Why Are We Singing This Song?
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:1-4
Have you wondered why we sing the particular songs we sing during Sunday Services? I get this question from time to time, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to respond to it. Let me start by listing some of the false reasons:
- The Lead Worshiper chooses the set list based solely upon their personal playlist & favorites
- We only sing the trendiest songs you hear on Christian radio
- We choose songs based upon what every other church is singing
- It's whatever mood the Music Team is in that week
- The Music Team plays whatever Pastor Joe tells us to
While personal taste and awareness of new songs may play a role in putting together a set list, there are several key factors which influence the song choices for a particular week.
1) Listening to the Lord - Before I put any set list together, I pray and ask for God to open my heart to what is on His heart that week. It could be a word, phrase or verse from Scripture that comes to mind. It could be something that He's revealed during my personal worship time with Him. It could be an event or story has stuck with me for awhile. Or He could even use a conversation I've recently had with someone. The goal is to sing the songs that God already knows would best glorify Him and bless the Body that day.
2) Theme for that Sunday - Whether it's a book of the Bible or a topical series, the message for the week is a key influence for song selection. Ideally, a Sunday Service worship experience will flow seamlessly through its different elements. Message and music are "cornerstones" for our corporate worship services. But special elements such as prayer, testimonies, ministry updates, communions, baptisms and creative arts also help provide a more wholistic worship experience of our God who is creative, diverse and worthy of our best worship offering.
3) Theme for the series - Expanding beyond a weekly focus, our songs often reflect the current message series that Cornerstone is going through. For example, we just concluded our "Living in the Fullness of the Spirit" series that began in January. As we learned about Holy Spirit every Sunday, it made sense to sing songs that resonated the same truth about Him. Not every song in the set focused on Holy Spirit, but being able to respond with a song after the message allows us to draw the alignment between worshipping God with our hearts as well as our minds.
4) The Music Team Lineup - We are blessed to have enough volunteers to field a "full" music team almost every Sunday. A full team includes multiple vocalists (both male and female) and multiple instruments (keys, guitars, bass, drums). Some weeks we're blessed to have special instruments such as saxophones and violins. On the other hand, we occasionally will field an "acoustic" music team, which could be as small as 2 or 3 people. One lineup is not better than the other, as they each provide a different ambience and environment for musical worship. But what pieces you have to play with on any given Sunday impacts your song selection. Doing a driving, loud and energetic song sounds differently from a single musician than it does from a full band. Conversely, a stripped down team consisting of a guitarist and a cajonist creates an intimate and organic worship environment. Finding the right songs to compliment your lineup is an art!
There are many other considerations that also influence our song selection. Do we have a nice balance of upbeats (clapping!) vs. ballads (raised arms!)? Is this song unfamiliar and thus needs to be taught vs. has this song been done way too many times? Is there a balance of traditional hymns vs. contemporary songs? Is the song vertical (blessing God) or horizontal (blessing others)? Are we singing about God (His character and works) or to God (relational, "I love you")? Is the Gospel being communicated in any of this week's songs? The list goes on and on!
The type of songs we love to sing, like so many things in life, are very subjective. It's impossible to appease everybody all the time when it comes to the songs we sing on Sundays. But what we should agree upon is why we sing these songs to the Lord. For me, Psalm 96 summarizes that quite simply: God is great, and greatly to be praised!!
We Singing this song for god.
Godalways with us.
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