Many of you know that this is an acronym for “Hymn of the Day.” The HOTD is the musical piece that precedes the sermon. Lyrically it is the hardest hitting piece of the worship set, is spot-on with the readings and sometimes is even referred to by the Pastor in his sermon.
The relationship between the pastor and the worship leader, or the musical director depending on your church’s nomenclature, is a delicate but fulfilling friendship; at least it always has been for me. It is a relationship that takes time to develop. It is a relationship that needs to be worked at, prayed over, and a certain level of trust needs to be established before true harmony can shine in their worship planning together.
The relationship is a wonderful two way street of learning, sharing and supporting. To be truthful, the information flow is usually more from the Pastor to the Worship Leader who has usually not had any formal theological training (as in my case) but I will say this, our Pastor now knows who both Keith Getty & Chris Tomlin are and he’s even added a few contemporary pieces to his list of favorites, and I now know that pericope is not part of a submarine and I know the differences between propers and ordinaries.
One of the things that our Pastor brought to our church, and has taught me, is a format that he likes to use for the HOTD. I’m not sure where this came from, but his preference is to introduce the hymn with a musical lead-in and then to have a musical interlude between the last two verses. For a musician, this is a delight, and it doesn’t matter if you are an organist playing a hymn or a praise band member joining in on the latest contemporary piece. This is your chance to glorify God and to serve your people in a very special way. It is a chance to use your gifts and to use that God-given creativity. And I also must say, that when sitting in the pew, this is also a very special worship moment for the people in attendance because for me, it’s a respite where I take advantage of the musical backdrop to think about what I am saying in that particular song.
On traditional Sundays, our organists actually pull out a fugue or other favorite classical piece in the same key as the hymn to use as their interlude. On blended Sundays, either our keyboard player or the guitarist plays a solo typically based off the melody line. We use this format throughout the church year, with the exception of during Lent.
It is a worship practice that I recommend to you. The only word of caution is that the Pastor needs to announce your intentions before the piece is played, otherwise your people won’t know to keep silent during the interlude.