Many of our congregational worship songs simply aren’t congregationally singable in their original format, and if you change the format, the song just doesn’t work at all. Now I’m not saying we should get rid of creative arrangements, but I am saying that if the goal of worship song writing is to truly serve the church at large first, then all involved in the production and promotion of worship songs should take more of an active role in showing the average volunteer worship team how to make their songs more congregationally singable, playable and useable. Read full article
There seems to be a natural conflict / friction between worship songs to resource the church and worship songs to primarily be listened to, either on a recording or played live by a highly rehearsed and highly resourced band.
The CCM industry prioritises elements such as production, arrangement, song originality and vocal performance in order to take it's place alongside other genres of music, but these elements do not automatically tick the boxes required for resourcing the 'average' church. The elements generally required for resourcing the church are more about accessibility, singability, theme content and playability.
Sometimes all these elements converge wonderfully but more often than not, and especially nowadays as commercial music trends influence highly, it is up to the song selectors in churches and worship teams to be able to :
a) Tell the difference between a great song to listen to and a great song for YOUR congregational use. Usually experience sharpens our discernment, so make a note of what works and what doesn't and why.
b) Learn how to best 'cover' the more demanding songs that are possible and you think fit your church journey and negotiate key changes, structure transitions in order to make them playable and singable
c) Bank those songs that really will not work in your current context and with your current team...no shame there...just sensible reasoning. The intrinsic song ingredients like octave shifts, complex patterns, weaving vocals and soaring guitar solos may render the song not possible.
The term 'Caveat Emptor' comes to mind. In the consumer context this is a concept to warn buyers to examine, judge and test a product before purchasing. I think we should use this process when choosing songs for congregational purposes...let the song selectors do some caveat emptor-ing before using and releasing them onto congregations.
There are myriads of songs to chose from so look around and maybe even write some yourself that fits your situation, fits your church journey and fits your worship team.
How do you choose the songs for people to sing?