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Welcome to the 16th Family Worship Newsletter, 30 April 2000

Previous newsletters are available on the website archives at


With relentless "Humour spots" in-between every item...

FW Site stats
Recent site additions
Coming soon
Story behind the song - Whiter than the snow
Worship and chips
Songwriters' encouragement
Check out...
Newsletter information

FW Site Stats

Subscribers are now over 1,300  - welcome to new subscribers.

Visitors to the site have averaged over 500 a day through April. We were especially pleased to be the number 1 site during April in Premier Radio's top ten Webway directory (Premier is the UK's only terrestrial christian radio station, broadcasting to the London area, and soon to the whole of the UK via satellite, and you can check it out online at

Recent site additions

"Whiter than the snow" is a new song from Family Worship on the theme of forgiveness, and is a tender worship song, ideal for use during Communion (see "Story behind the song" below).
RealAudio and MP3 (streaming and download) and free sheet music available at

The Songwriters' Showcase features a number of new writers this month, including from the UK, Graham O'Leary, Michael Lehr (of the Christian Songwriter's email discussion group fame!) and a wonderful children's songwriter from Argentia, Adriana Figueroa. Check them out, and around 30 other grass roots songwriters from all over the world at

Most of the Family Worship songs are aimed to be accessible for all ages, but we often get requests for songs for very small children. With this in mind, we have added two brand new lullabies to the site. In fact, the tunes are two of the best-known melodies in the world, but the words are new, and make the songs perfect for the under-fives.

Humour spot

A visiting preacher arrived one day at a small country church to find that the only person who had turned up was an old farmer. The preacher asked the farmer if he wanted to hear the sermon, or should they perhaps cancel it for the day?

The farmer thought for a moment, and replied, "If I was carrying a bucket of feed down to the hens and found when I got there that only one of my hens had turned up, I'd still feed her."

Thus encouraged, the preacher, not long out of college, launched into a well-prepared sermon that rambled on for almost an hour. At the conclusion of the service, when they were shaking hands, the preacher enquired of the farmer what he thought about his sermon?

The old farmer pondered for a moment, and replied, "Well, if I was carrying a bucket of feed down to the hens and found when I got there that only one of my hens had turned up, I'd still feed her...but I'd be blowed if I'd give her the whole bucket full!"

Coming soon

Backing tracks for all of the FW songs have always been available, but only on cassette, as previously, the economics of manufacture made it too costly for smaller volumes. As the cost of manufacturing CD's has fallen in recent years, we will shortly be offering CD backing tracks, which will be playable not only as regular CD's, but will also contain MP3 versions of the tracks, and lyric files with guitar chords, making them a complete resource. The CD's should be ready to order by the end of May.

Also available soon: "Teach us to pray" on CD, including backing tracks.

Humour spot

Those of you who have been following the Microsoft anti-trust trial may appreciate this translation of Judge Jackson's 43-page opinion into normal Microsoft language:

"You have performed an illegal operation and will be shut down"

Story behind the song...

This month, "Whiter than the snow" - a new Family Worship song recently included in The Source New Songs compilation, recorded by Alliance Music in Nashville.

Whiter than the snow
Purer than the clearest stream
Wash me and I'll be bathed in purity
I long to feel clean

A robe of righteousness
A robe that I could not afford
My Lord you paid the price
Your perfect sacrifice has covered up my shame

And so I thank you, Jesus
For the sweet forgiveness of the cross
It's a mystery to amaze even angels
That when Father looks into my heart
He sees me now as whiter than the snow

Mike Burn
Copyright 1999 Daybreak Music

I had been wanting to write a song on the subject of forgiveness and holiness for some time, and had parts of the song written, but had been unable to complete it for several months - a classic case of writer's block. The inspiration came when a friend from church returned from a visit Pensacola - a city on the East coast of the USA, where an amazing number of people have been saved and touched by God over the past few years.

He was talking at a prayer meeting about the extraordinary sense of the presence of God there, and how many people spoke of the desire for holiness that it inspired, and they would also speak of being afraid to sin.

The nature of holiness has always intrigued me, and the fact that the colour white is symbolic of holiness is particularly interesting. White, as any child studying physics can tell you, contains every colour of the rainbow, and an object looks the colour that it is because it mainly reflects the light rays of that colour and absorbs the others. Black, on the other hand, is a complete absence of colour.

Holiness, as represented by white, therefore contains the fullness and beauty of every colour of the rainbow - it is a complete thing to be holy, rather than an empty or shallow thing.

The song is a simple expression of thankfulness and wonder that we can be seen as pure and holy when, following the act of repentance and acceptance of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, God no longer sees the black, corrupt hollowness of our hearts but instead sees us as forgiven, cleansed, and holy: truly whiter than snow.

You can listen to this song and download free sheet music at

The Source New Songs is available from Alliance Music

and in the USA & Canada from

Humour spot

Two couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, "Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?"

"Outstanding," Fred replied. "They taught us all the latest psychological techniques: visualisation, association, etc. It was great"

"Wow! And what was the name of the clinic?"

Fred went blank. He thought and thought, but couldn't remember. Then a smile broke across his face and he asked, "What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?"

"You mean a rose?" His friend replied.

"Yes, that's it!" said Fred, turning to his wife, "Rose, what was the name of that memory clinic?"

Worship and chips

It's been said that the UK's only significant contribution to world cuisine has been fish and chips. (I should explain that in the UK, chips are what most of the rest of the world calls fries, and what the USA would call chips, we call crisps. OK?!) As well as with fish, many people like to eat chips with pretty much everything - in school canteens, it is by far and away the most popular lunchtime order.

The church that I belong to, Ichthus Christian Fellowship, has always had a strong emphasis on worship, and someone once observed that worship was to our meetings what chips was to the UK's diet - we have it with everything! Whether it's a service, a prayer meeting, a planning meeting, a coffee morning or a housegroup, worship will always be an important part of the occasion.

I think that it's also healthy principle for individuals that worship should be an integral part of everything that we do. Of course, our whole lifestyle should be that of worship, but some of the activities that we do as part of a corporate act of worship - singing, praying, meditating - could and should find place in our daily routine.

One reason that worship is so crucial is that it has a beneficial effect on all the other activities that we should engage in as christians: the more you worship, the more you will want to pray and read the Bible; the more you worship, the easier it will become to resist temptation; the more you worship, the more you will want to evangelise, and so on.

The saying that if you feel you're too busy to pray, then in fact you're too busy not to pray could equally be applied to worship. Even if it's as simple as playing a worship tape in the car or in the walkman on the way to college or work, or playing one as you do the housework, then it can make a tremendous difference in helping your heart and mind to focus on God, and to meet with him through the day.

Early morning is a great time of course to worship and pray, but personally, I'm not a "morning person". Fortunately, there's a christian bookshop just round the corner from where I work, and at lunchtime I will often pop in there for 20 minutes or so, browse through some books, and soak up the music that they're playing (very occasionally I might even buy something, but they're used to me!). Or, if the weather is good then I'll walk up to the local park and sit by the lake and quietly worship, pray and give thanks to God.

On days when I don't find the time to pray and worship then I know that I am much the poorer for it, and more importantly, I know that as well as saddening God, it has a knock on effect on other people that I come into contact with: I'm far more likely to be short or ungracious with them, and will miss opportunities to bless and show kindness.

So, as you go through the day and engage in various activities, imagine asking yourself a variation on the question that an assistant in a burger restaurant would ask: "Would you like worship with that?"

Humour spot

Tom had proposed to Maureen and was being interviewed by his prospective father-in-law. "Do you think you are earning enough to support a family?" the older man asked the suitor.

"Yes, sir", replied Tom, "I'm sure I am."

"Think carefully now," said Maureen's father "There are five of us"

Songwriter's encouragement

Last month's article on using existing tunes and putting new lyrics to them provoked an interesting response. Opinion  seems to be divided on the question of whether or not secular songs can be used in the context of worship, whether or not they have different lyrics. Can any song be "redeemed"? I have heard of songs like the Beatles "I want to hold your hand" and "She loves you" (changed to "He loves you") being used, and a re-worked version of the Lambada - "Oh Lord I wanna sing your praises" has been popular recently in the UK.

Debate often rages too about the suggestion that William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, took bar tunes of the day and put christian lyrics to them. Some people suggest that it justifies using current popular music and doing the same thing; others argue that it was a myth, or exaggerated, that Booth ever did this, and that it is impossible to take a tune that was originally written to glorify the writer, or to make money, and to then use it to glorify God.

What about classical music? Not all the great composers in history were professing christians, although many were, but for many people, classical music is considered "OK", whereas rock or pop is considered dangerous, whether or not the writers and musicians are christians.

Wherever you sit in the spectrum of opinion on this (and I value retaining newsletter subscribers far too highly to do anything other than sit on the fence for now!), it is always worth examining your own attitude to music, and to ask whether what you listen to, sing or write can be considered as bringing glory to God.

It has been said that music, in our "post modern" society (whatever that means) is a massive social, emotional and economic force. How we handle music is vital to our personal and corporate well-being. A useful scripture in this context is Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him"

It's my firm belief that christian music should be at the forefront of creativity and excellence: we should seek to innovate not imitate. If you're a songwriter, then I encourage you to keep writing as much as you can, to refine and polish the gift that God has given you. It's been suggested that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, and that is just as true of christian music as secular.

In the same way that a great preacher may initially be inspired by a word from God, but will then take hours to study and put context and detail around the word so as to deliver an effective sermon, so a songwriter should take the initial inspiration and then work hard on creating the song to crystallise and present that inspiration in the best possible way.

Humour spot

A young man, hired by a supermarket, reported for his first day of work. The manager greeted him with a warm handshake and a smile, gave him a broom and said, "Your first job will be to sweep out the store"

"But I'm a college graduate." the young man replied indignantly.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know that," said the manager. "Here, give me the broom, I'll show you how..."

Check out...

The Millennium Chorus from Graham Kendrick, featuring singers including Michael W. Smith, Bob Carlisle, Jennifer Holliday and Michael Crawford, is now available in the UK, USA and globally. Check it out at

For UK christians, a new site is gearing up to offer free Internet access, with a proportion of revenue going to support churches and charities. The site will also feature a comprehensive directory to all that's best on the Internet, christian and secular. Should be a good alternative to Freeserve and the other free providers, and you can register for details at

A new site with a wealth of information and resources relating to world mission is at

If you have a website that you would like us to cover in future newsletters, please email

River of Life Discount Christian Bookstore, US distributors for the Family Worship resources are online with a great site featuring an ever-increasing range of worship recordings, songbooks, etc. (including soon, for the first time in the USA, Brown Bear Music) Check it out at

Don't forget that Family Worship, as well as loads of other "grass roots level" ministries are featured in the christian sections of

Newsletter information

This newsletter is written by Mike Burn and is published by Family Worship Resources, part of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, London, UK Copyright 2000, Mike Burn. Inclusion of links and  quotations does not imply full endorsement of the contents. The newsletter may be forwarded or reproduced in full or in part providing that the source is acknowledged.

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Thanks for reading, and if you've made it this far, or even if you just skipped to the end before hitting delete, blessings to you in Jesus' name


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