Easter songs for the youth choir

While searching the web for some Easter song ideas for youth choirs to share with you, I came across a website called Learn Gospel Music.com. One of the members there posted a nice list of Easter songs that work well for youth choirs. I thought I’d share that with you here. Be sure to go check out Learn Gospel Music.com also. It looks like a great forum community for gospel musicians.

Now, here’s that list!

Deep Love (Joshua’s Troop)

God Is Not Dead (Joshua’s Troop)

God Made Me (Mississippi Children’s Choir)

He Died For Me (Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago)

He Didn’t Have To Do It (GMWA Youth Mass Choir)

I Love You (Lord Today) (Edwin Hawkins, Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago)

I Love You Jesus (Mississippi Children’s Choir)

I Know It Was The Blood (Nu Hymnz)

I’m In Love With Jesus Christ (Rev. Timothy Wright)

John 3:16 (GMWA Youth Mass Choir)

Lord I Lift Your Name On High (Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago)

The Blood (Canton Gospel Soul Children)

This Is The Gospel Of Jesus Christ (Hezekiah Walker)

Praise teams- Is there such a thing as too much new music?

I had an interesting conversation with the praise team last night a rehearsal. We were learning a new song- two, actually. As recently as last week we learned and presented another new song.  About 3 weeks ago, I believe,   we introduced two other new songs. In fact here lately we’ve been introducing new material at a pretty high clip. As we were discussing even more new material we wanted to do soon, I brought up something I’ve actually written about before. In fact I had already decided it would be my topic for today’s blog before I ever went to rehearsal. It is, I told them, exciting to learn and present new material. I love it! But there can also be a downside that can work against a praise team if you’re not careful.

Remember, I told them, what our goal is. We’re trying to lead the audience in praise and worship. We want them to have a real, engaged praise and worship experience. We don’t want them to be spectators, or just kinda sitting back enjoying the show. We want them actually participating in the praise and worship. We want them not just sitting back watching and listening to us sing praise and worship, we want them to sing along also. That can be more difficult to achieve when the audience doesn’t know the song. Even if they really enjoy it, it’s not quite the same as the experience that happens when the praise team sings that song that everyone is familiar with and loves.  There’s a different kind of “corporate” worship that happens then. Praise teams must walk a fine line in song selection and the balance of new material vs. older, familiar material, in my humble opinion. It’s very easy to find yourself in a situation where the audience is watching YOU praise and worship God in song, but not really doing so themselves.

To be fair though, we didn’t all agree on this point.  Some of the members made the point that if we’re doing simple, easy, repetitive songs the audience can and often does catch on and participate. Those kinds of songs, our drummer added, are the best kinds to do, and as long as we’re doing those, he said, it doesn’t really matter how often we’re doing new material. I definitely agreed with him on the point he made about simple, repetitive songs. Our worship leader was in agreement with that also. She pointed out that she had in fact been deliberately choosing those kinds of songs for that particular reason; so the congregation could catch on quickly and participate in the worship experience.

I agreed with all of that, but there was one more point I thought we were missing that you might want to consider with your own praise team. I shared with the group that all of their points were great and I agreed with them. But if we’re doing new songs so often that we don’t get familiar enough with the older ones to do them without a rehearsal, then we’ll always be in place where we can’t just flow in the spirit and still be doing prepared, rehearsed material.

This actually causes us some issues sometimes, particularly when we decide we want to do one of those songs in an up-coming service. We get together and start working on the song, and lo and behold what I thought would take us a few minutes ends up taking an hour. Why? Because we sing the song(s) so infrequently that every time we do them we have to learn them all over again. If we’re doing new material of some kind 2 or 3 Sundays out of a month and there are only 4-5 Sundays available, that doesn’t give us much time for repetition of things we’ve already learned.

A great example of that is the 2 new songs we did 3 weeks ago. They went over great and the congregation loved it. Tore the church up! So much to that the pastor made us do them again the same morning! But guess what? We haven’t done either of those songs again since then, and we’re already doing more new material this Sunday. And when the songs were brought up the leader of one of them could barely remember them. So 2-3 weeks from now when we have our first opportunity to perhaps do one or both of those songs again, how do you think rehearsal will go? And by then, how many times will we have done the ones we’re singing this Sunday? I’m thinking we won’t have done them again. Nor will we have done the new song we just did last Sunday again by then.

I hope my efforts to give you a clear understanding of how lots of new music can actually hinder your praise team doesn’t come across as condescending or in any way some kind of negative opposition to the other members opinions that I shared with you. In fact I thought the conversation was productive and respectful, which I was both proud of and grateful for. It offered two ways to look at an issue that quite often nobody pays attention to at all. And, to be fair, my worship leader has been pushing us to learn and present new material at an accelerated pace for very good reason. Our repertoire was old, stale and ineffective. She’s doing an absolutely fantastic job with the team and we support each other 100%. It is though, something I think all praise teams should be aware of and perhaps discuss from time to time.

I’d love to hear what you think on this issue! Share your opinion in the comment section below. By the way, you can find this article and 12 more like it in my e-book Praise Team 101. 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not feeling it.”; What to do when you don’t like the song

Do it anyway.  Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Ron

A big part of me was tempted to post this article just like that. Partly to see what kind of response I’d get and partly because honestly that’s how I feel sometimes. It’s no secret, or at least it shouldn’t be, that you’re not gonna be crazy about every song that comes to you in music ministry. As a leader there will be some you don’t like as much. As a director there will be some you love to direct and some you don’t like directing. As a musician there will be some you just don’t like, period. Everybody gets that….right? I mean, we get that right?

Certainly none of my savvy, intelligent readers expects that every song will touch their very soul and send them straight to heaven. Even if it is Gospel/Christian music. It would simply be impossible for every song to please every member of any music ministry. But we still have a job to do every Sunday, don’t we? So the question becomes how much do you have to “feel” a song before you can do it? Do you have to like every song you’re asked to do before you’ll say yes? Do you have to be in a great mood, fresh off a fantastic day, well-rested with no personal issues, all your proverbial traffic lights showing green? Um, no. You don’t. And if you’re saying no to songs for anything other than the reasons I’m about to list below, then I hope to change your outlook by the end of this article.

First let’s establish what I’m NOT addressing so we have that clear up-front. There are some songs out there that are just not right for you. Not lyrically sound. Not doctrinally sound. Just plain wrong for your group or your audience. All music and no message. I don’t feel those either. So let’s take those out of this discussion before it starts.

But this phrase “I’m not feeling it” is used a lot in music ministries all over the world when none of the situations above exist. It’s used in reference to great songs with powerful lyrics, great music and dripping with spiritual anointing. It’s used in reference to songs that are perfect for your choir, your praise team, your voice. So who’s using this phrase and why? Quite frankly, it’s often used by people who really don’t have any really good reason for saying no to a song other than the fact that they just don’t want to do it for whatever reason.

I won’t try to list all the possible reasons people say no. I’m not in a position to say what’s a valid reason and what isn’t, you know what I mean? But here’s the thing. If you find yourself saying this or something like it frequently when you’re asked to step up and do something in your music ministry; whether it’s leading, playing or directing a song you’re not crazy about, then chances are you’re using the whole “I’m not feeling it” thing as an excuse to avoid doing what’s asked of you for personal reasons.  Every music ministry depends on it’s more gifted members being willing to step up and do what’s asked of them if they’re able. That is, after all, why you’re being asked to do whatever it is that’s being asked of you.  Because the ministry needs you. It’s also why you were given the gift in the first place.

To continue to decline or refuse to do songs that you know in your heart you’re perfectly capable of doing for not much more than your own selfish reasons is simply a sign of spiritual immaturity. And frankly, to continue to do so is to play a very dangerous game with God where your gift is concerned. Romans 12:1 speaks of presenting your body as a living sacrifice because it’s your “reasonable service”. In much the same way, when you’re a part of a music ministry and God has given you special gifts and abilities that He didn’t give other people, it is your reasonable service sometimes to step up and do a song that you many not be “feeling” or crazy about for the sake of that ministry.

In over 30 years of teaching songs I have taught literally hundreds. You think maybe I ran across a few of them I didn’t care for? Of course, constantly. But I personally take great pride in making sure that when I’m up in front of a group teaching a song there is no indication of how I feel about that song personally. I teach with a lot of energy and passion and enthusiasm when I like the song, and just as much when I don’t. Because the fact is, I understand that if I didn’t it could have a profound effect on the group’s attitude as a whole.

Think about it for a minute. What if, for example, every time your choir director or your musician(s) didn’t personally like a song or just didn’t feel like it, they simply refused to teach/direct/play it? How crippling would that be for your music department? Think of your favorite song by your all-time favorite artist. Have you ever thought about how many times an artist has to perform a song that has become a hit? Over and over again, hundreds of times?  You’re being naive if you think they’re excited and feeling it every time.

The point I’m trying to drive home here is that in music ministries we need EVERYBODY. And when you’re asked to step up and do something that’s why you’re being asked. Because we need you.  And if I can really keep it real with you, if we had someone else to ask we would. Because honestly, begging people to come forth gets really old really fast. Listen, don’t be that person, ok? You don’t have to be excited about every song. You don’t have to necessarily like the song. It’s ok if you’re tired, or you had a long day. We all did. God placed you there and gave you that gift for a reason.  Always remember music ministry isn’t about you. It’s not about me. It’s about God.

Image courtesy of chrisroll FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finding the worship flow; 3 ways to break your praise team out of the “A & B selection” mentality

Do you ever feel like your praise team is kinda missing something in their delivery of worship? You’ve seen those praise teams that just have this “flow” in their service. Things just naturally move from one song to another in a kind of organic way.  Sadly though, for many younger, newly established praise teams it’s more like “and now for our next number”.

I referred to it in the subject line as the A&B selection mentality. I realize that I have readers from many backgrounds, nationalities and even a few different countries who might have NO CLUE what I’m talking about there, so let me briefly explain. The term “an A & a B selection” is an old term that has been used for many years in the black church.  You’d hear the emcee announce “And now the choir will come to us with an A & a B selection”. It simply meant that the choir would be singing 2 songs (I’m speaking as if this term isn’t still being used, lol!).  The two songs don’t necessarily have anything in common with each other besides the fact that they’re both Gospel songs.

This is fine for a choir, group or ensemble. For a praise team though, it’s not the ideal way to go. A praise team’s job is to help set an atmosphere that encourages  corporate praise and/or worship. We want everyone to be in a place where they are communing with God in a very personal way.   As such a praise team must seek to do more than just simply sing two praise team songs. Many praise teams, for example, feel that because it’s “praise and worship” we must sing a fast song (for the praise) and a slow song (for the worship). There’s not much thought put into it beyond that though.

As a result, many praise teams find that even when the audience is enjoying their selections, they fall short of creating that atmosphere of worship. It ends up a lot like a mini version of the choir. So in order to really be effective a praise team has to break out of this “one song, then another song” way of ministering. Here are 3 ways you can help your praise team develop that natural, organic worship style where worship seems to just kind of evolve from one stage to the next.

1. Look for songs of similar subject matter.

Find songs that have similar lyrical content. These songs will feel more natural when you sing them back to back because one will feel like a continuation of the same thought or message.

2. Try doing songs with similar tempo/feel

Don’t get too locked into thinking you have to do a fast song and a slow song. Think instead about songs that have a similar tempo or feel. I.e, two up-tempo songs rather than one really up-tempo song and then a very slow worship song with totally different subject matter.

3. Try to avoid the “dead stop” between songs

Even if the tempo of the next song is dramatically different than the one before, the most effective praise teams find ways to make the transition between the two feel natural and smooth. Your musician(s) (can be an integral part of helping make this happen). Try to avoid ending a song and completely stopping down. Instead look for ways to connect and transition out of one song and into the next. Here’s one example we did recently using two songs with totally different tempos but very similar lyrical content.

We sang VaShawn Mitchel’s “Chasing After You” and transitioned out of that into a very slow song, More, More, More by Joan Rosario. The two are very different as far as feel and tempo, but they worked great together because “Chasing After You” ends with the lyrics repeating  “more and more”.  We simply came out of that and into the chorus of More, More, More.

Get the idea? This is not only a very effective way to help take your praise team’s ministry to new heights, but it’s really fun to do and you’ll get into it once you get started.  In fact, let’s start now! Leave me a comment below and tell me two praise and/or worship songs that would be great together back to back.

If you found this article helpful and would like more information like this for your praise/worship team you can get 12 more just like it in my new e-book Praise Team 101.

 

 

What kinds of songs does God like most?

There is no secret that God finds music and singing very important in scripture. I did a search using just the words sing, sang , sung and singing and was able to pull up 137 scriptures that reference one of those words specifically. But with all the different kinds of Christian songs being done now, I started to wonder if there is a certain kind of song God likes or seems to prefer. Is there a certain kind that stands out more in scripture?

So I went looking. And while I was not surprised at all to find singing and music mentioned so often, I was definitely surprised to learn that God definitely has a favorite! It appears that of all the different kinds of songs the bible mentions- all the different ways songs and music are used and all the different kinds of songs mentioned, there is one kind mentioned more in the bible than any other kind of song. That is songs to God, or to the Lord.

There are more scriptures that tell us to sing songs this way than any other way. The bible does mention singing songs about God, about teaching, doctrine, hymns, etc. But no other kind of singing is mentioned in the bible more than singing to God or to the Lord. In one article I was reading on the subject, the writer shared that his own research counted no less than 60 scriptures that tell us specifically to sing unto the Lord or to God. Here are just a few as examples:

Acts 16:25 Romans 15:9 Ephesians 5:19 Col 3:16 Hebrews 2: 12 Exodus 15:21 Exodus 15:21 Exodus 15:21 Judges 5:3 2 Sam 22:50 1 Chronicles 16:9

That’s just 10 scriptures that encourage us to sing this kind of song. They go on and on throughout the bible, from the first mention of singing until the last. Col 3:16 is probably one of the most well-known of all scriptures about singing because it gives us the blue print of what God wants us to sing about.

When you start thinking about all of the most powerful, most endearing songs of today you realize many of them do just that. Think about Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise”. Decades later it’s still one of the most powerful songs ever written. I believe it’s because it does everything scripture tells us God wants us to do in a song. It sings of His mercy, His grace, His peace, His power, strength-

” Lord I will lift mine eyes to the hills/ knowing my help comes from You/ Your peace You give me in times of the storm. You are the source of my strength/ You are the strength of my life/ I lift my hands in total praise to You”.

These are the kinds of songs God seems to love above all other kinds.

When you really search the scripture and begin looking at the kinds of songs that were sung (you can find the actual lyrics to songs in many places in the bible) it really makes you more aware of just how “wrong” a lot of the songs are that we hear today. Songs that talk about other people, or songs that were written to scold, beat-up on or reprimand (I won’t list examples but I could- especially in Gospel).

So really, what we have here is a very clear and easy way to choose songs that you know will please God. Songs that talk directly to God or to the Lord using first person and personal pronouns. When you sing songs that talk of his goodness, mercy, grace, power, love (I could go on and on with that list)…and you sing them directly to Him…you will be singing a song near and dear to the very heart of God.

Your praise team will be blessed by this article! Get 13 articles like this one in my latest e-book “Praise Team 101”. 

 

Why God wants us to sing; ALL of us

I was just sitting here, searching the web,  looking for guidance and inspiration from God about today’s blog as I usually do when I came across something pretty profound that I’d like to share with you.  This is a video featuring a clip from an interview with Bob Kauflin, who spoke at the 2008 Desiring God National Conference.  The one thing I want you to take away from today’s blog is that God loves it when we sing to Him. And He wants us ALL to sing.

The video is a little over 4 minutes long, and I’d like to submit it as my blog today. I know you’ll be blessed as I was.