How many songs do you do at your church?
I had a conversation with some guys recently who had a song list of 157 songs. That’s heaps! They were concerned that the congregation would get bored if they sang the same songs lots. At church we have probably a cycle of about thirty songs.
The benefit of having less is that you can be well practised in them. So the band at Nite church no longer need chord charts. We only use charts for new songs.
The benefit of lots of songs is that there are lots to choose from, but I see it more as a lot of excess songs that you shouldn’t play. What do you think? More or less?
TWIST was good. I was only there for three hours on Saturday though. I was setting up for a workshop so missed most of the main session so don’t listen to my opinions.
I did have a good time in the workshop. Jon Baldwin and I led a session on teaching new songs to the congregation. It was fun. Lots of people had good ideas to share and it was a really productive time.
Main points I think could be gleaned from the workshop would be:
- there are more than one way to teach a song and different songs require different ways of teaching them.
- Be enthusiastic and confident or you will never get your church to enjoy the song.
- Be directive with your band and the congregation (this can mean that you sound a bit like a teacher sometimes eg. ‘lets go over that bit again cos I don’t think you got it’, but it will pay off in the long run)
It was great hearing a bunch of music leaders having a go at this and I was encouraged by a lot of the delegates there.
I also had heaps of good chats with different people that I found encouraging. Overall although I could only be there for a short time, it was a good time nonetheless.
I’m off to TWIST this morning. Maybe I’ll see you there.
We are un-teaching ourselves grace
On the weekend we sung a new rewrite of an old hymn called ‘Before Jehovah’s awful throne’. It’s by Isaac Watts and the new version could be online sometime soon.
It got me thinking again about why we teach Hymns to a modern congregation. Don’t we have enough people writing praise choruses without going back to the old stuff? A freind of mine told me that he doesn’t understand why our church does hymns because surely people can’t relate to something that says ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in it. It seems that singing hymns needs some kind of explanation. I reckon there are heaps of reasons why we should still sing hymns. Heres just one of them. (I haven’t written about this stuff for a while so I thought it would be apt. Sorry if you have heard me talk about this stuff lots. I will continue to do it.)
Modern Praise Choruses are filled with longing and promises: “I want to worship you” “I will sing of your love forever” “Here I am to worship” “Lord we want to bow before your throne” Some are quite explicit vows: “I make a vow that I will always honour Christ whether I live or die”.
As you look through the songs that we sing we are obsessed with promising things to God. We will love him more, we will worship him harder, we will be fired up everyday of our lives.
I wonder if with all this promising and longing, we are teaching ourselves that we need to work for our salvation. We need to prove something to God. I think that there is a place for making some sort of vow to God or for expressing a longing to serve him, but to quote Kevin Twit
, ‘a constant diet of promise songs leave you spiritually immature’.
Compare this to the Christian life seen in the hymns. I will take Rock of Ages as an example because it is so well known ‘could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone, you must save and you alone.’
Rather than only feeding us with songs of response the hymns bathe us in God’s grace. They show us God’s saving power and teach us to rely only on him. I think that many modern song writers do this too, but our individualistic western culture always drags us into thinking that we need to do something.
Keep singing hymns and keep trusting God.
I am excited to announce a new initiative that we are undertaking with CCECNiTECHURCH music this year. After previous recordings that our church has done (these can be downloaded at http://www.singjesuspraise.com/
) the Nite church music team (we know how to spell night we are just cutting edge cool) are going to put down some tracks with a little bit different purpose.
In the past there has been a tension in our recordings… who are they for? Our church? other churches? private listening pleasure? teaching a song? so in answer to these questions we’ve decided to break it all up and put out a little something for everyone.
Project Philippi is an initiative to help out other churches in the area of music. For now it is just a recording but we hope in the future to do more things to help out others, the way that the Philippians poured themselves out for the church in Jerusalem.
The Project Philippi recordings are going to be a small selection of some of our new songs that we have written along with chord charts, lead sheets and backing tracks for each song. We are hoping to print around 200 CDs and send them to music directors around the place as a free gift. Because they are free we will not be getting the most expensive sound out of the recordings. Their purpose will be more to give a new selection of songs to a church.
We are soon to begin work on this so you can be praying for us as we do this that we will be humble and driven by Jesus glory and magnifying his name around our country.
I’ll keep you posted from here about where we are up to with it. Eventually I would love it if you would send me a contact person from your church who could benefit from this initiative.
Totally nothing about singing in this post
I have been made aware of a christian organisation called STOP THE TRAFFIK based in the UK that are on about ending human trafficking in the world. apparantly there are more slaves today then there were when William Wilberforce was around. This horrifies me.
I’m excited by seeing Christians passionate about this stuff. It reminds me that God is a God who cares about justice and who loves the oppressed. As we are changed to be more and more like Jesus, do we care more and more about this stuff?
Creative Arts college and John Newton
Found some cool stuff on the web this morning. The first was an imagined interview between Brian Thomas and John Newton. It’s a bit geeky but kind of cool.
The second is some ideas about an Anglican Creative arts college in Sydney. My gut reaction is that it’s a good question to be asking but I reckon Graham Stanton is on the money when he says the secular colleges are already awesome. It’s exciting seeing an interest in the creative arts though!