Sometimes I feel I am complicated. In reality, I am simple but I feel this way when I get overwhelmed by the things going on around me. I have learnt to study myself. I started that recently. I have to go on a voyage of self discovery. I need to understand my deepest thoughts, reasons […]
Cass Langton, Hillsong
If you have the privilege of finding yourself on a worship team in a church responsible for the music on a Sunday, there are some very simple things you can do to make life easier on your worship pastor or leader… Here are just a few of them
1. Learn the parts
Don’t waste your team’s time — prepare beforehand on your own time and come ready to rehearse! Know the songs, know the arrangements and be ready to contribute at a higher level — warm up if you are a vocalist, tune up if you play an instrument, etc.
2. Turn up. On time!
As musicians and singers, it’s so easy to think you’ve done the right thing by showing up at all… that song that was running around your head sidetracked you, those lyrics you had to memorise, the latest song that just downloaded to your iTunes account that you just had to stop and listen to…
The truth is though, as a musician you play on a team… there’s no room for lone rangers or late-comers. Respect others enough to turn up when you should and where you should — be punctual! And if you have gear to set up, then arrive earlier! It won’t go unnoticed.
3. Take lessons
No matter how good you are, keep pushing the ceiling and keep getting better! Not just in your leadership and Christian discipleship but in your skill, technique and musicianship — make every effort to bring your very best every time you play and sing!
No matter how good you are, keep pushing the ceiling and keep getting better!
4. Cultivate a ‘can do’ attitude
Try and be one of those people who sees possibility rather than obstacles. Find ways of being able to say ‘yes’, to go the extra mile and to inject yourself into the team. If there are new songs, new ways of doing things, new members to come along side — say ‘yes’ as your default, not ‘no way’… it’s so much easier on your leader!
Be willing to listen to feedback after services and be committed to continuous improvement! Highlight what others have done well and work on your own shortcomings.
6. Love Jesus
As Christians, prioritise your relationship with the Lord! Be someone who brings depth and authenticity to the platform. Be ready to encourage others — know what God’s challenging you on and be willing to lead pre-service prayer meetings and behind the scenes. Developing spiritual maturity means you will become someone your leaders can count on!
As Christians, prioritise your relationship with the Lord! Be someone who brings depth & authenticity to the platform
7. Dig for gold
Help others to see the gifts in themselves. Champion others and look for people in your church who could contribute to the worship team. There’s nothing better than to help people see the talents that God has entrusted to them and help them unearth their potential!
8. Worship off the platform
When you are sitting in a service, be the type of person who leads worship from your seat! Don’t sit back judging what’s happening but engage in worship like you’d expect the congregation to do if you were leading!
9. Be helpful
Think about what it takes to make Sundays happen — photocopying, admin, roster confirmations, communication, setting the stage, etc — and then be proactive to do what you need to do quickly! e.g. confirm your rostered positions and offer to help in other areas if and when you have time.
10. Bring food to rehearsals
Everything’s better with coffee… Or cake… Or chips or chocolate or kale juice… Bring something to share and keep actively building creative community!!
I’m sure there’s a hundred more things we could add to this list, but this is a good start for now
Why don’t you take some time and reflect on which of these things you’re good at and which ones you might need to grow in? You and your worship team will be better for it, I promise!!
By Ben Fielding, Hillsong Worship
In John 4:24, Jesus expresses the often reiterated words “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth”. As writers that place words in the mouth of the Church, we must be committed to discovering and expounding truth. The Church needs to sing the bible. Our words and thoughts are important, but they must be grounded in a higher authority. All of the songs we sing in church now go through a lyric approval process to test and critique the theological accuracy of our songs – this is incredibly important for us. All of the great hymns and influential contemporary songs have strong echoes or verbatim usage of scripture. Don’t forget Jesus! He said that He was the “way, the truth and the life”. True Christian worship must involve the reality and centrality of Jesus.
The great lyrical tutor Pat Paterson describes a well written lyric as one which could be naturally spoken. Following that analogy with phrasing and metaphor is also helpful. A clunky or long phrase that is difficult or awkward to say will be difficult to sing. Then one must consider melodic structure and range. Cleary the more achievable and perhaps narrow the range, the more likely the song can be comfortably sung by both men and women, and the less proficient vocalists among us.
Just as authenticity is important in the words that we write aligning with the way we live, so to it is important that what we are singing/saying musically aligns. A lyric about the awful brutality of the crucifixion will not readily be placed to a bright and bouncing melody. Prosody is about writing a lyric and melody that feels authentic. Does the melody want to say what the lyric is saying?
One of the most common traps in songwriting is not providing enough contrast within a song. Light and shade provides ongoing interest. Perhaps the melody in the verse is spacious, descending and narrow.. If this leads into a chorus that is also spacious, descending and narrow, the song will tire quickly. Hooks become very important. Each section of the song should have a hook or its own personality (preferably an affable and charismatic one). There should be something to look forward to in each section of the song. We need to get the balance right without overdoing it. Continuity is the counterbalance to contrast. We often sing the same songs in our churches for years. So we need to try to write interesting and robust melodies that can stand up to years of road-testing.
Another common trap is the desire to summarise each book of the bible in every song. (I guess this is still better than no semblance of biblical reference). But our goal should be that each song has its own theme and unique articulation. We should be able to succinctly explain what the song is specifically about. Sometimes even beautiful and brilliant lyrics get lost in a song that has no clear thematic direction.
By way of example, Reuben and I wrote a song called “Stronger”. The song is about the strength of the cross and resurrection to make us right before God (redemption and resurrection). The initial verse lyric read “You defend the innocent”, the final lyric being “You’re my hope and my defence“.. Both are true, though as pointed out by Robert Fergusson (who is the gate-keeper of lyrical integrity), in the thematic context, the later is more true, or at least makes more sense. When talking about the fact that outside of Christ we are all guilty, it is out of place to refer to the defence of the innocent.. In that context, none of us are innocent except Christ Himself. Without further labouring the example. Hopefully you see the point. Theme matters greatly. Again, look at all of the great songs that have stood the test of time – they invariably have a strong theme and consistent message.