Tag Archive | encouragement

Talking Not Required

One of the challenges every worship leader faces is knowing when to talk and how much to say. My personal preference is to err on the side of saying nothing, but for many, a few words throughout the service helps them engage. On the other hand, too many words make for a very distracting worship time.

Today, I’m proposing there is another way to communicate during worship without stopping the music and talking. Singing. Yep, that’s right. Aren’t we already singing? Yes, but the singing I’m suggesting is a sung version of what you would otherwise say. A spontaneous song. It’s possible to phrase your thoughts in such a way that instead of being an exhortation to the congregation only, it is also a response to God.

Below is a link to an example of what I’m describing from our worship service at The Well. Skip ahead to 35:00 on the play bar if you don’t want to listen to the sermon (which was very good). The spontaneous song starts at 35:39. Listen for the spontaneous chorus (37:07) I use to end the song and help the congregation respond to the message.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 at The Well

What did you think? How would you use this technique?

Spontaneous Choruses

Spontaneous choruses. What are they and how do you use them? First the name is rather self-explanatory. A spontaneous chorus is a chorus which is written and sung in the moment without rehearsal. Developing spontaneous choruses is a skill that comes very naturally to some people. If that’s not you, don’t worry, you can learn how to write and use them effectively. Another option is to delegate chorus writing to a capable vocalist on your team.

As with choruses from existing songs, our spontaneous ones need three things: melody, lyric and a chord progression. Typically, we will borrow an existing chord progression from the song we are singing before the spontaneous chorus. This isn’t always the case, but it is easiest and you need to tell your team if you are planning to use something different. An example of a good chord progression is: C  G  Am  F or I  V  vi  IV. It has a circular motion and is simple enough to create many memorable melodies.

When it comes to melody, we must think of structure. A good melody is easy enough to remember. Catchy is another word that describes good melodies. Spontaneous choruses with hard arduous melodies are not fun for anyone. So in our structure, we must incorporate some repetition. Too much and it will be boring. Too little and will be unfocused. An example of good repetition can be found in the melodic structure we call question and answer.

As children we were taught to raise the inflection of our voice when asking a question. The same is true with this type of melody. The first line ends on a high note (a question). To answer the question we can repeat the melody only ending on a low note instead. Hum the tune Mary had a Little Lamb to yourself. Notice the question and answer structure. What other songs can you think of having a similar melodic structure? We can also call this type of melody: AB.

Following the AB line of thinking, we could create many other melodic structures like: AAAB or ABAC or ABCABC. Be creative and recognize what works well. We will use this same structure for lyrics too. Here’s an example of AAAB:

You are good

You are good

You are good

And Your mercy endures

The first three lines are the same. Same words. Same melody. Only the fourth line is different. This is an example of good repetition with just enough variety. Try creating your own melody with the lyrics and chord progression above.

Moving on to lyrics, scripture is very helpful. Something extremely profound happens when singing the Word. It gets caught in the human spirit and renews the mind. The other consideration is discerning what God is saying in the moment during worship. Holy Spirit will bring scriptures or other words and ideas to our minds if we are listening. Use those thoughts to create a spontaneous chorus.

Now you might be feeling overwhelmed if you’ve never done this before. That’s okay. Give it some time. Meanwhile, you can practice your chorus writing ability with this baby step: modify an existing chorus to express a new meaning. An example of this could be the old chorus I Exalt Thee. Change the “I” to “we”. It’s not a big change, but it could be spontaneous and bring a stronger sense of community to the corporate worship setting.

Another example, singing the chorus from How Great is Our God, change “is our” to “are You”. How great are You God // Lord we sing, how great are You God // and all will sing, how great, how great are You God. This change redirects the focus from singing about God to singing to Him. There are many songs that you could try these two changes on. Practice with those first before trying to launch into a truly spontaneous chorus.

Spontaneous choruses can be used during or in-between songs in worship. Incorporating them into your leading will bring a new dimension of worship and greater awareness of God’s presence and involvement.

Thoughts? Questions?

 

An Invitation

While generally, as worship leaders, we are prepared and ready to roll when the service starts, many of our congregants may not be ready at all. I’m certain at some point in your life you have experienced “Sunday morning craziness” to a degree. Often, it seems like when we finally make time to worship, pray, read or study the Bible, all sorts of things come up. Arguments with our spouses, aggravation from our kids, accusations in our thoughts about ourselves and our actions. More likely than not, these elements are distracting and weighty even to the point of paralyzing our ability to freely worship God.

A typical response is to run from God in that moment or try to hide these things from Him.

So, here’s the challenge: learn to see all of those distracting, annoying, condemning thoughts as an invitation. An invitation to get free from all the dirt that stuck to your feet on the way in. An invitation to let Jesus wash your feet.

The reality is: you’re clean, you’re good to go, Jesus paid the debt that you owed and His blood was enough. Life happens and our feet get dirty along the way, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying God in worship. Cast all of those cares, fears, concerns and any other baggage weighing you down on Him. Do it right away. Release it. Let go. Surrender to His overwhelming love for you.

Whatever comes to the surface of your heart and mind, give it to God as part of your worship. We need not suffer any shame in His presence. No embarrassment here. Only life, peace and joy.

As worship leaders, part of our responsibility is to help those gathered in worship to understand this invitation. Corporate worship is always better when people are free.

Are you familiar with this invitation? What are some ways you have helped others to take it?

Release Your Song

If you’re a worship leader, musician or songwriter (or you really want to be one), this blog is for you.  I’m here to encourage your gifts and speak life to your destiny. In pleasure, God created you and wrote you into His story. Like a sweet melody or harmony, or even just a funky rhythm, you are apart of redemption’s song.

More than worship, the Father is looking for worshipers. Those who will know Him and be fully known. Those who will love Him with everything.

So release the worship God placed in your heart. Release the music He has crafted into your being. Release your emotions, your sound and your voice.

Release your song.