The Series

Too often, we, as worship leaders, can get into a rut in our worship planning. In this series of posts, I want us to evaluate our methods and thought processes as we design our times of worship. Our church’s corporate worship times are the primary means by which the church can disciple the majority of our people, and we must be intentional in our planning and leading in a way that truly transforms lives.

Check out the first post to better understand the term, Playlist Worship.

The second installment discusses how to help your congregation connect their hearts to the messages of the songs through times of ministry, testimony, scripture and prayer.

Part three explores ways to make worship songs more impactful by creating textual, thematic, and response links that connect the heart and mind of the worshipper.

Part four examines musical transitions that create a more logical, seamless flow in worship and engage the worshippers more fully.

In part five, we look at utilizing planned spontaneity in providing some great worship moments.

Part six discusses incorporating more non-musical worship elements into the service, such as prayers of confession, creeds, and scripture readings. 

In our first weeks of this series, we looked at ways to move beyond a Playlist Worship style to more profoundly impact the congregation in worship. Last week, we looked at ways to connect songs seamlessly while involving the ideas from the previous week’s post, which can further enhance our worship times because song connections can have a far greater impact if you can connect these songs musically as well as textually, thematically, and responsively.

This week, I want to explore how using spontaneous moments in worship can also make a significant impact on the congregation’s worship experience.

Utilizing Planned Spontaneity in Worship

Planned Spontaneity describes a planned connection between two songs where it seems as you end the first song you suddenly think of a second song that would be a great response to what we just sang, then you lead directly into singing it. Often, the spontaneous second song would begin with very little instrumentation—perhaps just keyboard pads. The song could then build as you move forward. Planned Spontaneity works best between songs in the same key, but also works nicely in settings in which a song that ends on the IV chord goes to a song in a key a fourth higher. The critical part, in this case, is that the worship leader must know what note to begin on and must get the new key in his/her head immediately since there is no introduction to establish the key. This effect can be very powerful in worship.

Here are some examples of songs that are connected utilizing some of the methods I have talked about in the last few weeks. Each set includes a spontaneous connection.

EXAMPLE ONE

Scripture Reading (in preparation for the three songs speaking to “worthy is the Lamb”) Revelation 5:1-12. Keys provided quiet music during reading.

Congregational Songs

The next three songs were arranged to connect in a couple of ways as noted to provide a seamless experience for the worshippers.

  1. Agnus Dei (key of A) – Out of the quiet music playing under the scripture reading, at the close of the reading, we immediately began to lead the opening of Agnus Dei (no formal introduction). We sang one verse, one chorus, repeated the verse, then two choruses with the last half of the final chorus with little accompaniment for the voices to ring out. We finished the song leaving off the final “amen” and building for two measures to a huge “Worthy Is the Lamb,” a cappella, from the chorus of the next song at a faster tempo.
  2. Worthy Is the Lamb (key of A) – the drums and then the band enter after the a cappella opening and we sing chorus, verse, chorus. We finished the song on the second “Worthy is the Lamb” (no tag) staying on a D chord and let it ring out sustained.
  3. Worthy, You Are Worthy (key of D) –  in an almost spontaneous way, we then led into the simple chorus with very little accompaniment singing the chorus twice. Although in different keys, note that the last held note of Worthy Is the Lamb is the same note that this chorus begins on and is contained in a sustained D chord, which is the one chord of the new key, making an easy transition.

Prayer  Keys provided quiet music during prayer.

EXAMPLE TWO

We are introducing Goodness of God as a new song to the congregation. We want to build a set on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

 Introduction

Leader will guide the congregation in scripture, prayers and discussion about the goodness and faithfulness of God. Pads in Bb underlying this beginning with prayer time. 

Goodness of God (Bb)

Pads will establish key of Bb. Lead vocal will begin spontaneously on the chorus. Will sing chorus three times (no drums yet), then to verse 1 (full band in), alto solo, then congregation sings verse 1 followed by chorus, verse 2, then skip to FINAL CHORUS (m60), bring tag way down. (We are not singing the bridge this time). Intro to next song (piano) begins on final measure of this song.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Bb)

Intro begins (intro overlap), replacing final measure of Goodness of God, then as written for stanzas one and three (omit 2). Ritard final line of final stanza. Sustain final Bb chord (no outro). Voices and light accompaniment spontaneously move back to the chorus of Goodness of God (with tag)–very free feel.

Goodness of God (Bb)

Reprise chorus and tag very unplugged. (short gap, planned spontaneity)

God, You’re So Good (Bb)

Pads only. Chorus once or twice. (short gap, planned spontaneity)

 

EXAMPLE THREE

[Scripture Reading – Titus 2:11-14, Hebrews 10:22-23] Keys play

Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine (Bb-C) 

    • Intro – Guitar & keys begins out of Scripture, vamp as needed
    • As written

Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me (C)

    • Intro – Guitar & Pads begin on final chord of previous song’s outro.
    • As written (lots of variation indicated in lead sheet)
    • No outro, just sustain final CM chord.

Lord, I Need You (C-D) no wind instruments

    • This will spontaneously begin over sustained chord of last song.
    • Begin with chorus in C, then go to chorus in D followed by V1, C, V2, C, C. No octave jumps. Sing V2 like V1 with no extra material. Final chorus a cappella with tag.

[Prayer] Keys continue

EXAMPLE FOUR

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name (F)

    • Intro – Drum count in then all begins on Kenny’s cue
    • We do only the first three stanzas in F – no modulation
    • Ritard ending of third stanza
    • Sustain final chord in m43 and allow to fade with pads dominant

Great Are You Lord(F)

    • Begin m47 on bridge
    • Voices move directly to singing the BRIDGE: “All the earth will shout your praise…” first time quiet and building 2nd and 3rd times. Big choruses.
    • Play as written to the end

In the next couple of weeks, we will look more at some non-musical elements of worship, such as prayers of confession, creeds, and scripture readings.