Too often today, worship teams lead congregations in two or more songs in succession, but the connection between the songs is often disjointed and awkward. The flow stops while musicians adjust capos or change their music. Sometimes it is like shifting into reverse when you are driving down the freeway. What results is a disjointed time of worship rather than one that has a seamless flow.
As worship leaders and planners, we want to provide a more seamless journey for the worshippers, removing distractions and providing a flow that is musically and textually smooth and connected.
In this series of articles, I will walk you through the understanding of how to connect songs musically, textually, and thematically to help you craft a worship journey that can more powerfully impact your people. I will be using a series of videos recorded from a Worship Leader Boot Camp several years ago with explainer videos and demonstration videos. While the songs in the demo videos may be somewhat dated, the methods are very applicable to songs today.
Linking worship songs: musical considerations
First, we consider ways to connect songs musically so that they flow seamlessly from one to another. This offsets the awkward and disjointed practice of finishing a song and then having an awkward filler as you get the next song ready to go. In musically linking songs, the second song flows out of the first, creating a sense of journey and connection.
There are three primary ways that we will use to link songs together in worship:
In the Intro Overlap method, as the last note of the first song is sung, the introduction to the second song begins. The new song’s feel and perhaps change of tempo take over precisely at that point, drawing the congregation into the second song. This method requires the last chord of the first song and the first chord of the second song to be the same, so usually this method works for two songs in the same key.
To God Be the Glory (in G) – Forever (in G)
Both of these songs are in the same key – G major. In the Intro Overlap method, the introduction of the second song, Forever, begins on the last sung note of the first song, To God Be the Glory.
[Note: Each example has a long and short version. The long version provides more context for the two songs, while the short version zooms in to the transition.]
In the Short Gap method, the first song ends and the second song begins after a very brief moment, just enough to “clear the air.” This method works best connecting songs a whole or half step apart as well as songs that have a spontaneous feel (the second is a spontaneous response to the first.)
Forever (in G) – How Great Is Our God (in A)
The first song, Forever, comes to an end, then, after a brief pause, the intro to How Great Is Our God begins one whole step higher.
The No Break method joins the two songs together with one song beginning as the other ends. The beat continues constantly without break. Freedom comes in determining the length (or existence) of outros and intros to craft the amount of instrumental bridging comes between the sung portions of the two songs. This method works for songs in the same key or a fourth or fifth apart.
Your Name (in A) – How Great Is Our God (in A)
The first song, Your Name, comes to an end, two measures are inserted keeping the forward movement driving into a chorus of How Great Is Our God.
You will find many more examples in the subsequent posts in this series as we dive into the key relationships that make smooth transitions.