New, Popular, & Undiscovered Songs: a response

AsAPastorJust a few weeks ago my friend & fellow worship pastor, Chris Vacher, published a thought-provoking blog: “Thoughts on New Songs, Popular Songs, & Undiscovered Songs“, which has also been edited & republished over at TWC. In it he states that we should generally consider using the more popular worship songs because “…the reason that songs become popular and are sung around the world is that there are very talented songwriters who understand the craft of songwriting and have put together these various elements in a way that allows people of every musical skill level to sing as an expression of their worship to Jesus.” Though I have nothing against talented songwriters, I don’t necessarily agree with the first half of the blog.

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The Real Reason we do not Sing

WhyWeDoNotSingThere has been much talk across the blogosphere this week on a topic I’m thankful is being discussed: the struggle to get a church to actually participate in corporate singing.  The conversations was begun – a few months ago – by Jamie Brown in “Are we headed for a Crash?”  Good observations.  Leading to helpful responses by David Santisteven and Dan Wilt, both of whom made some very good points.  More recently, the Kenny Lamm of the North Carolina Baptist association has chimed in on the subject as well. Having led worship in a wide variety of churches – from traditional a cappella hymn singing to free-form, “Spirit-led”, 3 1/2 hour charismatic praise, and everything in between – I’m familiar with the problem.  All it takes is one Sunday morning service with the room staring back at you, uttering not-a-peep, for us to go home contemplative, asking, “What did I do WRONG?”  That said, though they make many good points, I’m not convinced any of the fore-mentioned blogs gets to the heart of the matter.  Here’s why…
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Christmas Song Tutorials for the Church: “Mary did you Know?”

MaryI explained a bit about what this series is about in my last post POSTED HERE, so I won’t retread new ground, however I’m sure a few of you are puzzled: “Mary did you Know?” has been floating around for just under a quarter of a century! However, it’s a classic that moves my heart, & one that has some tricky spots for inexperienced musicians/worship leaders.

This tutorial video has two parts:

  1. A short intro & song demonstration and…
  2. A short breakdown of a few specific simplification strategies.

 Watch the video for more information:

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On-Air Interview at Victory 91.5 in Atlanta

logoOne of my favorite radio stations is Victory 91.5 out of Atlanta. I fell in love with them while passing through Atlanta, toying with the radio dial: I heard a song by IHOP artist Misty Edwards on the radio. That is NOT so common. Followed by a mainstream Chris Tomlin tune. “Wow, that’s quite a mix“, I thought to myself. Then – BAM – a really incredible unsigned indie worship band out of Atlanta. I was hooked. [Read more…]

Songs of Thanksgiving: a short guide

GiveThanksSometimes the special seasons of church life can also be the most frustrating to plan for both a challenge & a blessing. Church attendance surges, but you don’t want to rehash the same set from last year, and the year before… and the year before that.

Well, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, & I have a few song suggestions, all of which are doctrinally rich, melodically memorable, work in multiple styles (lead them as ballads on a piano with a choir, or rock them out with a band) & sure to be a “win” with your congregations. [Read more…]