Sing Unto the Lord

Does my song leader have Tourettes or is he trying to say something meaningful?
February 14, 2008, 5:27 am
Filed under: Doing music, Thinking Music
Bob Kauflin has taught me lots. One thing that he has taught me is to be intentional in the way I speak between songs and during songs. His theory is that by shouting out statements that point people’s attention to Christ you help to keep them engaged and to see the realities that they are singing a little better. I’m sure many people find this distracting when it’s done at first. The thing is, so often we call out the first line of the next verse or chorus before we sing it in order to fill the space. If you feel compelled to fill space why don’t you write down a few choice phrases that fit with the image of Christ that the song is portraying.
Another place I think it’s important to do this and can be helpful is in sections of songs that have a repeated phrase over and over again many times. We don’t want to be mystics who empty our minds by repeating a phrase, we want to fill our minds with truth an let that move us. So what I suggest is that during a time like that the song leader reminds the congregation of the Saviour they are singing to.
eg. (I haven’t done this before with this song but I think it could work)
You are my King
You are my King Jesus
You are my King
‘You created us!’
You are my King Jesus
‘You bled for us and died for us’
are my King
‘bought us, saved us’
You are my King Jesus
You are my King
‘You show us amazing Love’
You are my King Jesus
… Amazing Love, how can it be…
You could do heaps of phrases with this song. I chose these because they show Jesus quadruple right to be our King.
Doing this helps the congregation see that we have truths that are real and life changing. We don’t need to fall into the ritual of repeating a mantra to have our affections engaged. We could speak of his mercies forever and still they would never be exhausted. It’s good to repeat stuff because it lodges it in our brains and we can rethink a phrase umpteen times to see different facets of it. Perhaps the Song leader can assist in that.
The other important thing is what is said between songs. Too often song leaders fall into one of two categories with this. They either give mini sermons every time they speak that are filled with rambling heresy, or they never say anything of any importance in between songs and rather never move past ‘good singing, lets do some more’ or ‘grab a seat’.
It’s important to be tight with what is said from the front. It can be helpful if the song leader highlights something about the song just sung or about to be sung. It can also be ok to say something on the nature of singing to God and one another. One great phrase that I heard recently was at Saturday EV. Jon, the song leader there said simply ‘this is not a ritual.’ That helped me think about singing but he didn’t spend five minutes fumbling over his words. That can be worse than not saying anything. I think that the Song leader should have notes written down if he is going to do this. Don’t trust yourself on the fly. have a four line prayer- no longer- to pray at the end of one of the songs, write down two lines from a song that you are going to say before you sing the whole song, to highlight them in someone’s mind.

5 Comments so far
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Hey Dan,
I find it really, REALLY annoying when the song leader injects bits into the song we are singing (I don’t mind if one of the backing singers sings a different part or something though).

I makes me think that he (it’s generally a bloke) is trying to make the song into more of a performance, and trying to get more attention. That may not be his motive, but it’s how I feel when it happens.

I think you need to be really careful doing it.

I also think the worship leaders need at our church need to stop inserting mini-sermons at the start of each song. Especially when they are spouting crap (‘scuse the French).

Comment by RodeoClown

Appreciate your comments Rodeo. I agree that at times this technique can come across as performancy. Maybe the answer is in how it’s done. I can’t find it, but somewhere there is a recording of Bob K doing it on a Sunday morning. I reckon it’s different but definately not showy or performancy. It would take getting used to but I think it would be helpful. Can someone help me find it?

Comment by danielgodden

I agree with Rodeo, though I think less strongly. I like your approach though, it could still work.

Those gaps are good for prayers though.

Comment by hayesy

The difficulty i have with the leader adding extra bits is that it makes me think there are more words to the song that I am missing- which is distracting because I think ive missed lines and so i stop singing the lines i am singing and before you know it, the chorus is over and i haven’t reflected on anything.
The “You are my king” example sounds good, and are good things to be reminding the congregation, but youve got to remember that when you’re the song leader, its your voice which is mainly heard. This means that when it starts singing something different to the words on the screen, it is just plain confusing.

I realise that a lot of this is about change and that the congregation will “get used to it”- which is quite possibly true. But what happens then when the culture of a church is for people to sing out over the top of song lyrics? For surely eventually people will follow this example from the front? And i can hear you thinking out loud- That would be great!- but consider the time, effort, contemplation it takes you to consider the best songs for us to sing at church. You even have your own blog here to reflect on it. The average congregation member is not so thought through on helpful lyrics for themselves and those around them- Is it not perhaps better for a congragation to learn and grow through words and lyrics written by people who have considered and thought deeply about what they are writing? This is why we have ministers to devote themselves to preaching.

Anyway, im rambling a little. I agree though with Rodeoclown- Utilise your back-up singers to add extra idea’s/words/praise to a song- they will be a voice distinguishable from the leaders. Although just one other thought- you dont want to overload the thought process when singing. For example, i may be singing “you are my king” and having a great time reflecting on this and the extend of how great and awesome god is- adding extra words at that point could be stifling/overcrowding.

Comment by Jackson

ROFLMMFAO!!!!!11!11!111 You all think this is an important issue?! LOL @ Christfags!!!!

Comment by Dick Willis

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