Category Archives: How to Start

Homegrown

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

Introducing Contemporary Music

Introducing Contemporary Music

Is your congregation ready for contemporary music in worship?

Not all are. Just look around and note the ages of the people seated in the pews. And let’s just get this out on the table – some church leaders are dead set against it. This is sad but it’s not your battle to fight.  Pray for your Pastor and your leaders.

A few more thoughts….

1. Have a plan before you start.  Answer these questions in your own mind first:

  • Why is this newer music needed?

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/contemporary-christian-music-as-outreach-2/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/styles/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/i-do-not-like-this-newer-music/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/new-to-contemporary-music/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/what-god-likes-to-hear-in-our-music/

  • How will the congregation benefit?

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/sing-a-new-song-this-sunday/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/try-a-little-variety/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/musical-style-should-not-split-a-church/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/worship-styles/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/wels-worship-poll-results/

  • How will the worship life of the church be affected?

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/fellowship-with-musical-diversity/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/the-practical-implications-of-differing-musical-styles/

2. Pray for help, blessings and guidance.

3. Share the vision for the new music with the congregation as well as its biblical basis.

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/responding-with-scripture/

4. Focus on an ADDITION to the current worship versus elimination.

5. Train members how to sing contemporary music. Consider involving the teen and youth groups if possible. Start off with simple tunes.  Start by having the band offer the songs as pre-service selections and during the offering for several months before asking the congregation to sing.

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/a-scoring-system-to-determine-if-a-new-song-is-congregational-friendly/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/thinking-about-either-starting-or-joining-a-contemporary-praise-band/

6. Ease into the change slowly; perhaps with one service per month, or even one song per month.

For more information:

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/blended-worship-planning-101/

http://sjbrown58.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/how-to-start-a-blended-worship-service-program-at-your-church/

7. Learn from the introduction. Ask your worship team these questions:

What worked well?

What could have been done better?

Where there any issues?

8. Ask for congregational feedback.

Sing to The Lord a New Song in 2014

Sing to the Lord a New Song in 2014

Resolve in 2014 to sing a New Song to The Lord! Why not empower an energetic teen or young adult in your congregation who plays the piano, keyboards, or guitar to lead a worship team in offering one new song for each day of worship in 2014? You can do this for as little as $500/year, which should be enough to purchase three or four arrangements per week (piano, guitar and lead sheet) from a digital download site such as lifewayworship.com. With God’s blessings, you should easily find a donor to fund such an activity within your church – especially when you mention that the teens will be enthusiastically involved. If not, reduce the commitment to one Sunday per month – in which case your costs will be under $100 for the entire year.

I have searched for appropriate songs and prayed for guidance but your Pastor should still review and approve each piece in the list below. Here are my recommendations for one song in each of your worship services in 2014.

Contemporary Song Choices for 2014 based on the Lectionary Readings

Date Song Title Writer Scripture Ref
Jan. 5 Christmas 2 Lord I Lift Your Name on High* Rick Founds Jn 1:14
Jan 12 The Baptism of our Lord One Small Child* David Mecce Isa 42:1
Jan 19 Epiphany 2 Jesus, Son of God Chris Tomlin Jn 1:29
Jan 26 Epiphany 3 Follow You Leeland Mooring Mt 4:19
Feb 2 Epiphany 4 Speak O Lord* Keith Getty Mic 6:8
Feb 9 Epiphany 5 Offering (Christmas Version)* Paul Baloche Heb 12:1 & 13:15
Feb 16 Epiphany 6 Beautiful One Tim Hughes 1Cor 2:8-10
Feb 23 Epiphany 7 Living Stones* Michael Schmid 1Cor 3:10-14
Mar 2 Transfiguration We Fall Down Chris Tomlin (with Steven Curtis Chapman)
Mar 5 Ash Wed The Scandal of Grace Hillsongs 2Cor 15:20-21
Mar 9 Lent 1 The Power of the Cross* Getty & Townend
Mar 16 Lent 2 Jesus Messiah Chris Tomlin Jn 4:25
Mar 23 Lent 3 The Heart of Worship* Matt Redman Eph 5:8-10
Mar 30 Lent 4 Come Let Us Return Brenton Brown Hos 6:1
Apr 6 Lent 5 Days of Elijah* Robin Mark Eze 37:1-14
Apr 13 Palm Sunday Hosanna (Praise is Rising) Baloche & Brown Mt 21:9
Apr 17 Maundy Thursday Broken and Poured Out Kevin Bueltmann 1 Cor 11:23-29
Apr 18 Good Friday How Deep the Father’s Love for Us* Getty & Townend
Apr 20 Easter Christ is Risen Matt Maher Jn 20:1-18
Apr 27 Easter 2 Come People of the Risen King* Getty & Townend Acts 2:26
May 4 Easter 3 Beautiful the Blood Steve Fee 1 Pe 1:18-19
May 11 Easter 4 You Never Let Go Matt Redman Ps 23:4
May 18 Easter 5 Living Stones* Michael Schmid 1Pe 2:4-10
May 25 Easter 6 Jesus Saves Tim Hughes 1 Pe 3:21
May 29 Ascension Glorious Day Mark Hall Lk 24:51
June 1 Easter 7 Your Name Paul Baloche Jn 17:1-11
June 8 Pentecost Awakening Tomlin & Morgan Acts 2:1-21
June 15 Holy Trinity Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty* Matt Maher
June 22 Pentecost 2 Your Grace is Enough Matt Maher Rom 3:23-25
June 29 Pentecost 3 The Same Love Paul Baloche Mt 9:13
July 6 Pentecost 4 Amazing Love (You are My King) Billy Foote Rom 5:8
July 13 Pentecost 5 Jesus Died, My Soul to Save Matt Boswell Rom 5:15
July 20 Pentecost 6 The Wonderful Cross* Chris Tomlin Rom 6:6-11
July 27 Pentecost 7 At the Foot of the Cross Kathryn Scott Mt 11:28-30
Aug 3 Pentecost 8 The Way Jeremy Camp Rom 8:19-22
Aug 10 Pentecost 9 In Christ Alone* Getty and Townend
Aug 17 Pentecost 10 Sovereign Over Us Aaron Keys Rom 8:28-30
Aug 24 Pentecost 11 Jesus, Son of God Chris Tomlin Rom 8:35-39
Aug 31 Pentecost 12 Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Joel Houston Mt 14:25-32
Sept 7 Pentecost 13 In Christ Alone (with chorus)* Getty, Townend & Stanfill
Sept 14 Pentecost 14 We Cry Out Jeremy Camp Ps 34:17
Sept 21 Pentecost 15 White Flag Chris Tomlin Rom 12:1-5
Sept 28 Pentecost 16 Who is Like You? Mac Powell Gal 2:20
Oct 5 Pentecost 17 Amazing Love (You are My King) Billy Foote Rom 14:9
Oct 12 Pentecost 18 Overflow Matt Maher Php 1:26
Oct 19 Pentecost 19 Jesus Messiah Chris Tomlin Php 2:1-11
Oct 26 Pentecost 20 O Church Arise Getty & Townend Php 3:13-15
Nov 2 Reformation Mighty Fortress Shust & Baloche Ps 46
Nov 9 Last Judgment O Worship the King Chris Tomlin Da 7:9-10
Nov 16 Saint’s Triumphant Glorious Day Mark Hall 1 Th 4:16-17
Nov 23 Christ the King Jesus, Son of God Chris Tomlin Mt 27:29
Nov 27 Thanksgiving My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness Keith Getty
Nov 30 Advent 1 All to Us Chris Tomlin
Dec 7 Advent 2 Behold the Lamb of God Shaun Starbuck
Dec 14 Advent 3 Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) Chris Tomlin
Dec 21 Advent 4 Waiting Here for You Chris Tomlin
Dec 24 Christmas Eve Glory in the Highest Chris Tomlin Lk 2:13-14
Dec 25 Christmas Day Born in Bethlehem Mac Powell Lk 2:10-11
Dec 28 Epiphany Offering (Christmas Version)* Paul Baloche Heb 12:1 & 13:15

* Easy enough for the congregation to sing along

For WELS and ELS members only – I am available to help should you have any questions – inasmuch as I can do based on my location. Contact me by replying to this feed or by email (sjbrown58 “at” yahoo “dot” com).

I pray that you witness passion in worship that is wonderfully contagious.

Practice Time

Practice Time

How much time does your musical team get together to practice? Our band currently has four members (two guitars, one keyboard, and one who plays light percussion and adds harmony background vocals), we all like to sing, and we lead the music on a monthly basis (one Sunday per month). In preparation for this monthly service, we try to get together about three times a month (taking one week off) for about one hour each week. This equates to about three hours of group practice for one hour of leading musical worship. To me this seems just about right because you can hear the songs really coming together by the end of the second or the third practice depending on the complexity.

Our band is made up of all seasoned musicians with a combined 100+ years of musical experience at our respective instruments so one might think that we don’t need much practice. But the thing is, each month we have new songs to learn so it’s important to get together to divide up who will be singing which parts, who will be driving the arrangement, what key signatures to use, how we will introduce the song, who will take solos and where (if at all), and most importantly to get the feel of the overall groove of the music.

When a band practices together to hone their craft, the result is a coherent musical offering that invites congregational participation and helps in the overall flow of the worship service. Group practice allows time for the bass guitarist and drummer to work together to build the groove of the song and for the guitars and keyboards to provide the body and melody of the music.

In addition to this week night practice time, we each practice solo at home and we listen to our monthly songs performed by the original recording artists on our individual MP3 players and email youtube versions of each song to one another. Finally, we meet together about a half hour before the worship service to check our balances and to run through that difficult part once more.

In the end, we know each other very well. We can interpret looks from one another during worship. We know each others signals when something isn’t quite right; maybe the tempo needs to be adjusted based on the congregation’s singing, or maybe one of us is singing off-pitch (usually me). We are not only a band – we are friends who support one another and pray for each other.

The bottom line is that bands need to spend time together because the worship life of the church improves when this happens.

Third Sunday After Pentecost – Contemporary Worship

Third Sunday After Pentecost – Contemporary Worship

“Worship must be a priority and must not be approached lightly, haphazardly, or without passion.”

On June 17, we will be blessed by having the Branches Band accompany our worship service. Over the past several weeks I have been working with the Branches Band via email to plan and prepare for the service. After discussing the idea with our Pastor, it was decided to follow our typical contemporary worship format. This is a worship service meant to be accompanied by a keyboard/guitar style of music. The entire worship bulletin is included below. I have inserted a view videos of the Branches music where appropriate.

Worship is not from tradition but from the heart.  The following is contemporary worship.

Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church
Member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
300 Buckland Road, P.O. Box 1156, South Windsor, CT 06074

Pastor Timothy J. Ehlers Church Office: (860) 644-2110

Third Sunday after Pentecost June 17, 2012

THEME FOR WORSHIP
Our faith is based on Jesus our risen Lord

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________________________________________________________

PRE-SERVICE: “I Rejoiced” ……………………………………………………………………………………….Branches Band
“Fill Me Up”
“O Holy Spirit, Enter In” (arranged by the Branches Band)

OPENING SONG: CW234 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” arranged by the Branches Band

M: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
C: And also with you.

CONFESSION OF SINS AND ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS

M: Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
C: He who has clean hands and a pure heart, he will receive blessing from God his Savior
(Psalm 24:3-5)

M: What does God say about each of us in his holy Word?
C: He says that I am a sinner and deserve only his punishment.

M: What should each of us do if we are not aware of our personal sins or are not troubled by them?
C: I should examine myself according to the Ten Commandments and ask how well I have carried out my responsibilities as a husband or wife or single person, as a parent or child, an employer or employee, a teacher or student. Have I loved God with all my heart, gladly heard his Word, and patiently endured affliction? Have I been disobedient, proud, or unforgiving? Have I been selfish, lazy, envious, or quarrelsome? Have I lied or deceived, taken something not mine, or given anyone a bad name? Have I abused my body or permitted indecent thoughts to linger in my mind? Have I failed to do what is right and good?

Silence for personal reflection

M: When each of us realize that we have sinned against God and deserve his punishment, what should each of us do?
C: I will confess before God all my sins, those which I remember as well as those of which I am unaware. I will pray to God for his mercy and forgiveness.

M: Dear friends, let us approach God with a true heart and confess our sins, asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to forgive us.
C: Lord of life, I confess that I am by nature dead in sin. For faithless worrying and selfish pride, for sins of habit and sins of choice, for the evil I have done and the good I have failed to do, you should cast me away from your presence forever. O Lord, I am sorry for my sins. Forgive me, for Jesus sake.

M: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. In his great mercy, God made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our sins. Hear the word of Christ through his called servant:

I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
C: Amen.
M: In the peace of forgiveness, let us sing praise to our Lord.

YOU ARE GOD WE PRAISE YOU (Te Deum by Marty Haugen)

PRAYER OF THE DAY

M: Let us pray.
O God, the strength of all who trust in you, mercifully hear our prayers. Be gracious to us in our weakness
and give us strength to keep your commandments in all we say and do; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

THE WORD

THE FIRST LESSON: Genesis 3:8-15

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

PSALM OF THE DAY: “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman song #209 in Songbook
(Responsive Reading of Psalm 51 with music)

M: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
C: according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.

M: Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
C: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

M: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
C: Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Congregation Sings: Verse 1 & Chorus

M: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
C: Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

M: Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
C: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

M: O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
C: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Congregation Sings: Verse 2 & Chorus

THE SECOND LESSON: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead
will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

VERSE OF THE DAY

C: Alleluia. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Alleluia.

THE GOSPEL LESSON: Mark 3:20-35

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub ! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables:“How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

CHILDREN’S TALK (All children are invited to the front of church.)

HYMN OF THE DAY: 387 “Drawn to the Cross” arranged by the Branches Band

SERMON: TBD

THANKSGIVING

OFFERING
Offertory Music – “Hearts of Stone” by the Branches Band

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH FOR PENTECOST

M: O Lord, our God, you are wise and powerful, good and gracious. Your mercies are new every morning.
Each day you open your hand and provide for the needs of your children on earth.
C: We praise you for every grace and blessing.

M: Strengthen your Church in all the world. Let your comforting message of salvation in Christ Jesus be
proclaimed to troubled souls everywhere.
C: Use our ministries and offerings to extend your healing and your hope.

M: We bring you our requests for the various structures of our society. Bless our nation, state, and local
governments.
C: Grant us civil servants who are worthy of honor and respect.

M: Grant prosperity to our businesses and industries. Give employers a sense of fairness toward their
workers, and employees a feeling of joy and pride in their workmanship.
C: Help us find satisfaction in all work well done.

M: Invigorate the schools of our land. Give success to every effort that helps students read, think, and
communicate in ways that will promote an informed and responsible citizenry. Arouse curious minds to
discover the wonders of your created order.
C: Give us teachers and students who pursue excellence.

M: Strengthen the families of our country. Give fathers and mothers a renewed commitment to be good
parents. Give children and young people the wisdom to regard their parents as your representatives.
C: Lead us to love one another as you have loved us.

M: Hear us, Lord, as we bring you our private petitions.

Silent prayer.

M: Gracious Father, we pray boldly as Jesus taught, with the confidence that you will hear and with the faith
that you will respond for our welfare.
C: Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLESSING

CLOSING SONG: 745 “May the Peace of God” by Keith & Kristin Getty see insert

________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to Worship

We’re so glad to have you with us today! We consider it a privilege to gather together to worship our Lord and hear from Him as he speaks to us from the Bible, His Word. If you are here with us for the first time, please introduce yourself to us and, when you have the opportunity, please sign our guest register, located in the back of the worship area. If you are in need of any assistance at all, please speak with one of our ushers who would be very happy to assist you. May God bless our worship together today!

______________________________________________

Prayer Upon Entering Church

O Lord – our Maker, Redeemer, and Comforter – we are assembled in your presence to hear your holy Word. We pray that you would open our hearts by your Holy Spirit that through the preaching of your Word we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and grow day by day in grace and holiness. Hear us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Children’s Prayer Before Church

Lord Jesus, bless the pastor’s word, Upon my heart, I pray;

That after all is said and heard, I gladly may obey. Amen.

A Personal Confession of Sin

Father, I have sinned against you and am no longer worthy to be called your child. Especially am I sorry for ___________. Yet in mercy you sacrificed your only Son to purge away my guilt. For his sake, O God, be merciful to me, a sinner, and in the joy of your Holy Spirit let me serve you all my days. Amen.

For Obedience to God’s Will

Lord God, give me strength and willingness to say with your Son, “Not my will but your will be done.” Make me cheerful and trusting to bear whatever you let happen to me. From your hand I am willing to take the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow. Keep me from sin, gracious Father, and comfort me with your kind Word. Amen.

Pastor vs Worship Leader

Pastor vs Worship Leader 

In my circles, the term “worship leader” is still a relatively new thing, and actually not even used in the majority of our churches unless you are referring to the Pastor. But there are a growing number of churches in our Synod that are starting to use some blended styles of music which is very exciting, and as a result, a league of young musicians are finding themselves in leadership roles. Here’s my take on the role of the worship leader compared to the Pastor in our Synodical setting. 

Pastor Worship Leader
Is trained and educated in theology Is trained in music
Is responsible for the flock Is a member of the flockResponsible for the band (musically)
Prepares and preaches the sermons Listens intently to the sermon
Chooses the hymns Sings the hymns with gusto
Approves the contemporary song choices and sings the contemporary music with gusto Chooses the contemporary music
Prays for his worship leader Prays for their Pastor
Is the worship leader’s friend Is the Pastor’s friend
Respects and trusts the worship leader Respects and trusts the Pastor
Brings people into membership by teaching God’s word (Holy Spirit brings them to faith) Auditions members for the band
Practices his sermon for hours on end Practices their music for hours on end
Reads the bible and musty old theology books Reads the bible, devotional books, song lyrics and instrumental instructional books
Uses Logos or BibleWorks software Uses Pro Tools, Sibelius, Noteflight, GarageBand, ForScore, and other musically related software
Can actually use these terms in a sentence: sacristy, narthex, unction, adiaophron, flagon, pericope and exegesis Can actually use these terms in a sentence: trill, modulate, gliss, timbre, resonance, palm-muting and capo
Teaches bible class Attends bible class
Knows Isaac Watt’s music pretty well Knows Chris Tomlin’s music pretty well
Knows his scripture Knows their scripture
Teaches God’s word to the flock Teaches young musicians the tools of the trade, tips, tricks and secrets
Administers the sacraments Is a grateful recipient of the sacraments
Writes papers Writes lyrics
Is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted after worship on Sunday Ditto
Would like to meet Jesus, Paul the Apostle, and/or Martin Luther Would like to meet Jesus, King David and/or their favorite contemporary artist
Is the worship leader’s Facebook friend Is the Pastor’s Facebook friend
Know’s the original languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic) Know’s all the key signatures
Packer’s fan (because most of our Pastors come from WI) Local sports fan to wherever the church is located

 

How to Modernize a Hymn – Part two of a two part series

How to Modernize a Hymn – Part two of a two part series

“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” by Michael Schroeder

Let’s consider the doxology put to music, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” which is hymn number 334 in “Christian Worship” (the Lutheran Hymnal).

By looking at the hymn, it’s apparent that it is written in the key of G because it has one sharp.  This already is a guitar friendly key so we are off to a good start.

Next, from the chord tables presented in yesterday’s post, we see that the typical chords in the key of G are going to be G, Am, Bm, C, D, and Em.  Very important!

Next, by looking at the notes, we identify the chords and the best places for the chord changes.  We can see from the lead sheet below that the artist, Michael Schroeder, is using a chord progression consisting of G, D, C and Em which are all in line with our expectations cited above.  We’ll discuss the slash chords and extensions later.

First, let’s look at the intro.  This is the musical hook for the new arrangement.  It’s catchy, it’s a driving beat, it sets the mood for the song, it’s memorable, it’s identifiable, in short, it’s great.  The key to the hook is the chord change from the G(no3) to the Gmaj7(no3) and the transition to the C2(no 3) and the Gmaj7(no 3) / C bass.  These are not very well known chord voicings but once you know them, they sound incredible together.  This is “jazzing up the piece” as identified in step five in yesterday’s post.

Next, let’s look at the lyrics and the structure of the song.  The first and last verse are the same as the hymn verse.  This is great because who wants to mess around with the doxology?  But Schroeder adds two new verses that are biblical and support the overall themes of praise and thanks in the hymn.  He also does a fine job of bringing out our praises to all persons of the Holy Trinity.

He has also added a chorus that does all the things mentioned in yesterday’s post.  Namely, it is lyrically a response to the verse, it is sung higher and with more energy and it is memorable.  It also uses all the major chords (tonic chords) in the key of G – G, C and D.

The structure of the song is Intro, Verse 1, Intro, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus, Verse 4, Outro.  You will also note that the “hook” established in the intro is used as a musical turnaround throughout the song.  The arrangement is nicely and thoughtfully put together.

Finally, Michael Schroeder has done a stellar job of jazzing up the chords.  He’s dropped the third from the G chord converting it to a power chord (essentially a G5 chord), he’s added slash chords to highlight a bass run to go along with the chord changes in the verse, and he’s using a Dsus and a few “2” chords, like the C2 for a real contemporary sound and feel.

All in all, a very fine job.  This is what modernizing a hymn should sound like.

You can listen to a 1.5 minute sound clip of this piece here (song #10):

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/worship/id363944033?uo=4

You can also purchase the CD from the Itunes site, or if you buy it from Michael Schroeder’s website ( www.michaelschroeder.com ), it will also include a free bonus CD with backing tracks, chord charts, lyrics, scripture references, commentaries and power points for each of the songs included on the disc. 

Here’s my recommendations: 

If you are a Pastor who has never tried anything like this before, but you are curious, I would propose to proceed carefully as follows: 

  1. Buy the CD from www.michaelschroeder.com because the dual disc format and the extra resources will prove to be priceless to you.
  2. Use the bonus disc with the backing track for “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” and try it first with your youth or teen group if you have one.  If not, try it with your choir first.  My guess is that your people are going to love it.
  3. Have your choir or the youth group introduce it to the congregation by singing it on any given Sunday.
  4. Get a copy of the lead sheet from this website to your church musicians (pianist and a guitarist are a must for this piece).  Have them practice it until they know it well.
  5. Sing it as a congregation using either the above two-piece band or you can still use the backing track if you don’t have the musicians.
  6. You might want to have a soloist or the choir sing the choruses because the E note is quite high for the average singer.
  7. God be with you.  Email if you have any questions.

For a limited time, you can get the lead sheet by clicking on the following text:

Praise God – MSchroeder

 

How to Modernize a Hymn – Part one of a two part series

How to Modernize a Hymn – Part one of a two part series

I don’t think there are many Christians, even those who use nothing but Contemporary music, that doubt or question the depth and the beauty of the lyrics contained in our wealth of hymns. But sometimes, they are difficult to comprehend or are just too musically foreign to those that we are Called to reach.

There is a process to modernize these hymns and to put chords to them but it’s not easy to do and there are a lot of subtleties that only come with experience and knowledge. In this two-part series, I will try to address one basic approach to do this.

In this first installment, we will consider a step-by-step approach written for a beginner’s level and the second installment will show an example where these types of techniques have been used successfully.

So let’s start…

Step One – Put Chords to it

Here is the process you will need to add your own chords:

  1. Identify the key signature by looking at the number of sharps and flats.

No sharps or flats – key of C or Am
1 Sharp – key of G or Em
2 Sharps – key of D or Bm
3 Sharps – key of A or F#m
4 Sharps – key of E or C#m
5 Sharps – key of B or G#m (rarely used)
6 Sharps – key of F# or D#m (rarely used)
1 flat – key of F or Dm
2 flats – key of Bb or Gm
3 flats – key of Eb or Cm
4 flats – key of Ab or Fm
5 flats – key of Db or Bbm
6 flats – key of Gb or Ebm (rarely used)

  1. Know the typical chords used in each key signature (these are referred to as the harmonized scales):
MAJOR SCALE   R   -   2   -    3    4   -   5   -   6   -   7 
   C  maj.:   C   -   Dm   -   Em   F   -   G   -   Am  -  rarely
   Db maj.:   Db  -   Ebm  -   Fm   Gb  -   Ab  -   Bbm -  used
   D  maj.:   D   -   Em   -   F#m  G   -   A   -   Bm
   Eb maj.:   Eb  -   Fm   -   Gm   Ab  -   Bb  -   Cm
   E  maj.:   E   -   F#m  -   G#m  A   -   B   -   C#m
   F  maj.:   F   -   Gm   -   Am   Bb  -   C   -   Dm
   F# maj.:   F#  -   G#m  -   A#m  B   -   C#  -   D#m
   G  maj.:   G   -   Am   -   Bm   C   -   D   -   Em
   Ab maj.:   Ab  -   Bbm  -   Cm   Db  -   Eb  -   Fm
   A  maj.:   A   -   Bm   -   C#m  D   -   E   -   F#m
   Bb maj.:   Bb  -   Cm   -   Dm   Eb  -   F   -   Gm 
   B  maj.:   B   -   C#m  -   D#m  E   -   F#  -   G#m 

MINOR SCALE   R   -    2      b3  -   4    -       5      b6  -   b7
   A  min.:   Am   -   Bdim   C   -   Dm   -   Em or E    F
   Bb min.:   Bbm  -   Cbdim  Db  -   Ebm  -   Fm or F    Gb
   B  min.:   Bm   -   C#dim  D   -   Em   -   F#m or F#  G 
   C  min.:   Cm   -   Ddim   Eb  -   Fm   -   Gm or G    Ab
   C# min.:   C#m  -   D#dim  E   -   F#m  -   G#m or G#  A
   D  min.:   Dm   -   Edim   F   -   Gm   -   Am or A    Bb
   Eb min.:   Ebm  -   Fdim   Gb  -   Abm  -   Bbm or Bb (B)
   E  min.:   Em   -   F#dim  G   -   Am   -   Bm or B    C 
   F  min.:   Fm   -   Gdim   Ab  -   Bbm  -   Cm or C    Db 
   F# min.:   F#m  -   G#dim  A   -   Bm   -   C#m or C#  D
   G  min.:   Gm   -   Adim   Bb  -   Cm   -   Dm or D    Eb 
   G# min.:   G#m  -   A#dim  B   -   C#m  -   D#m or D#  E
  1. Know what each line and space represent on the treble and bass clefs. (See below)

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons

4. Now the hard part. If you know the key signature by the number of sharps and flats (item 1 above), then you know the basic chords to look for (item 2), and now you should be able to identify all the notes in each grouping of chords on your sheet music by using the chart in item 3. You will also need to know the notes that comprise each chord. Here’s a little help:

A…………….A-C#-E
Am…………..A-C-E
Bb……………Bb-D-F
Bbm………….Bb-Db-F
B……………..B-D#-F#
Bm…………..B-D-F#
C…………….C-E-G
Cm…………..C-Eb-G
C# (or Db)….. C#-F-G# or (Db-F-Ab)
C#m (or Dbm).C#-E-G# or (Db-E-Ab)
D…………….D-F#-A
Dm…………..D-F-A
Eb……………Eb-G-Bb
Ebm …………Eb-Gb-Bb
E……………..E-G#-B
Em………….. E-G-B
F……………..F-A-C
Fm………….. F-Ab-C
F# (or Gb)……F#-A#-C#
F#m (or Gbm).F#-A-C#
G…………… G-B-D
Gm………….G-Bb-D
Ab………………Ab-B-Eb
Abm……………Ab-Bb-Eb

5. Many hymns that don’t have guitar chords do so for a reason, and typically it is because every note in the melody line theoretically requires a different guitar chord. If this is the case, your song will sound too choppy with a chord change on every beat. Songs that lend themselves well to guitar accompaniment typically have a chord change at the start of the measures or sometimes at the mid-point of the measures. For example, a song in 4/4 time might have a chord change before the first and maybe the third beats. Even if you’re hymn requires a unique chord for each note in the melody line – don’t do it! If 4/4 time, stick to the chord changes on the first and third beats. Also, listen for the “strong beats” and put the chord changes on those particular notes.

6. When you have finished putting chords to a musical piece, sit back and look at the song in its entirety, as opposed to the note-by-note study that you have just finished. Look for overriding chord patterns or progressions. Sometimes, you can delete certain chords that you have identified and use fewer chords that fit into an overall theme for the song. It also sometimes helps to replace the chord names with Roman numerals and then to look for repeating patterns.

This technique should get you started. There are other more advanced issues such as numbered chords (C2, C5, Csus, C7, etc.) and slash chords (D/A, D/F#, D/G, etc.) but these can come later.

Step Two – Consider adding a Chorus and maybe a Bridge

The Chorus:
Most hymns only have verses. Lots of verses. These verses tell a story. Sometimes it’s nice to respond to these verses with either a chorus or refrain and sometimes it’s nice to alter the musical accompaniment with a bridge.

When writing a chorus, think of it as an answer to the story being told in the verse. Also, the chorus is usually sung a bit higher than the verse and with more energy. Choruses are usually the “hook” of the song; they are the part that people will remember and sing throughout the upcoming week. The chorus will have a stronger chord progression than the more fragile verses and the chorus will typically use more of the tonic key notes than in the verses. Choruses can also talk about feelings, or how you should feel about the story being told in the verses. A good example of a hymn with a great chorus that you undoubtedly know is “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Another good example would be Chris Tomlin’s recent adaptation of “Amazing Grace” with his iconic chorus “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns. Unending love. Amazing Grace.” - Wow!

The Bridge:
The bridge offers melodic, lyrical and even harmonic variation. Bridges can be a welcome addition to hymns because the verses and even the chorus can be very repetitive. Oftentimes, bridges in songs written in major keys start with a minor chord and vice versa, and they almost never start with the tonic chord.

Next you will need a formula for the structure of your new hymn. Consider something like:
Verse 1, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus, Bridge, Verse 4, Chorus, End

But there are unlimited combinations.

Step Three – Consider updating the lyrics

Read through the hymn lyrics. If they are in our CW hymnbook, they will be pretty awesome. However, some hymns use too many churchy words, too many archaic words, phrases no longer in use, old English, phrases that just didn’t translate well into English from the original language the hymn was written in and what I’ll call reverse poetry. Keep all these things if the hymn sings well and makes sense to you. Only make changes if the lyrics require you to research and study them immensly before you get the picture. Our hymnal has actually already come a long way. There were massive revisions between our current hymnal and it’s predecessor so you might be OK in this regard.

If you change lyrics, make sure that you do not change the message, the rhythm, or the meter (the number of syllables per measure). You may find a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus to be helpful in this regard.

Step Four – Consider adding a Musical Turn Around

Most hymns just seem to run into a musical brick wall at the end of a verse and then awkwardly go back to the beginning. Update this! Add a short musical turn-around, perhaps just a measure or two, but find a way to musically tie the ending back to the beginning.

I know that many of you reading this post are in my denomination and have probably heard the band known as “Branches.” They have a great example of a musical turn around in their arrangement of “How Great Thou Art.” Just listen to Andy Braun and the band use a few simple chords to turn the end of each verse into a transition to get back to the beginning and you will know exactly what I am talking about. Braun’s turn-around makes an incredible hymn even more incredible and that’s the point of this effort.

Step Five – Consider Jazzing it Up

There are many ways to do this. Consider modulating the last verse up or down a whole step, or even a minor third, depending on the mood of the song. Or, take an instrumental break in between verses or simply add an intro. Another idea would be to use some chord extensions like ninths, elevenths, thirteenths or even major sevenths. Another thing you can do is add a few slash chords with inherent bass runs to connect the chords together.

Step Six – Say a Prayer of Thanks; you’ve made it.

Whew! That was a lot of work; but that hymn you’re considering redoing is worth it.

Tomorrow we will consider an example. “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” that was redone by musician Michael Schroeder in 2010.