoustic guitar and a single vocal and continually builds throughout the song. By the end, there's a horn part that evokes the feeling of New Orleans jazz as well as gang vocals where we all join in to single the chorus in exuberant three part harmony.
This is Illumine's first recording, ever! We certainly have some things we can do better as we learn. You'll notice little discrepancies. There are some pops and clipping. We are excited for the ways we'll improve in future recordings, and we are very proud of this one - and we hope you like it. We really think many of you will, and we pray that it helps you in your life of worship.