Category Archives: Openers and Closers

The Importance of the Opening Song

The Importance of the Opening Song


Welcome to Worship

One hundred people enter from all walks of life.  Some are struggling with addictions, some with divorce, some with a job they don’t like, some with mis-behaving children, some with family troubles, some are over-worked, some are in financial ruin, some are dealing with loss, some are looking for work, some struggle with disease, some are overwhelmed, some are near to death, some are depressed, some are insecure, some are feeling heaps of guilt from a signature sin, some are bewildered, some doubt God’s existence, some wonder if God hears their prayers, some need counseling, some are perfectionists, some are burned out, all are sinners, and some actually think they are normal and trouble-free.  These are the people I worship with every Sunday.  I am one of them. Welcome to worship.

“We open this morning’s worship in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” – Your Pastor

Now that deserves a response! It is time for the opening song.

My favorite song location is the “Hymn of the Day.”  It is sung right before the sermon and to the best of our ability is lyrically spot-on with his message and the scripture readings.

Next to the HOTD, my song of choice is the opening congregational piece because the Spirit can use this song to help prepare the tribe of varied worshippers with their myriad mindsets into a unified group of believers and followers with one common goal – if not only for the next hour.  This is the song that the Holy Spirit can use to level the playing field.  This is the song that helps to prepare our minds for worship.  This is the song that delineates the worship service from the rest of the weekly grind. This is the wake up call.  This is the call to worship. Reveille! This song is the trend setter for the mood of the service to follow. This song is powerful because the Spirit is present in the gathered assembly. You are in worship and your problems, troubles, concerns and thoughts are minimized in comparison to the Almighty.  He can handle all of these burdens before blinking if He so desires.

How To Choose This Song

There are several hints in the preceding paragraph.  It is a wake up call – it can be lively.  It prepares people for worship – it should be edifying and pointing to God. It is used by the Holy Spirit – it needs to be grounded in scriptural truths. It needs to show who is in charge and it’s not you, your family, your job, your financial situation, your anything – it is Christ centered, or Gospel centered, or God centered. It’s like a compass always pointing to the truth.  It is a piece that people can rely on.  It is a piece that helps to carry them through the upcoming week. The song should move their heart, mind, body and soul.

Looking for a Few God Songs?

Meaty Hymns:

  • Blessed Jesus, at Your Word
  • Stand Up! Stand Up! For Jesus – try singing this one      actually standing up for a change.
  • God Himself is Present
  • To Your Temple I Draw Near
  • Now the Silence

New Songs:

  • Gather in His Name – by Gwen Smith and Carl Cartee
  • Enter This Temple – by Leland Mooring
  • Here I Am Lord – Dan Schutte
  • Here With Me – Bart Millard
  • Here for You – by Matt Reman and Matt Maher
  • Here – by Kari Jobe
  • Meet Us Here – Mike Honholtz

Music to Close Your Worship Service

Finding contemporary music to match the day’s worship theme is not easy, especially if you need to find four or five songs per Sunday.  You can make this a little easier by making sure that the hymn of the day (HOTD) is a tight match to the  readings but the opening song and closing song in particular can have themes to match their purpose.  For example, here are three songs to use as a close to your worship service.  All three have beautiful closing/blessing messages, are corporate  friendly for singing and if you have blended worship services on a monthly basis, you can reuse these throughout the year.  Now one of your song choices is already done.

“Peace be Yours” by Blair A’Hearn (BOB #83)
“May the Peace of God” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend (CWS 745)
“Go Out as people of God” by Gloria Lien (BOB #69)

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Divine Bookends

Divine Bookends

With a new Pastor, comes some new ideas & new practices.


One of the things that our new Pastor has instructed me to do is to consider beginning each service with a song that has a message that helps to prepare us for worship.   He does this with hymns and my task is to do it with contemporary music as well.  Unfortunately our songbook’s thematic index does not have this as a category, so I paged though the songs and found the following song choices to be appropriate as opening music:


“All Over Again” by Michael Zehnder

“Because of Your Love” by Paul Baloche

“Celebrate the Lord of Love” by Paul Baloche and Ed Kerr

“Come and Behold Him” by John Chisum

“Come and See” by Lenny Leblanc

“Enter In” by Billy Christopher

“Here in This Place” by Bobbly L. Schroeder

“I Want to be Where You Are” by Don Moen

“Let it Rise” by Holland Davis

“Lift Him Up” by Billy Funk

“Only by Grace” by Gerrit Gustafson


While I’m at it, here are some contemporary songs that have closing or benediction-like messages:


“Everyday a Celebration of His Love” by DeGarmo & Key

“May the Peace” by Keith Getty

“Peace be Yours” by Blaire A’Hearn

“the Hope of Your Call” by Don Chapman

“the Lord Bless You” by Don Chapman


These songs are “divine bookends” for our worship.