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Church Musician Newsletter, Issue #6, June 2005 - Summer Break
June 15, 2005
Greetings,


How do you spend your summer?   Hopefully things slow down, even if you have to coax them a little by taking a vacation or planning a sabbatical.  I like to review the year and begin planning for the next one - sort of following a school year mentality.

In reviewing and planning, it's always good to be reminded what makes a good corporate worship song - so we'll look at that in our Feature Article this month.

I hope you enjoy this month's issue.


Newsletter Topics

Church Musician Tips
Upcoming Events
Church Musician Jobs Updates
Featured Article
Pass It On


Church Musician Tips

One of the greatest benefits of this newsletter is learning from each other.

Here's your chance to sound off about anything church musician job related.   So, share a tip with this growing list of church musicians.   Just something practical.   Think of what is working where you are. Write 250-300 words about it.

Just REPLY to this newsletter.   Then watch for your tip to appear in an upcoming newsletter.

This Month's Tip

With Summer finally here it is time to get away.   This might take the form of a vacation with friends and family, or a long weekend break, and for some who have tremendous support systems, a month's sabbatical.

Whichever of these describes you, you need a break.   Remember Elijah?   In 1 Kings 18 we read an amazing story of miraculous events that he was right in the middle of.   But notice the next chapter.   He told God he'd had enough!   Emotionally and spiritually exhausted from the preceding events, he ran for his life.   He wanted to check out and never come back!   But, God told him to rest and eat.

So, if this great man of God needed a break, what about you?   Aren't you also engaged in a spiritual battle urging people to worship the true God instead of the "gods" our culture?

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Upcoming Events

Coming up June 13-15 and June 14-16, at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina, Darlene Zschech, Worship Director, from Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, will be presenting "Fully Devoted To Jesus".

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Church Musician Jobs Updates


Featured Article

What Makes a Good Corporate Worship Song?

written by Bob Kauflin, copyright 2003 Sovereign Grace Ministries

As new CDs find their way to my CD player each week, I've noticed that an increasing number are advertised as containing "worship songs." Given the unusually broad range of styles and topics found in these songs, I'm forced to ask myself a basic question: What in the world IS a worship song?

Any song can be a worship song in the broad sense, if it is written or performed for the glory of God, or listened to for the purpose of exalting God. As I've listened to a Beethoven piano sonata, I've found myself praising God for the beautiful harmonies, moving melodies, and creative rhythmic structure. Should we therefore call it a "worship song?" I don't think so. The term "worship song" is probably most helpful when it is confined to describing those songs that God's people use when praising Him corporately. Good worship songs, then, should have certain characteristics that enable God's people to declare his praise together.

Here are three elements that come to mind.

First, the lyrics of a corporate worship song should be clearly related to biblical truth and a scriptural worldview.

    Worship songs are not simply the outpouring of my feelings or thoughts about God, however intensely I might be experiencing them. Even the emotional outpourings of the Psalms are nearly always accompanied by a clear reference to the character or actions of the God who is being addressed. Worship is God's idea and God's gift to us, made possible through the atoning sacrifice of His Son on the cross. It is my right response to who God is and what He has done. A good worship song, then, should contain some aspect of who God is or who we are in Christ, and it should be expressed in a way that everyone can understand.

Second, worship songs should be easy-to-sing (more or less) for almost anyone.

    A song can inspire me to worship God but be ineffective for use in a congregation. More than once I've introduced a song in my church that ended up being too difficult for people to learn. On the other hand, when an unfamiliar style has made a melody seem impossible to learn, repetition has sometimes enabled the congregation to adapt. But care should always be taken to write and present songs that people can enjoy singing together.

Third, good worship songs intentionally and successfully exalt God over against our own creativity.

    While we want always to be seeking fresh ways of communicating eternal truths, "there is a level beyond which literature cannot rise if it is to be good hymnody" (Erik Routley, respected 20th-century hymnologist). The same can be said of music. In corporate settings of worship, art in general, and music in particular, should direct our attention and focus immediately to truths about the God we worship. Worship songs cease to be effective when creative lyrical or musical hooks dominate our thoughts and distract us from focusing on the One whose praise they are meant to inspire. This can be a tough lesson for gifted musicians to learn; it's why sometimes a lesser musician can actually contribute more to a worship team than a better musician who has yet to "get it."

Biblical words, easily sung melodies, and focused creativity: while certainly not a comprehensive list of what makes a good worship song, this gives us a place to start as we begin our discussion of the praise and worship movement.

written by Bob Kauflin, copyright 2003 Sovereign Grace Ministries

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Until next month, may grace and peace by yours,
Jim Snedeker
church musician jobs

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