Louis Bourgeois – Old 100th Tune Writer

Here is another history lesson on the music wars in the church, of the 1500’s style. This poor man, Louis Bourgeois, gave us the tune to the Old 100th but was essentially run out of town because he dared change the tunes to some familiar Psalms.

Technically though the tune we call the Old 100th was actually written by Bourgeois for Psalm 134. It wasn’t until “All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” taken from Psalm 100, was written by William Kethe that the tune became known as the Old 100th.

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God Whom Heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

Later that same tune was used for the song, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow,” which we often call it “The Doxology”. It was written by Thomas Ken.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

As commonly as we know this tune, writing music tunes wasn’t so easy back in the 1500’s. You actually had to have a license to write a tune!

“Louis Bourgeois is the one most responsible for the tunes in the Genevan Psalter, the source for the hymns of both the Reformed Church in England and the Pilgrims in America. In the original versions by Bourgeois, the music is monophonic, in accordance with the dictates of John Calvin, who disapproved not only of counterpoint but of any multiple parts; Bourgeois though did also provide four-part harmonizations, but they were reserved for singing and playing at home. Many of the four-part settings are syllabic and chordal, a style which has survived in many Protestant church services to the present day.

Of the tunes in the Genevan Psalter, some are reminiscent of secular chansons, others are directly borrowed from the Strasbourg Psalter; The remainder were composed by successively Guillaume Franc, Louis Bourgeois and Pierre Davantès. By far the most famous of Bourgeois’ compositions is the tune known as the Old 100th.Unfortunately, he fell foul of local musical authorities and was sent to prison on December 3, 1551 for changing the tunes for some well-known psalms “without a license.” He was released on the personal intervention of John Calvin, but the controversy continued: those who had already learned the tunes had no desire to learn new versions, and the town council ordered the burning of Bourgeois’s instructions to the singers, claiming they were confusing. Shortly after this incident, Bourgeois left Geneva never to return: … “


Sacred Harp Convention

Sacred Harp Singing – this link will explain Sacred Harp singing. As you will see in the videos, arm waving and foot stomping have been in the church for hundreds of years. 😀

The Thirtieth Annual National Sacred Harp Singing Convention

Birmingham, Alabama

June 18, 19, and 20, 2009

First Christian Church

4954 Valleydale Road

At a sacred harp convention you will find a wide range of people (young to old), from a variety of backgrounds (raised in the church to those interested in folk art) and people come from Europe, Canada, and all over the USA. There will be folks dressed for church and there will be a few younger people with jeans, T-shirts and piercings.

If you’ve never been to a sacred harp singing give it a try, at least you’ll get a “dinner on the grounds” out of it. 😀


The Melody Pierces the Heart More Strongly – Calvin

“Moreover, in speaking now of music, I understand two parts: namely the letter, or subject and matter; secondly, the song, or the melody. It is true that every bad word (as St. Paul has said) perverts good manner, but when the melody is with it, it pierces the heart much more strongly, and enters into it; in a like manner as through a funnel, the wine is poured into the vessel; so also the venom and the corruption is distilled to the depths of the heart by the melody.”

John Calvin in the Preface to the Genevan Psalter

I found this while reading about the Regulative Principle of Worship verses the Normative Principle of Worship especially in relation to music.


“How Can I Keep From Singing” by Thomas Clay

This is another favorite song from the True Church Conference.

How Can I Keep From Singing

My soul was dead, fast-bound and cold
With no desire to serve Him
But to my prison cell He came
In no way to deserve Him
I saw His wounds, His cross, His love
With full salvation bringing
And now His blood flows through my veins
How can I keep from singing?

I’m now an heir secure in Him
In covenantal favor
In debt to grace which pardoned me
Through Christ my Kingly Savior
Each day is fresh with newness filled
While to the cross I’m clinging
To spend my only life for Him
How can I keep from singing?

What if my joys and comforts die
I know that Truth is living
What though the darkness ‘round me close?
Still Truth its light is giving!
The peace from love makes fresh my heart
A song of hope is springing
All things are mine, since Truth I’ve found
How can I keep from singing?

One day I’ll stand before His throne
My life on earth completed
No need to fear, alive in Christ
No condemnation needed
And then for age and age to come
His praises will be ringing
To know He’s waiting there for me
How can I keep from singing?

Music and 3rd Verse—Traditional Shaker Hymn
Text to 1st, 2nd, and 4th Verses—Thomas G. Clay
© 2006 GraceAnne Music

Video of Song


“God of Grace God of Love” by Thomas Clay

This was one of my favorite hymns sung at the True Church Conference.


Show pity, Lord, O Lord, forgive,
Let a repenting rebel live:
Are not Thy mercies large and free?
May not a sinner trust in Thee?

My crimes are great, but don’t surpass
The power and glory of Thy grace:
Great God, Thy nature hath no bound,
So let Thy pardoning love be found.

God of grace! God of love!
O have mercy on a wand’ring heart like mine
Son of Man! Son of God!
Keep me turning to Thy finished work divine

Should sudden vengeance seize my breath,
I must pronounce Thee just in death;
And if my soul were sent to hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.

My lips with shame my sins confess
Against Thy law, against Thy grace:
Lord, should Thy judgment grow severe,
I am condemned, but Thou art clear.

O depth of mercy!
Can it be that mercy’s still reserved for me?
Ah, can my God His wrath forbear
And me the chief of sinners spare?

Written and Arranged by Thomas G. Clay © 2009 GraceAnne Music

Video of Song


True Church Conference 2009 – Music

On Friday night of the True Church Conference, after Voddie Baucham’s sermon, there was a time of questions and answers with him and with Thomas Clay about music. Thomas Clay is Grace Life’s music minister.  There was a packed room of people to hear the questions and answers about music in the church.

There was no way that I could make notes because there wasn’t even elbow room. 🙂  We sat in the floor of the room. But Voddie Baucham told about his reasons for taking piano lessons so that he could lead in his family’s worship. He also told about how when he visited a pastor in Africa, he questioned why they didn’t use drums in their worship service. The African pastor pointed out that many false, pagan religions in their country use drums as an integral part of their worship. Thus, his church did not use drums so as to not be offensive to the sensibilities of those who have been drawn from the false worship of idols.

Thomas Clay has posted the songs that were sung during the conference on his website, Doxology.

2009 True Church Conference Pt. 1

2009 True Church Conference Pt. 2

2009 True Church Conference Pt. 3

I have to admit that when I saw the number of worship sessions just prior to each sermon I wasn’t thrilled. Hymns and singing are very enjoyable, but most large group conferences tend to have very contemporary and loud music. My thoughts were that we might just skip the worship times after the first service. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised. The music was not too loud and the words of the songs were very good. I specifically enjoyed Thomas Clay’s song God of Grace God of Love, especially since we had been singing this song with a much older and harder tune at a church we have been visiting. My husband and I attended each worship session and it was very interesting to hear the depth of singing produced by 1000 people, most of which were pastors.


Worship Volume

I found the following article very interesting. At our previous church several of the church members and even the music leader all said they were deaf in one ear. Why? My thought was that they prefered the music too loud.

Memo to Worship Bands

Can you hear me? You can? I’m sorry if I am shouting, but I have just spent half an hour in a church service with a typical worship band, and my ears are ringing. I’m sure to be fine in a minute. Or hour. Or day—I hope.

Why does everything every Christian musician performs nowadays seem to require high amplification?

Volume Levels and Hearing Safety at Covenant Life Church  (pdf from Bob Kauflin’s Church)

Of late, we have also become aware that some people have hearing problems that may cause a level of physical discomfort due to certain sounds or the overall volume. If this is your experience, please know that we are very sorry for the discomfort. The discomfort does not necessary mean that your hearing is being damaged. You may want to have your hearing checked by a professional audiologist to learn if there is anything you can do to reduce the discomfort.

What do you think?


Give ’em The Meat

My Daughter is in a Youth Orchestra that is formed from students from North East Alabama who have auditioned for the seats. These students really desire to advance in their music beyond what the schools and private lessons allow. Essentially, you would have to say they have a heart for music.

Two weeks ago, they were given a new music piece to play, Jupiter from The Planets by Holst, they had already been practicing Mars. They sight read the part for the first time and where so disappointed. Why? The orchestration that they had to play was a simplified version, a water downed version. They knew that and where so disappointed that they begged for the original piece. These kids know their music! My daughter explained that this was one of her favorite pieces and that they had ruined it by taking out the good parts. They “detest” the weaker version. Therefore, they had to wait two weeks for the new full pieces to arrive.

Monday night they listened to the audio while reading over their respective parts. You should have seen the rapt attention they paid to the music. It was obvious they were thoroughly enjoying it. I sit in here every rehearsal and watch them. They were working so hard and paying close attention more so than the typical attention they pay to music. Their conductor has stressed to them how much work they will have to put in to get this piece ready for the concert in March. They voted and it was unanimous that they were going to do the full piece and not the simpler watered down version.

What does this signify? That youth who have a heart for a subject want the meat of the subject matter. This is evident in Bible study, also. The youth who truly have a heart for the Lord and Bible study want the real stuff, the meat. They can tell when they are getting a watered down version.

My husband taught Bible Drill for several years to fourth – sixth graders. The materials provided where as he said “insipid” so he would often do a short series on a different type topic. One topic was a study of Pilgrim’s Progress and another was a study on the history of the English Bible. The kids enjoyed the much harder material more than the material written for their supposed “grade-level.”

So give’em the meat and let ‘em chew!


Never Take Your Eyes Off The Conductor

My daughter and I spent the weekend at the University of Alabama for Orchestra All-State. The conductor for her orchestra was very good, in addition to entertaining enough to keep the youth’s attention for long days, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM one day. He spent the whole time reinforcing the need to never, ever take your eyes off the conductor, because you may get ahead, behind, or miss your cue.

Doesn’t that apply so much to our Christian Life? How often do we take our eyes off the Lord and worry about our “part” just to find that we have gotten out of step with the Lord the next time we look at Him.

Ps 119:37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. ESV

Ps 145:15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. ESV

Prov 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. ESV

Mic 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. ESV

Thankfully the Lord is a perfect and holy conductor that will never lead us astray.

Aren’t you glad the Lord is in charge and not Victor Borge?

Hope you enjoy this video.