Song Talks

The Worship Service & Its Many Facets - Part 2

  • Song Talks

Hey ya'll! Last week I attempted to comment on an article that I posted on Facebook regarding a specific church that provided a list of "didn't do's" that affected their congregational singing in a positive way. I didn't get through all ten, so this week I will tackle the last four points.
Point 7 and 9 deal with not "greatly" expanding the song library and the number of songs in a worship service. While I agree that too many songs are just too many, guys in this field differ on an appropriate song diet for the congregation in a given year. This article states 40 to 50 songs. I would disagree. Most guys I know say 200. That seems a bit like overkill to me. So just to give you a gauge, at the 9:30 service since November of last year to November of this year, we have sung 144 different songs. 45 of those songs have been "new" which means that they are new arrangements, not necessarily new chronologically. At 11:00, we have sung 77 songs in the last year and 35 of them have been "new". Each service is averaging about 5 songs per service, which includes the response song at the end of the service.
God has created us a creative people, therefore we create. And in this case, we write LOTS of songs! We certainly have to be selective in our song choice. Sound lyrics should always be the filter by which we choose good songs. But with the sheer number at our fingertips, the possibilities of worshipful expression shouldn't overwhelm us, but encourage us to listen, and all the more for the next great songs we can worship the Lord with. Every congregation will be different as to the number of songs that work or not, so my advice would be to experiment and see what worship language your people speak!
Points 8 and 10 speak to the way we approach the music from a "notes" and arrangement perspective. The sing-ability of a song is vitally important. Choosing the right keys for men and women to sing is pretty difficult. Too high and too low need to be considered. The melodies need to be singable which means I agree with point 8. The melodies need to be easy to follow. In most cases this is true, in some cases, the melodies are almost too easy, which provides for a pretty boring song. So just be aware of where the melodies sit for both men and women and try to adjust your keys accordingly. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. It's best to grab some people and get them in a room and just play through some songs in different keys.
Musical variety is always a good thing. Acapella with a large group of people is usually pretty awesome, with smaller groups, it's a bit awkward if not everyone is a good singer. Again, you have to just know your people. The Sunday morning gathering needs to be focused on the church singing, so fewer solos, vocally and instrumentally, is probably best. A well placed and themed solo can drive people to worship, but the thrust should be on the congregation singing together.
Well, there you have it. Some nuts and bolts on worship planning and strategy. Take it as you will, but each church is different and therefore the worship leader must gear the services to the people in front of him and then focus on stretching them musically. Thanks for reading!

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