15

The First Place (Colossians 1:15-20)

Scripture References

Quoted or directly alluded to:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Stanza 1 – Jesus the “perfect picture of the unseen God” reminds us of John 14:9-14
When stanza 2 names Christ the firstborn, we think of I Corinthians 15:20-28; when he is called the bridegroom, we think of a passage such as John 3:27-30, one among many references to Jesus as the bridegroom.
15

The First Place (Colossians 1:15-20)

Assurance

Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation;
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—
all things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross.
—from Colossians 1:15-20, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Our world, broken and scarred, still belongs to God,
who holds it together and gives us hope.
With the whole creation we join the song:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
He has made us a kingdom of priests to serve our God,
and we will reign on earth.
God will be all in all, righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new, and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God. Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus!
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 17, 58
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

An Acclamation
 
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God.
All things have been created through him and for him.
He himself is before all things.
In him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church,
so that he might come to have first place in everything.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
15

The First Place (Colossians 1:15-20)

Tune Information

Name
THE FIRST PLACE
Key
D Major
Meter
irregular

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

The music complements the text perfectly, with simple chords and a low-range melody in the verses that are answered by the expanded range and energy of the refrain. The song is best accompanied by a praise band, but can also effectively be led by just piano or guitar.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 83)
— Greg Scheer

“The First Place” is a recasting of Colossians 1:15-20, portraying Christ’s reign over heaven, earth and our hearts. After establishing the supremacy of Christ in the verses, the refrain bursts into the Kuyperian exclamation, “Every inch of this universe belongs to you, O Christ.” The refrain concludes with personal application “So you must have in all things the first place”—that is, if Christ’s supremacy is displayed throughout all creation, certainly he should also reign in our lives. The music complements the text perfectly, with simple chords and a low-range melody in the verses that are answered by the expanded range and energy of the refrain. The song is best accompanied by praise band, but can also effectively be led by just piano or guitar. The song’s composer, Matthew Westerholm, is a graduate of Trinity International University. Westerholm was on worship ministry staff at Harvest Bible Chapel when he wrote this and has since joined the faculty of Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
— Greg Scheer

Song Combination

This is an intentional pairing of the contemporary with the traditional that can serve a diverse congregation well. Combine the contemporary hymn, Lift Up Your Hearts #15 “The First Place”, with the traditional hymn, Lift Up Your Hearts #17 “Beautiful Savior.”
 
Instrumentation suggestion:
  • Use piano, guitar, or praise band for accompaniment with “The First Place,” and seamlessly add the organ on “Beautiful Savior.” Drop whatever instruments do not play well with the organ (electronic bass, drums, etc.).
Interlude:
  • No interlude or introduction to “Beautiful Savior” is needed to connect these two songs. A praise band (or contemporary instruments) should play through to the end of “The First Place,” then add one measure—4 beats of a Bb7 chord—walking the bass notes up on beats 3 and 4 (C, D), and go right into the first measure of “Beautiful Savior.” 
— Diane Dykgraaf
15

The First Place (Colossians 1:15-20)

Hymn Story/Background

This setting of Colossians 1:15-20 exalts the supremacy of Christ, the firstborn of all creation as well as the firstborn from the dead and the One in whom all things hang together. The refrain proclaims the theme of the Lordship of Christ over the entire universe by referencing an often quoted phrase from the writing of Abraham Kuyper, the famous Dutch theologian, writer, and statesman, who wrote that “every inch” of creation belongs to Christ. 
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

Greg Scheer (b. 1966) has composed hundreds of pieces, songs and arrangements. His music is published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA, Abingdon Press, Worship Today, Faith Alive and in numerous hymnals. He has won commissions from the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Iowa Composers Forum, Linn-Mar High School String Orchestra, Chagall String Quartet and Northwestern College. His electronic piece, "Crossfade," was included on the CD ...from everlasting to everlasting... His string quartet "6" was featured on WQED in Pittsburgh and was also a winning composition in the 2000 Southeastern Composers' Symposium. His hymn "People of the Lord" won the Calvin09 hymn contest and was subsequently sung and published internationally.
— Greg Scheer

Author and Composer Information

Matthew Westerholm is a pastor, composer, pianist, and educator, currently serving as Pastor for Worship and Music at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Before moving to Minneapolis, he was Director of Worship Arts and Dean of the Chapel at Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan., and before that, worship pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadow, Illinois. He holds a BA in church music and music from Trinity International University (1997), an MA in Systematic Theology, summa cum laude from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (2012), and hopes to complete a PhD in Christian worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2016. He contributed an arrangement for Headley’s album Audience of One, which won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album.
 
In 2012, Matthew received the Baker Book House Award. Matthew Westerholm co-published a chapter with Joel Beeke in “A Pruitan Theology: Doctrine for Life.” He also has published an article, “The ‘Cream of Creation’ and the ‘Cream of Faith’: The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Assurance in Puritan Thought.”
— Emily Brink
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.



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