How wide is your repertoire?

[notice]Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.[/notice]

“Very Wide: We sings songs from Vineyard and Hillsongs, Kingsway and Hosanna. ….”

“Very Wide: We sing songs by Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, Michael W Smith, Dave Billborough, Chris Tomlin, Graham Kendrick, Darlene Zschech, Stuart Townend ….”

“Very Wide: We sing the familiar Hymns, old-time Choruses, some Taize, Gospel, Country and Contemporary Worship Songs”….

Well and Good. But How Wide is your Thematic Repertoire? Do you draw from a ready reservoir of Songs, Choruses and Hymns that cover the whole range of Biblical themes? If we sing the songs God wants us to sing, they will cover the wide range of
Themes found in the Bible ~ the Spirit-inspired, Jesus-centred, Father-glorifying Scriptures. If “the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, we will be teaching and admonishing one another by singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”, music that
covers the hundreds of Biblical Themes listed in a Topical Bible Concordance. Such as: Anger, Blessings, Church, Depression, Encouragement, Funerals, Gospel, Heaven/Hell, Injustice, Joy, Kings (Government), Love, Marriage, New Birth, Obedience, Parenting, Quarrels, Repentance, Scriptures, Trials, Unity, Victory, Wisdom, Youth, Zeal. All these Biblical themes deserve Songs that will sing God’s Words into our memories and lives.

Charles Wesley, who received his song-writing gift when filled with the Spirit during Pentecost-season 1738, went on to write over 6 000 hymns, intentionally “covering almost every subject within the compass of Christianity”. The Holy Spirit wants us to sing
widely through the range of God’s revelation, not narrowly as is the case today.

God loves you, and is moved to shepherd you through all the circumstances and challenges of your life. Is your Thematic Repertoire wide enough to embrace songs that speak into your temptations, your frustrations, your celebrations, your moral dilemmas, your working life, your family dynamics? (Can you find a song suited to Father’s Day this coming Sunday?  For suggestions click here)

Christmas has inspired songs ever since Mary sang her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Except for our current generation. As well as traditional carols, “Carol Praise” has 76 Contemporary Worship Songs (CWSs) listed. Of these, only 13 songs (17%) had any
reference to Christmas and the Incarnation.  It seems that any oblique passing reference to ‘Jesus as King’/‘Prince of Peace’, ‘Emmanuel’, ‘Joy’ or ‘Bowing Down’ qualified a CWS to be a Christmas song. What a barren desert we inhabit!

When you see a gap, fill it! Find a song to fit the theme/text of each sermon. Its genre is immaterial: chorus, CWS, hymn, ballad. Drive home the Scripture, the Sermon with a Song. Build a repertoire, a reservoir of songs ~ that will keep you out of the same old rut.

As a preacher/pastor I often struggled to find songs that fitted my sermons. So I wrote new songs, usually to familiar tunes, that would embed the sermon in the souls of the singers. I saw gaps, and filled them. These new lyrics are now available in the
compilation “Lyrics to Lift your Life”: 283 songs organised under 44 Themes …..indexed to 520 Scriptures in 39 Bible books, …. indexed to 187 Topics (Abortion to Zeal), making it readily useful to Preachers/Worship Leaders. Available in electronic
(R60) and hard-copy book (R80) formats. Contact me at: .


  1. Very good article – As a music director/worship leader, I find that the praise & worship part of the Sunday meeting is almost treated as a separate segment to the preaching of the Word. Where you have a preacher who is also musical/loves singing, you have a better chance of ‘glueing’ things together & carrying a main theme through for maximum penetration!

  2. Yes, Bernice – preachers who are musical are a double gift to Jesus’ Body. But if they are not musical? They should team up with the Worship Leader to consciously influence the lyrics chosen (irrespective of music genre) to ensure they please God and accomplish His purposes. Our pastor meets with the music team for prayer and guides them re the theme he will preach on, so their songs can integrate with this.This “carries a main theme through for maximum penetration”. A good example for all to follow.