Four Chords and Seven Hours Ago…

imageThe progression itself wasn’t anything special—D Am7 C G. Guitar players have been fashioning  songs from those notes since the first neck attached to a spruce top and strummed. That the fingers naturally move from one tone to the next may contribute something; a natural abandon inhabits the musician when following the chart becomes secondary. The feet move, the neck is raised in emphasis and the voice finds its volume.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings

You are my everything and I will adore you

Your eyes roam around the stage as you are caught up in the moment of worship being shared with your fellow musicians. The world truly fades away and an apprehension sets in as the last verse is sung and you know the end of the song is approaching but you don’t want it to stop. There are smiles and closed eyes as each person approaches the throne through their own music. Harmonies are heard, the drummer locked in and then filling with abandon. The Spirit heavy in His presence, descending in reception and encouraging us on. Laying aside the crowns of this world for a brief glimpse of heaven, this is the privilege of worship.

And then the realization that so few on Sunday will share this moment…the heart breaks.

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder

At the mention of Your name

Jesus your name is power, breath and living water

Such a marvelous mystery


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Volume != Passion

image In the February 2009 issue of Christianity Today, John Stackhouse has a penetrating piece on the trend toward louder worship bands in the church. (You can read the text on his blog by going here.) The core premise of his essay is that we have lost the intent of the musicians in the church. They are to accompany the praise of the congregation, supporting our voices with rhythm, melody, and key as we lift our hearts in song to our Father who we came to worship. The trend has gone in the other direction however. The praise band have become performers in many cases who feel that they must then project their music onto us as though we were attending a concert.

Though no worship band has yet to reach Motorhead-at-the-Warfield sound pressures, the volume in some cases has become annoyingly loud. Besides the physical discomfort of poorly mixed loudness, the volume has an effect that many worship leaders have failed to note. When you cannot hear your voice or those near you, the tendency is to not sing or to sing quietly. Look around you this week if your church uses a high volume praise band and make note of the number of people not singing but instead, simply watching the ‘performers.’ An important part of singing in worship is not often discussed; you are often singing for the benefit of others around you. When a person is unable to raise their own voice in praise due to their pain, suffering, depression, etc. many times it is the sound of your voice that lifts them up and gives them hope. When drowned out by the sound of crash cymbals, an opportunity for love can be lost.

Has your praise group become performers? Has the worship service become so choreographed and scheduled to the second that there is no room for the Spirit to work? When I think back to churches I have visited in which there was a lone pianist who played the melody and God was serenaded by the majority of people in the room and contrast it with some of the production oriented services I have been too, I come to conclusion that the pendulum has swung too far to one side and perhaps it is time for the arc to begin to come back in the other direction. Worship leaders, can you hear us?

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