[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]
The ‘Sons of the Pioneers’ captured the essence of Cowboy life on the Western Plains with songs like ‘Cool Clear Water’ and ‘The Last Round-up’. Their lyrics ‘Beans for breakfast, beans for dinner, beans for supper, Lord deliver us from that!’ described the boring menu of the cowboy bunk-house. Not that beans are a bad choice – I remember being so hungry on a hitch-hiking trip that I devoured a large tin of baked-beans and enjoyed it. But beans every meal? No thank you – our palates were designed for more varied fare.
Our souls were designed for varied fare too. Too often we sing the same themes over and over each Sunday. Our spiritual palates were designed for more varied songs and hymns. These Autumn months highlight Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday, so do you have appropriate songs for these epochal events in our Christian Year? Do you have songs suited to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Each Church should aim to have a repertoire of the Widest range of Songs on the widest range of Themes. Our Bibles are WIDE IN THE RANGE OF THEMES into which God has spoken. And where God speaks, we can sing! Sing the whole Word of Christ to admonish one another! (Colossians 3:16)
Too often we struggle to find a song for a desired Theme, or to drive home the Scripture of the Sermon. You shuffle through files, knowing that somewhere in your 1001-song repertoire you have just the song that fits. But the first line has escaped from your memory. Solve this practical problem by constructing and maintaining two Indexes: a Topical Index and a Scriptural Index. 10 hours spent doing this will save you 100 frustrating hours over the next five years. (Ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Sample Index System, and I will email it to you.)
Music itself has a WIDE RANGE OF MUSICAL GENRES. Capture these, redeem them from their previous usage, and conscript them into the service of Jesus Christ. Music can capture a WIDE RANGE OF MOODS, from the awesome and majestic praise with a strong drum-beat … to the plaintive confession songs in a minor key, accompanied by a violin. Musical Moods that match the words we sing. Explore how these can enhance the Worship and the Word we sing.
A worthy repertoire will include a WIDE USE OF LYRICAL GENRES. The sung words of exuberant joy, concise doctrine, evangelistic persuasion, motivation to godly living, prayers for missionary outreach, infusions of hope amid despairing circumstances. Poetic songs, narrative songs, teaching songs, comforting songs, disturbing songs, motivating songs, complaining songs. See HOW WIDE ARE THE LITERATURE-THEMES OF THE PSALMS, and express this literary breadth in the lyrics of the songs you sing in church.
More and more of our congregations are multi-racial. So bring on board a WIDE RANGE OF ETHNIC GENRES, so that everyone will be able to sing an occasional song in their heart-musical style. Others, for whom this is foreign, will learn to appreciate the Variety of styles which we will use in the multinational choirs of heaven! (Revelation 7:9,10)
I read somewhere that musical styles are changing every 5 years. Each generational segment has its favourite style. Ensure that your church will CATER FOR THE WIDE SPREAD OF GENERATIONS WHO WORSHIP TOGETHER ON A SUNDAY. Avoid separating the generations in different Sunday Worship Services ~ let’s be together for at least one or two hours each week. “Let each of you look not only to his own (song) interests, but also to the (song) interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
An obvious area of WIDE SINGING is to ensure that we include both Contemporary Worship Songs and Hymns in every service.
Obviously we cannot be totally WIDE in every service, but over a month or two we should be able to be as WIDE as described above.
I wish you WIDE WORSHIP every Sunday! Don’t limit the Menu!