“What to do when a song doesn’t stick”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 41

Last time: pre-service and post-service music
Today : What to do when a song doesn’t stick
Things to consider:
  1. Did we teach it well?
  2. If there are men and women’s parts were they taught clearly?
  3. Is the theology really important?
  4. Is it a type of song we don’t have many of?
  5. Is it beyond the musical abilities of their congregation / worship team?
Possible solutions
  1. Re-teach
  2. Persevere
  3. Ask people what they think of the song
  4. Play in background so people become more familiar
  5. Perform it as a solo or group
Have you had this experience?
Please leave a comment and pass this on….
God bless, Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“Pre-service and Post-service Music”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 40

Today I respond to Funlola‘s comment on last week’s post:

“I think starting music so people are walking in to it is good also – not walking into a warm up but walking into a worshipful atmosphere.”

I explain what we’re going to experiment with in Watford this coming Sunday. Let me know what you do.

Please leave a comment. Pass the link on to anyone who might benefit.

God bless, Malcolm

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“What should we sing at the start?”

The Sunday Sample: Episode 39

 

Dave Eastman:

“When people come together on a Sunday morning, they have been beaten up by the world. As much as we might encourage them to come spiritually prepared, they are not necessarily in a spiritual state when they arrive. It is primarily the job of the worship team to take these people by the hand and walk them into the presence of God.”  "Building Worship Flow"; Dave Eastman, 2014

  • No point putting response before remembering to whom we are responding or why
  • No point putting requests before remembering to whom we are making those requests

Practicals:

1. Songs God-focussed. i.e. not about our response to Him, but who He is and what He has done

2. Flow helps – when gaps between songs are minimised there is less opportunity for the world to intrude

3. Worship leaders connected to God and communicating well with the congregation

4. Pre-service devotional helps the team to be in the state of mind and heart into which we hope to lead the congregation

Key Principle: If we get God at the start we will have an open heart to what his purpose is with us

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more recordings on this topic here and on the YouTube Sunday Sample playlist.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: www.malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for listening.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How to plan spontaneity in corporate worship”

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 38

Today: the place for spontaneity as a worship leader

New Testament

Erickson: “the spirit moves through spontaneity. The spirit also moves through form and structure. Obviously, for Paul both dimensions are vital to the dynamics of worship.”

Erickson: “…a balance between structure and freedom is easier to attain in theory than in practice. The tension between the two can become a source of discord within a congregation. The pastoral challenge is to maintain a creative balance amidst these two constantly shifting elements”

Key Principle: “Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Corinthians 14:26)

Before you go spontaneous:

  • Discuss the place of spontaneity with leadership
  • Agree on principles and practicals as a worship team
  • Get feedback

Enabling spontaneity:

  • Do not abandon structure – it enables freedom
  • Give the service structure to your team as far in advance as possible

Practicals:

  • Extend a song
  • Add/change a song
  • Read/quote a scripture
  • Pray
  • Say a few words

What else can you think of / have you seen?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 3

The Sunday Sample: Episode 37

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?

This is the third episode in a mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: What’s wrong with ritual?

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 2

The Sunday Sample: Episode 36

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?
Here is the second of our mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: “Who’s who?”

Please leave a comment and pass the link on.
God bless,
Malcolm
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How to help everyone participate in corporate worship”, part 1

The Sunday Sample: Episode 35

We want full participation – what to do when we don’t get it?

Here is the first in a mini-series looking at some suggestions. This week: assess the capabilities of your congregation.

Please share your ideas here by leaving a comment.

And please pass this on to one other person.

God bless, Malcolm

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

“How to yield to God with joy”, Psalm 100

Quiet Time Coaching" Episode 29

Have you ever seen two drivers coming at a junction from a different direction and each refusing to yield to the other? Perhaps you have been one of those drivers. I’m sure I have! Not a pretty sight. And no one gets anywhere.

Yielding does not have a good image in contemporary society. It is associated with helplessly surrendering one’s liberty, possessions and even one’s life. But is there a more positive way to view yielding, especially when it pertains to our relationship with God?

Psalm 100

The concept of yielding in a healthy way is on my mind because I am studying Psalm 100. The purpose of this study is preparation for a special worship service I am planning for May 6. More on that as we approach the date.

Here is the Psalm in its entirety:

“A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
(Psalms 100:0–5 NIV11)

It is not a long psalm, but it is powerful. It has been called the “Jubilate”, and is often quoted in church services. The famous old hymn, “All people that on earth do dwell” is based on this Psalm. Well worth praying through. The lyrics are below.

There is much to say about this Psalm. Future blog articles will expand on its themes. For today, we will focus on the overall tone of the Psalm. I am guided in this by some comments in the book, “The Psalms and the life of faith” by Walter Breuggemann. He makes the observation that both yielding and covenant are strong themes. Let’s have a look at those.

1. Nothing but yielding

The feel of the Psalm is one of surrender. As Brueggemann says, “In Psalm 100, the summons to praise are utterly yielding to God…There is nothing here but yielding.” p51

The whole earth is to make a joyful noise. We are to serve (worship), come to him, enter his gates, thank him, praise him, bless him.

The scope of the yielding is global. The extent of the yielding is total. The focus of the worship in this Psalm is God, not the worshipper.

Yet it is not a cringing, miserable yielding.

2. Covenant confidence

There is more to say about this Psalm than solely yielding. It is that, within the yielding, there is a relationship. A healthy relationship. The covenant relationship is in view. As is the character of God.

Brueggemann notes: “These invitations [to yield], however, are grounded in a sense of our position vis-à-vis God:…even in this supreme act of yielding, the language of hesed [steadfast love] and emet [faithfulness] is present because Israel knows no other way to sing or to pray.” p52

What is God like? He made us, calls us his own, and gives us what we need (V3). He is good (v5) and will love us for ever (v5). His faithfulness to us will never end (V5).

Conclusion

In this Psalm we see surrender and joy coexisting. A tremendous example from the old Testament are what we see in the relationship between Jesus and the father. We are able to yield to God and enjoy God. This Psalm shows us how.

Why not spend some time meditating on praising and worshipping God in a yielded way and the motivation for doing so.

Question

What helps you to yield to God? What helps you to enjoy that yielding? Which characteristics of God help you to yield?

Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best, when we learn in community.

I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.

God bless, Malcolm

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“All people that on earth do dwell”

By: William Kethe, c. 1594; Thomas Ken, 1637–1711 Tune: Old 100th

All people that on earth do dwell,

Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;

Him serve with fear, His praise forthtell;

Come ye before Him and rejoice.

 

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed,

Without our aid He did us make;

We are His folk, He doth us feed,

And for His sheep He doth us take.

 

O enter then His gates with praise,

Approach with joy His courts unto;

Praise, laud, and bless His name always;

For it is seemly so to do.

 

For why? the Lord our God is good,

His mercy is forever sure:

His truth at all times firmly stood,

And shall from age to age endure.

 

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

“The Spiritual Benefits of Slow Singing”

Quiet Time Coaching, Episode 28

Try singing, “Happy birthday to you…” really slowly. Feels weird, doesn’t it? Most songs have a narrow range of speeds within which they can be sung and still make sense. But is there a case for singing ridiculously slowly?
 
 
I’ve made it a habitual practice to sing hymns or choruses as part of my daily quiet time. Not every day. But frequently. By the time you’ve been a Christian as long as I have, you’ve sung them so often at least a few have become lodged in the memory banks! Most of the time I sing them at normal speed. Occasionally, I slow them right down. Why? Let’s think about that.
 

Slow Speed, Deep Dive

We dive deeper when singing slower. Each phrase, each word, even each syllable becomes more significant when it is pronounced slowly, sung slowly, thought upon slowly.
 
If you’ve ever tried eating and chewing at a deliberately leisurely speed, you will know that the textures and flavours come out much more strongly. The same is true of the spiritual sense of songs when they are sung more slowly. This is not to say slow songs are better than fast songs. Not at all. Zealous energy in song is part of what makes praise powerful. It’s just that there are times to slow songs down.
This is easier done in personal devotional times than with a congregation. Why not try it in your next quiet time. Below, I offer two further thoughts on effective slow singing.

1. Lyrical Richness

Some songs are wordier than others. The strength of these hymns is their descriptive power. They use many words to create a beautiful picture of God’s nature or similar. The challenge is that we sing all these words without having the brain space to absorb their meaning.
 
Slow these songs down and you receive a rich deposit of God’s truth and love into your heart and mind. A good example would be the old hymn, “Crown him with many crowns”, or the more modern, “In Christ alone”.
 

2. Lyrical Repetitiveness

Songs with very few lyrics and repeated words do not have the lyrical depth of the songs I’ve been talking about in the earlier point. However, they have their own richness if we truly meditate on the repeated words. Perhaps the best example of this in the Bible is Psalm 150:
“Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.” (Psalms 150:1–6 NIV11)
 
You could try, “Those who hope in the Lord” by David Casswell, or “God is so good”.
 

Conclusion

In the video and podcast version of this blog, I give a demonstration of what this looks like when I do it. I pick one of my favourite hymns, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”. Oh, and I also sing it to my preferred tune – “Rockingham”. You can hear and see this at the foot of the blog.
 
Have a go in your next quiet time at singing a song you know well – ridiculously slowly.
 

Question

Have you tried singing a hymn slowly? What benefit did you find it bringing to your devotional time? Can you suggest hymns that work well with this kind of treatment?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of fulfilling quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

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