Music Selection in Worship (Grace Notes Issue 1.23)


Originally Written for 3/1/09

Cross Posted on Grace Notes

I’ve found in speaking with people that sometimes they wonder how I choose music for the morning services, both congregational and choral, so I figured I’d take a little time to explain my process and use next week’s music (March 8) to illustrate my process.

First, I find out from Bill what his over-arching theme for the week is going to be, and then I work to narrow down songs that fit that theme.  My search for songs looks at a couple of different criteria.  First (and foremost), the text.  Does the text communicate a truth we are trying to address in the service?  Does it have a solid foundation in scripture and in our own church’s theology?  What is the “direction” of the text (is it sung to God or to others)?  Second, I look at the tune – do we know it or not?  Is it a tune that fits the mood of the service?  Finally, I look at the key relationship of the songs and see how they fit together – will transitions be smooth and easy or will they require some work?

Let’s take next week’s music as an example.  Bill will be speaking on spiritual warfare, specifically putting on the armor of God (unless, of course, he’s changed his mind !)  Since this is not what I would consider an “easy” theme to construct music for, I decided to look at each of the pieces of armor and find a song that fit the truth conveyed through that armor.  We start the service singing “Soldiers of Christ, Arise” as the call to worship by the choir, and then more into music for the congregation.

First is the song “Redeemed”, which focuses on the theme of Salvation (Helmet of Salvation), followed by “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” (the Shield of Faith).

After the offering we do a couple of more songs, beginning with “It is Well” (The Gospel of Peace on our Feet) and then “Jesus Loves Me” (Girding our Loins with Truth – what more important truth is there than understanding the fact that God loves us and sent His son to die for us?).  Finally, the invitation song for the week is “Whiter than Snow”, focusing on the Breastplate of Righteousness (Christ has made us righteous in God’s sight through his Blood).  This also piggy-backs the choir anthem of “Power in the Blood” – we are free from sin (and, therefore, made righteous) through the blood of Christ.

Finally, I have two goals going into each service with the music.  First (and foremost) is to usher the worshiper into the presence of God so they can truly worship Him.  Second, it is to prepare the hearts of the worshiper to receive the truth that is set forth in both the spoken and sung word (sermon and song).

I do invite your feedback on the music selections for the service, particularly letting me know if I am accomplishing my two goals listed above.

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