A Simple Contemporary Song Tip for Musicians

A Simple Contemporary Song Tip for Musicians

Song Flow
Some pieces of contemporary music can be complicated – containing introductions, verses, refrains (choruses), bridges, repeats, codas and multiple endings all jumbled up as if thrown into a Vita-mix blender. It seems like some of these pieces require schooling in music just to decipher the code. My solution – I will often write out the song structure on the top of my sheet music, for example:

Listed in order:
Intro (played by Ruth) – Verse 1 (sung by Stella), Chorus (all), Verse 2 (Steve), Chorus (all), Bridge (layered vocals; first Ruth, then Ruth and Stella, then all three of us), Chorus (all; no guitar), Ending (Ruth – softly)

Use Highlighters on Your Music
I also will often use highlighting pens to indicate the flow. For example, I usually highlight the repeat markings, the coda markings and the “dal segno” marks which we refer to as “da sign!” (inside musician humor). The highlights quickly draw my eyes to the place where I need to go. For really complicated songs I’ve been known to use different color highlights as well. So the start of Coda for example is highlighted in green and I get to it by highlighting the D.S. al Coda in green as well.

The Bulletin
By the way, we also have our church secretary print a simplified “map” in our bulletin as well so that our congregation can easily sing along, for example:

Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Ending

Now you know the rest of the story!

Summer Psalm for August 31, 2014 – Pentecost 12

Summer Psalm for August 31, 2014 – Pentecost 12
Based on Psalm 73 (selected verses)

Song Choices: 
“Praise You in this Storm” by Marc Hall
“God My Rock” by Paul Baloche and Brenton Brown

Level of Difficulty:
These are both great songs for your worship team to offer but would prove to be difficult for the congregation.

You Tube:
Praise You in this Storm:

God My Rock:

Rationale for the Song Choices:
They both capture the spirit of verses 23-26.

Suggested Format:
This is the last week of this summer series. As such, I am proposing something a little different.  Make your song choice and instead of the usual responsive Psalm of the Day format, use the song in it’s place but plan for an instrumental interlude midway through the song where the Pastor reads versus 23-26 along with the background music.  The band then finishes the song.

Psalm 73:23-26 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heartand my portion forever.

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside The Box

Where’s the Complaint Department in this Church?
Church, should be a place of refuge. It’s where we meet with God. It’s where we hear God speak. It’s where we join forces with people who are one with us. So why do people complain in church, about church, about other members, about the Pastor, about the music, about the volume, about bible class, about the building, about the color of the carpets, about the video screen, about the lack of a video screen, about, about, about…? As I see it, if our churches were perfect, we could not belong. And if we want a better Pastor, we should pray for the one that God has so graciously given to us.

I’m Looking at the Man in the Mirror!
We complain because we are sinners. We think that worship is greener at the other church. The problem is that this cycle never ends. It is endless because the problem is usually not the church or the Pastor. It’s usually the person in the mirror. It’s you and it’s me.

The Suggestion Box
A “Suggestion Box” is usually a bad idea. You will find that it can serve as an anonymous complaint box. The box can overflow with breakage of the eighth commandment. Rather, we need to be open, honest, helpful, respectful, kind, courteous; we need the gifts of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), not the fists of Satan.

The Answer Box
The answer is never division. It’s not quarreling among ourselves. It’s not finger pointing. The answer is never easy. The best answer is prayer. Prayer works because it’s you speaking to God and God responding. Responding in your thoughts, responding with events gloriously unfolding around you, responding through coincidences, responding with His will for you. The answer takes time. It takes patience. Time heals because God invented time.

Think Outside the Box!
So, you don’t need a suggestion box.
Don’t put God in a box either. He is bigger than you know.
Don’t put your Pastor in a box.
You don’t need a better Pastor. He has not been cookie-cutter stamped out like all the other Pastors that have preceded him. He is unique and fashioned by God to suit the needs of your congregation.

The Prayer Box
What you do need is a prayer box.
This prayer box is called your heart. That’s what the gifts of the Spirit are. Look again. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. All from the heart. I call these – “the peacemakers.” So no more complaining about your church or your Pastor!

Summer Psalm for August 24, 2014 – Pentecost 11

Summer Psalm for August 24, 2014 – Pentecost 11
Based on Psalm 42 & 43 (selected verses)

Song Choices: 
“Hungry” by Kathryn Scott
“Breathe” by Marie Barnett
“As the Deer” by Martin Nystrom

Level of Difficulty:
The entire congregation can sing these heart-felt songs.

You Tube:


As the Deer:

Rationale for the Song Choices:
It will be evident in the responsive readings. “Breathe” and “Hungry” are organic songs, “As the Deer” bears the opening verse of the Psalm as it’s title.

Suggested Format:
Musicians softly play the verse or chorus in the background (Hungry or Breathe)

Congregations Sings Verse 1 & Chorus (“As the Deer” only)

M: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
C: Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation.

M: Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked.
C: My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

M: When can I go and meet with God?
C: You are God my stronghold.

Congregation Sings: Verse and Chorus

M: My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long,“Where is your God?” 
C: Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. 

M: I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.  Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
C: Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  Why, my soul, are you downcast? 

M: Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 
C: By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. 

Congregation Sings:Verse and Chorus


We meet no ordinary people in our lives. – CS Lewis

I am a worship leader and I grew up in my church! Most worship leaders (musicians in today’s vernacular) do come from within the church. Unlike pastors, staff ministers and youth pastors, many worship leaders have attended their church for years, sometimes decades, before serving on the staff.

For me, this is good because:

1. I know my congregation and they know me. They are comfortable with me. They often volunteer to help sing or play an instrument with the band. They are the very people who have helped me to get to where I am in life. They have provided me with opportunity, strength, stability, friendship and endurance.

2. They know me from attending worship, bible class and fellowship events. They know my track record of faithfulness.

3. I know the history and personality of the church. I know it’s vision. I know the people. I know the culture. I know the community. I know their strengths and weaknesses. I know the church’s doctrines.

4. I know what musical styles the congregation is comfortable with.

God had a hand in placing me with these people and joining us into a friendship and fellowship of believers.

Four things a man must learn to do If he would make his life more true:
To think without confusion clearly,
To love his fellow-man sincerely,
To act from honest motives purely,
To trust in God and Heaven securely
– Henry Van Dyke

What’s Your Verse?

What’s Your Verse?
My brother would answer as follows:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:6
He especially likes the past tense on those verbs!
Why, because for us believers, it has already happened.
It’s the Story of His Life!!
Honestly, I needed help with this verse because frankly, I am not there yet in my walk with Christ. I am a devout, old time, Confessional Lutheran who never misses bible class, and yet, I struggle with this verse. So I asked him for more. What does it mean to him? Why did he spend ten years of his life writing a book called “Seated Above, Looking Below?
Bob’s Answer
I remember watching a Robin Williams movie and really getting a lot of spiritual impressions from certain scenes. In the film he plays an iconoclastic teacher who tries to get the students to think for themselves and to “carpe diem, because tomorrow we will all be fertilizer for daffodils.” There was this one scene where he actually told the students to get out of their chairs and to get up and stand on the teacher’s desk in order to see things from a different perspective. So one by one, each student took turns standing on top of his or her desk.
The biblical admonition is similar because God wants us to see things in a new way. The Ephesians letter is what I call “The Great Finished Work Letter” for in Ephesians 2 we read that we are “seated together with Christ in heavenly places.” Imagine that! I am seated above looking below. Right now! 
Pure Gold
The Christian message is that man is too depraved and falls short of God’s standards – so Christ came, lived a perfect life, and He stands in the gap for me by offering Himself on the cross and taking my death, my punishment, my shame in my place. And for my simple faith, not my works or my religious efforts, God saves me, changes me, and makes me a new creation in Christ, here in time and space. This is why in Colossians 3 we read these words “if Ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, for you died and your life is know hidden with Him.”
Positional truth now says that I am a citizen of another kingdom, even though I am finishing up down here on earth. So very much like Robin Williams, trying to get his students to see in a new way, God Himself is trying to get the Christian to see in a new way. We are seated way up above and He has already blessed us in spiritual realms and has lifted us up to be kings and priests with Him. We are a royal priesthood! Isn’t it great to know that you don’t have to work yourself into a frenzy and go piling up brownie points before God will accept you. He already has accepted you! He died for you! He loved you before their was even a planet to stand on, and in His infinite foreknowledge He saw those who would believe in His son, and in that sense we have been predestined, ransomed, redeemed and adopted. We truly are Seated Above Looking Below. Wow!!!
- Bobby Brown
Seated Above Looking Below is available on Amazon at this link:
It is free for Amazon Prime members!

Summer Psalm for August 10, 2014 – Pentecost 9

Summer Psalm for August 10, 2014 – Pentecost 9
Based on Psalm 18 (selected verses)

Song Choices: 
“I Love You Lord” by Laurie Klein (Song #107 in the “Best of the Best” songbooks)

Level of Difficulty:
The entire congregation can sing this song.

You Tube:

Rationale for the Song Choices:
The song is based on the opening verse of the Psalm.

Suggested Format:
Musicians softly play the verse or chorus in the background

M:​ I love you, O LORD, my strength.
C: ​The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
M:​ my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
C:​ He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
M:​ I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
C:​ and I am saved from my enemies.

Congregation Sings: Verse, Verse & Chorus

M:​ He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
C:​ He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
M:​ He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
C:​ You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
M:​ You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
C:​You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.

Congregation Sings: Verse, Verse & Chorus

A Toolbox for Worship Leaders, Pastors and Musicians


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