Song Selection

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by JuneauMike, May 22, 2019.

  1. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    This was just sent out to all musicians at our church. I thought I'd post it here for discussion purposes. BTW, I don't object to anything in this letter. Or at least, I don't object strongly enough to say so. ;)
     

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  2. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    When thought through adequately, the topic(s) that are addressed in this paper are actually quite complex. I personally agree with most of what is contained there for as far as it goes. I will say, however, that it is overly simplistic for the topics it addresses.

    I recently challenged our worship pastor to write a description/definition of what corporate worship is. Try it some time. I would suggest that if it is not a really difficult challenge, you are not thinking deep enough. I find it is an exceptionally challenging task to define, and to think about, this topic adequately.

    In this context what is the role of a band? Are the vocalists, who are "leading", a part of the band? Does the band lead the congregation, or is your goal for the congregation to step up, and in essence become part of the band? Do you really need words (all of the time) to worship, and if you do, what do they have to express? I personally find the question of why we (at least in the culture I find myself in) think of singing when we talk about corporate worship. Some liturgical church bodies will certainly add in liturgy, but even they will likely include singing as some part of corporate worship.

    We have an entire biblical book of songs in the Psalms, and they do not promote worship solely with the voice nor do they say that the Lyre must be careful to not be too boisterous so as to momentarily overwhelm the singing. Is singing really actually worship? Or, is Worship something else entirely that can happen as a part of music and/or singing?

    The one thing I disagree with most is that I don't think that singing is necessarily worship. At least in my way of thinking, singing is not the only relevant form of corporate worship, and to me it is not even close to the most important expression of corporate worship.
     
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  3. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Tele-Afflicted

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    Food for thought.
     
  4. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Well, its a document that has to cover a lot of ground so general is better than specific. If it has weaknesses, they are probably in areas where it gets too prescriptive. And ultimately the worship leaders make the decisions about song selection so my first impression was that this is a perfectly acceptable guiding document.

    If there's anything I'd take issue with in this is the deference that it gives to hymns, of which I am not a fan. I find some of them hard to sing along with, the music can have an unusual time signature or the pacing is out of step with popular song structures, and they are written in a vernacular that isn't used anymore. That's last point is not a small one, the message can't always be absorbed immediately, it requires effort to unpack and analyzed meaning, which is not an exercise people often engage when it comes to music. Imagine if your pastor just began delivering his sermons in Old English? The message will still be in there, and it may very well be a true and correct one, but there would be an impediment to our understanding of it. Some of the data could get lost in the exchange.

    I think people who grew up in the church are oriented towards holding hymns as something sacred or special, they have the cache of a tradition. But at the end of the day they are just P&W from a bygone era. I like some of them, but I don't think they should necessarily get a pass because they have been grandfathered into the church. I really love some of those groups who have taken the effort to modernize hymns, I pretend that they see the same problems that I do in hymns. IMO.

    If one were to be really legalese, you could even use this document to question why we have a bell choir. They most certainly are a "performance" and a hugely popular one at our church. The applause is thunderous when they finish a performance. ;)

    I appreciate the attempt to codify what our experienced worship leaders have been doing all along.
     
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  5. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    I just show up and play what our MD picks out. Because I have read here, I have learned how much goes into her selection...

    She searches the readings for text that goes together with the lyrics. We arrange for length. Although we play some "contemporary" music, there's words we must change: "yeah" is one. Sometimes there's familiarity for everyone else. I haven't been with this very long with this parish, but I have seen some of the contemporary songs "codified" into the big book....keys were changed, some arrangements altered. It's very complicated. We're not allowed to play some of the tunes I grew up with...of course we went to my father in laws funeral and at a different parish, they played all the "greatest hits".

    In our case, we accompany the service. Music is not the focus as it seems it is for some posters here.
     
  6. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I suspect we emphasize music as the focus here more than our church's do in their planning meetings. But that's just a guess. Thanks for posting. It seems like its pretty sleepy around here lately. Good to hear from folks.
     
  7. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Today, I was just talking to a guitar player buddy that I play with at, and away from, church. We were talking about key selection as being often overlooked. We both play with a couple of women who lead vocally from time to time, and it seems like their only criteria for key is whether it is in their wheelhouse. Wrong focus, in my opinion, but it is a recurring theme in our church. I don't think they even wonder why almost no one sings when they lead.
     
  8. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    No, I guess I meant that in some denominations, music is a part of the "draw" to the service. We have music and it's a part of the service, but it's not integral to the way it is in other services that I have read about herein. Our MD is paid, the rest are volunteers.


    Do they sing in a key that is way high and uncomfortable for the congregation? I know that some of the contemporary stuff we do, when codified, came back with a new key for the "average" singers.
     
  9. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Ah yes. I see. Well, we have a traditional and contemporary service and the music for those two services are very very different. I suspect some of the thinking behind that was related to "the draw" since the sermon is exactly the same.
     
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  10. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    I wasn't referring to anything in this thread. Just a general thing I have read in here and elsewhere over the years. As in "if the music is good, people will come for the message..." Or similar. Assuming they weren't already going to attend.

    We've got 1. No music, 2. The big organ, 3. Contemporary wall of acoustic guitars, 4. En Espanol and 5. Youth (which might have electric guitars, not sure...). Any how the readings are all the same.


    The "contemporary" isn't 100% there's one other things mixed in. Delicate balancing act I'm sure.

    I've heard that the acoustic guitars repel some people....only anecdotally. And my wife doesnt care for some of what the MD picks. Can't please everyone.
     
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  11. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, that is definitely a general thing here and elsewhere. I'm guilty of that thinking myself. And you are right, ya can't please everyone. But that doesn't seem to dissuade our Presbyterian sensibilities from trying every week. And twice on Sunday, now that I think about it.

    ;)
     
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  12. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Yep, they do their best Mariah Carey and very few in the congregation can even attempt it. This fits in the considerations in the policy in the OP. Both from the standpoint of singable keys and songs appropriate for congregational singing. We often have songs that violate both rules at once, and even out of those that are in an average and reachable range, there will be many songs that the congregation will just not join in with.
     
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  13. mRtINY

    mRtINY Tele-Afflicted

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    This is the frustrating part.

    I do like having the "performance" pieces - Prelude/Postlude and Offertory - where the congregation doesn't need to sing along. But, I usually try to get people to sing along with the other music - as it's part of the service.... if the congregation sings along with the Offertory and Communion music, it's good.
     
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  14. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    This describes a problem that is actually pretty hard to pin down, because in discussion it often comes down to people debating personal preference. To me, it is more than just personal preference but I've not had a lot of success in talking to the above mentioned women about the songs they pick, and the fact that they are not "congregational worship songs". They disagree, and yet the vast majority of people simply will not sing those songs. I think as a leader it is necessary to observe the people in your congregation and pick songs, and song types that you know they will join in on. This of course is assuming that your goal is to have the congregation sing along.
     
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  15. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

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    In our world, it's expected that they will sing along. Familiarity in that case is key. There's stuff I play now that is familiar after doing it many times; I call it our "greatest hits" but we have a wide variety of stuff we play. In other instances, the MD would teach the congregation the songs if you were there early enough.

    For reference, I see threads like this and it's about as foreign to me as if I went to another country. Very different. Not bad, but different than I what I know.

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/when-it-all-comes-togther-in-a-worship-service.952218/#post-9115417
     
  16. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Do you have any songs that you've done in at least a half dozen different services, and the congregational participation is still less than 20%? That's what I'm talking about. Some songs, just don't work as congregational worship songs. Also, every congregation is different, so what works in one church may not work with another congregation. Especially if you're taking something that works in California, and try to simply put that square peg in the round hole of your conservative congregation in Minnesota, or Ohio. Same goes the other way.
     
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  17. Deeve

    Deeve Friend of Leo's

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    @JuneauMike -
    Thanks for sharing this - the people who bring music to my church have a range of abilities (and motivations).
    Sometimes, this includes me.

    This letter/article can provide some context for upcoming proposals.

    Peace - Deeve
     
  18. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, man. Yeah, I think its another baby step toward being a serious, organized entity and not a sleepy little church in the middle of nowhere.

    And happily, no one with an interest in music and a basic grasp of their instrument gets turned away.

    Feel free to take whatever you find useful from it.
     
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