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New Hymn: My Jesus Fair

I’ve teamed again with my good friend Greg Habegger (with whom I wrote Holy, Mighty, Worthy) to produce a new hymn. My Jesus Fair focuses on Christ and the suffering He endured at the hands of men and God to obtain our salvation. It is our hope that My Jesus Fair will point the Lord’s people Christ-ward.

Links for My Jesus Fair:

Full Sheet Music / Half Sheet Music / Doctrinal Notes / MP3 Sample

Because God delights in worship that is biblical, thoughtful and passionate—what we often call intentional—let me provide a quick overview of the biblical texts and theological themes of the hymn:

Verse 1 focuses on the irony that the curse which was given by God (pictured by the thorns of Genesis 3:18) was actually borne by God at Calvary (pictured by the crown of thorns).

The chorus expresses wonder at the sacrifice of the Son of God on our behalf, to which we respond with both joy and grief—abhorring our sin and adoring our Savior.

Verse 2 focuses on the scorn heaped upon our Lord at His trial and death, contrasting it with His silence and prayer for their (and our) forgiveness in Luke 23:34.

Verse 3 alludes to Colossians 2:14, where Scripture uses the powerful picture of God nailing our sins to the cross even as sinners nailed His Son to the cross.

Verse 4 is really the pinnacle of the hymn, expressing wonder at the doctrine of propitiation—that God was pleased to crush His Son and satisfied by His atoning death (Isaiah 53:10-11). It is worth considering that while we generally think in terms of the suffering of Christ, the wrath poured upon Him and the breaking of fellowship must have been infinitely grievous to the Father and Spirit, as well. The more we meditate on propitiation, the more amazed we will be. It is glorious.

Verse 5 rejoices in Christ’s slaying death by His resurrection and anticipates His glorious return. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

Please feel free to print out the sheet music, whether for personal or corporate use. We would be thrilled if the Lord would use this hymn bring honor to Himself.

May Christ be magnified!


Note: This is one of several songs that Greg and I are working on at this time. We’re excited about the prospect of serving our Lord together in this way. I’ll give more details about other songs as they become available.


26 Responses

  1. Just listened to the new song this morning Chris. I am blessed by it and look forward to using it.

  2. sang it at church this morning…thanks!

  3. Great! Did revival break out? ;)

  4. Nice, Chris. I will teach it to my church next month.

  5. well, several people left, and I think they were crying :D

  6. Wow, Beth. Now, this is important…

    Were they holding their hearts, as though under conviction, or holding their ears, as though in pain?

    And if it is the latter, how do I know it was my fault and not yours? :)

    Joking aside, I’m glad you were able to use it. And I trust it will be a blessing to your churches, Bruce & Brian.

  7. I really enjoyed this hymn Chris, but the real question is WWDS: What would dissidens say? :-)

  8. Couldn’t help but notice how similar it sounds to a popular SG tune…

  9. Warning: Just my opinion.


    Praise the Lord for a great song. As soon as I saw the music (my sound didn’t work), I knew that your friend had found a tune that will help this song have a longer life. You probably won’t take this as a compliment, but I sincerely mean it this way: it has a Getty quality and sound to it.

    This hymn could play just as well with a guitar as with an organ. (Don’t stone me!) But that is the genius of Getty’s music as is pointed out here.

    Your lyrics are good and the music is written in a very comfortable range. And there are pleasant surprises. The first line of the hymn resting on the tonic (thorns) is brilliant, I think. It gives a congregation time to get focused on the song before they are doing all kinds of vocal gymnastics that don’t have any correlation with the text. I think the key to hymns for our congregations today is simplicity and unpredictability.

    On the other hand, the high notes (the high D which is high for today’s congregations) are placed exactly where any thinking congregation would instinctively swell vocally: love, joyful, praise. Brilliant.

    I am not an expert on music or hymns, but I often disagree with the experts because I don’t think they listen to congregations pastorally. You should be able to hear the souls of your people when they sing, but much of the music is a foreign language to the saints. I personally would prefer Parvot, but his music is an unknown language. Therefore, good hymns have got to be written in a language the people sing.

    I personally do not like much of what the Wilds and Soundforth put out. My wife and I tried to listen to a whole CD the other night. Our conclusion has always been the same: buy one, you’ve heard them all.

    The dislike is not because it is conservative. I actually agree with the Dissidens Divines on this. My lack of appreciation for most music coming from those sources (Soundforth, Wilds, etc)is that it is a tribal language, very parochial, and the music seems to contradict the message. Few of their songs will pass the test of universal endorsement like, say, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Townend/Getty. That song is sung at BJU, fundamental churches, anglican churches, and by charismatics. Like the hymnals show, generally the best songs will get the nod from the Body Universal. Except for Majesty Hymns, of course. Majesty Hymnal can’t die soon enough as far as I’m concerned.

    Yet there are some good songs that leak out from small sectors of the Body of Christ to the rest of us. This one seems to me to have some potential, especially if you don’t try to market it and get rich!

    Then, again, it may not pass the test of time or even get sung outside the circle of your friends. If that is the case there is still no loss: it has been a blessing already.


  10. I’m chuckling at my “Parvot.” How in the world that came out that way, I have not idea. Arvo Part is who I was thinking of.

  11. Bob, I’m very appreciative of many of Getty’s songs. The Power of the Cross is probably my favorite. Our choir sang it yesterday. How Deep is very nice, too.

    He manages, IMO, to be expressive without being sappy. And Townend writes some beautiful, doctrinally rich texts. So yes, I take it as a compliment (particularly for Greg), and I have no intention of stoning you. Scott may, though. :)

    Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. Praise the Lord!

    Which SG song are you thinking of, Scott?

  12. BTW, the MIDI file may work better if you access it from here.

  13. I have appreciated your hymns. I thought of “His Robes for Mine” on Sunday when I got to teach on Christ’s righteousness from Philippians 3:8. Shame on me for not having it memorized or pasted in my Bible so I could share it with the others.

    Blessings on your future projects,


  14. “In Christ Alone”

  15. Two statements by Bob, I think, need a comment or two. (Note that these comments don’t have direct relation to Chris’s hymn necessarily).

    Bob said: “I am not an expert on music or hymns, but I often disagree with the experts because I don’t think they listen to congregations pastorally.”

    It is exactly because I try to listen both pastorally and musically that I don’t prefer many of the Getty/SG hymns (I don’t think they are from the pit of hell, by the way). Most of the popular ones that I have heard “our” churches begin to sing are not very congregational at all, IMHO. “In Christ Alone” is very difficult to sing for the average Joe. Their setting of “Before the Throne” (a text we sing often to a better tune) has a range very unmanageable for average people. I agree with Bob that a good hymn must be accessible to the congregation. It therefore must have a steady, somewhat predictable rhythm and harmonic progression (without slipping into triviality) and an accessible range (while not wallowing in the throat tones). Most of what I hear coming out of SG fails those tests.

    With that said, Bob commented, “Therefore, good hymns have got to be written in a language the people sing.”

    Here I disagree, if I understand what Bob is getting at. If the people in our churches are immersed in sinful pop culture (of the likes of Led Zeplin perhaps?), or are striving to remove themselves from it, should we use the language that they know, or should we be trying to give them a new language of expression to the Lord? If their language is contrary to right spiritual expression or unable to express right affection for the Lord, than I argue that it is the Church’s responsibility to teach them a new language.

    So while I agree that hymns must be congregational and accessible, I do not agree that we need to use musical languages with which our people are comfortable. We’ve got it backwards. It should be our goal to make our people comfortable with what is good and beautiful — that which enables true worship in spirit and truth.

  16. Because I must be brief:

    1. I agree with your criticism of what you think I said.
    2. I don’t agree that “In Christ Alone” is hard to sing congregationally. Thus, thousands of congregations sing it with gusto.
    3. I agree that many of the SG songs are not very congregational.
    4. I don’t agree that (as you seem to imply) a culture can be afflicted with a language that is utterly inadequate for Gospel reception and Gospel response. We don’t go into an African village and teach them English. We use their language, as inadequate as it is, and expand, improve, and (in some cases) change. Musically, it is the same way.

    For example, a lot of Getty’s music is very accessible musically to congregations such as mine even though we use it minus drums and guitars. Do I think it is in and of itself sufficient? Of course not. But do I think it is morally wrong? Of course not.

    Your argument that the Getty music is not congregationally accessible flies in the face of the facts. The evidence is that congregations love it. The new tune to “Before the Throne of God,” for example, is better for our language. I heard the young people at Mount Calvary use that tune instead of the older tune. My sources tell me that it is a much-loved tune.


    Because the new tune is their language.

    To say that we have to approach the culture in their language is not a capitulation to LZ culture. And there may only be a very limited part of their language that we can use but, starting there, we can expand, add and beautify their language. Linguists tell how many tribal languages don’t even have words for hope, love, and joy, etc. Truly, the language is inadequate, but you can still reach people in their language even as you plan on expanding it to deepen their Christian experience and knowledge.

    I think of music in the same way.

  17. I agree and disagree with Bob and Scott.

    As Scott said, we need to be developing tastes within the church, not just reflecting them. Now, I may not agree with him on what that looks like, but I think he’s right, at least to a degree.

    That said, Greg and I want our music to be accessible (not Led Zeppelin, but not necessarily Bach, either), appropriate for the text and intentionally expressive—hopefully not in a trendy or shallow sense, but in a way that heightens the congregation’s awareness of what they’re singing. And I agree, Bob, that Greg has done a nice job of doing that with this song.

    As for modern tunes, I agree with Scott, that In Christ Alone is not as congregational-friendly as some others, say How Deep the Father’s Love or Kauflin’s very simple The Gospel Song. (And BTW, Scott, I don’t see the similarity you suggested.) But Before the Throne of God? I can’t imagine a better tune than Vickie Cook’s. I love it. Our congregation loves it.

    Of course, they also love How Sweet and Awesome and Arise My Soul, Arise. Many, many old tunes are exactly right; accessible need not mean “new.” (We don’t get too stoked for In the Garden, though. Sorry, Bob.)

    Obviously, there is a pretty large degree of subjectivity regarding what we all appreciate. I’m okay with that. (Ducking.)

    Last thing: not every song The Wilds & SF put out is my favorite, but I think they’ve provided many really edifying things for the church, especially their versions of songs like Before the Throne, Almighty Father, How Deep, etc. They’re not afraid to borrow the best of what is being written “out there,” but they’re also leaning on “local talent” like Dan Forrest and Dave Rasbach (who I think are amazing). I’m actually very encouraged by what I’m hearing. I think the Colemans have been great for SF, and I’m guessing that their philosophy is probably very much like my own.

    Thanks for the interaction.

  18. “I agree and disagree with Bob and Scott.”

    My sentiments exactly.

  19. I don’t think “In Christ Alone” is particularly unsingable for a congregation. We sing it all the time. Our biggest problem is that we forget to capo up a couple of steps so it starts down in the basement, so “alone” is sometimes the first thing that gets heard. It is perhaps not as singable as others, perhaps, but definitely not unsingable. And to me (notice the existential nature of my argument), it is hard to beat doctrinally speaking. I think the same of Before the Throne. I love “How Deep the Father’s Love.” I don’t like In the Garden (although my wife had a great one going until my back deal; more tomatoes than we could eat). So I agree with someone, but I am not sure who. Someone help me out here …

    Chris, It would be nice if you could get your hymns with the guitar chords included in the PDF. Perhaps you could make two versions … one for me and one for those who think guitars are sinful. That way, I wouldn’t have to do the chording myself and then try to figure out my scratching in the middle of playing. My poor writing skills, combined with my love for singing, and my questionable guitar hacking makes for some interesting sounds sometimes. I generally try to blame on those who don’t include the chords in the songs I want to sing with guitar.

    While I am here, You should consider getting a new tune to “His Robes For Mine.” My wife commented on how much she loves the song but doesn’t think it fits the tune. I would like very much to make my wife happy and would appreciate any help you could give. (I like it either way but wouldn’t mind a new tune.)

  20. I disagree with Larry. I don’t know why, but it just seems like a wise thing to do.

    Joking aside, pal, how’s your back? I heard you had surgery. Is that right?

    I like In Christ Alone. A lot. Especially the text. I just think the oft-repeated tune & rhythm that carries the words “He is my light” in the first verse is a bit herky-jerky. I’m not offended by it, I just think it’s not particularly easy to sing. Obviously, millions disagree. And you’re right—the doctrinal content, especially of verses 2 and 3, is awesome.

    As for guitar chords, I’d love to make that available. I just don’t know how to do it (a) musically or (b) technically. If someone wants to do it as a labor of love (in other words, for free), that would be great. Anyone? Anyone?

    As for His Robes for Mine, I agree and disagree with Jan. I think it fits with “Eventide,” but I also think having an original tune may help it, as long as the tune is “just right.” We’re working on it.

  21. I’m glad to see that everyone is disagreeing to agree disagreeably. The blogosphere is mellowing.

  22. I disagree. I think we are agreeing to disagree agreeably.

  23. I did have surgery and am recovering, slowly. It is a tough life, laying on the couch all day.

  24. […] files for My Jesus Fair are available here. Posted in Ministry Resources, The Gospel, The Hymn […]

  25. […] so I could hear the special music that preceded the afternoon message: a gorgeous rendering of My Jesus Fair. I was moved to tears, especially to hear the strong tenor voice belt out that “the Lamb […]

  26. Some idiot made the following comments:

    In Christ Alone is not as congregational-friendly as some others.”

    And then…

    “I like In Christ Alone. A lot. Especially the text. I just think the oft-repeated tune & rhythm that carries the words “He is my light” in the first verse is a bit herky-jerky. I’m not offended by it, I just think it’s not particularly easy to sing.”

    Those are two of the dumber sentences ever posted here. We’re singing it as our hymn of the month, and our body is singing it very easily and fervently. And the text? Wonderful.

    That commenter needs to get a clue.

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