“God, I will sing a new song to you; I will play on a ten-stringed harp for you — the one who gives victory to kings, who frees his servant David from the deadly sword.”Psalm 144:9-10 (CSB)
About this time last year, we set in motion a plan for our contemporary worship that I had hoped would transform our corporate praise. A year later, I feel pretty confident about its success. Best part is you may have not even noticed.
After much deliberation and discussions with members of the praise team and with the other members of the pastoral staff, we all agreed that refining our regular worship “library” down to 25 songs was a good idea. We proceeded with careful evaluation of the songs we used regularly, assigned theme and place in service tags for each song, and filtered for “quality”. The end result has blessed our worship for the past twelve months and has enabled us to praise our God with renewed joy.
I had become increasingly aware that the song library I had developed in the years had gotten too extensive. Believe it or not, I had inherited a song list with over 140 songs in it. As we transitioned into a more modern song list, I was less concerned about the quantity of songs, and more about thematic connections between songs and liturgical content (readings, sermons, feast days in the church year, etc.). What resulted was music that may have fit nicely, but lacked familiarity and ultimately led to diminished participation. It wasn’t uncommon for a song to be used once in a 52-week period. While 25 seems low (it certainly seemed low to me at first), it equates to any single song being used in worship 8-10 times in a 52-week period. This means that if regular worship attendance is 2-3 times per month, one might only hear a song 4-5 times.
Increased familiarity was the goal; among both the worshiping congregation as well as among the praise team. The results are clear. It has been a great joy to hear vibrant praise being sung in worship, and visitors to our services recognize our faith family as one who expresses outward praise. This is what worship in the house of the Lord is all about: that God be praised.
As we progress through the summer, it is my intention to introduce 3-4 new songs, shuffling out a couple from last year, maintaining a maximum of 25 songs in our regular worship library. This May, you will hear a new opening worship song titled, “House of the Lord,” by Phil Wickham. I pray this song, and all the others that comprise our more limited library, blesses our worship and allows us to lift the name of our Lord high.