There are so many factors at play when bringing new songs into a congregational environment. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that although teaching the components of the song well is important, we must never lose sight of the main purpose of a worship leader — to help your people to find their way to Jesus!
So here are some thoughts and points to consider when leading and bringing new songs in church.
Understand the power of a new song.
- New songs give us new ways to express ourselves to God, to minister to, magnify and petition God.
- We can gain fresh perspectives on gratitude and devotion.
- Songs can often seed thought provoking themes to meditate on and pursue revelation through Gods Word.
Know the song!
- Learn it! If it is obvious that you are not familiar with a song you are teaching it can be terribly distracting to the congregation!!! Get a good grasp of the melody, if the writer is available ask them if you have it right. The writers want the song to be presented well so will most often be happy to help!
- Gain an understanding of the foundational scripture(s)
- If there is a story behind the song, find out what it is to gain perspective or if the writer is available ask them to explain.
Find a takeaway
- Find a line or a point in the song that carries scriptural impact or encouragement that you can place emphasis on when you are leading it. This enables people to identify with biblical truth that helps close the gap between ‘learning a new song’ and ‘gathered together in agreement’ worship.
- Plan for this point of emphasis during the song; work with the band to support this.
- Example: watch at 8:05 in the video below
Watch the video below, to see Jad, Matt Crocker, and Taya Smith introducing the song “Let There Be Light” to our Hills campus for the very first time.
(p.s. we’re not suggesting that you introduce it exactly the same way, we just wanted to show you an example from one of our services 😀)
Key the song for success (for everyone)
- Putting the song in a key that will offer strong execution is important. However, if you have an enormous vocal range, the optimal key for you may put the song out of the reach of the average churchgoer so find the balance between execution and the ‘ease of participation’ for the congregation.
- This will require working with your MD and band ahead of time. Give people time to prepare, this also helps present the song as best possible.
Sing clearly and be diligent with pronunciation
- Mumbling! It is extremely difficult to learn the subtle characteristics of a melody if there is no clarity in the delivery.
- Some songs have verses that are low in order to make use of the octave jump for choruses and bridge- sometimes these verses need to almost be over pronounced to be intelligible.
- For the most part, congregations are extremely gracious and will try to learn the song, make it easy for them by singing clearly; this helps with learning timing and inflection. If the verse is in the lower register, over pronouncing words can help convey intricacies of melody and timing.
- Use choir or gang vocals if you have them! – People are less apprehensive about singing along if they can hear other people singing too, involving the choir can add so much life to a service but can also help teach songs with the big gang vocal sound!
- If it looks like you are not enjoying yourself, it isn’t the greatest encouragement to get on board with what you are doing, so relax, be in the moment, you know the song so enjoy it!
- A smile is one of the best tools we have at our disposal as worship leaders’. It can disarm and put people at ease to be lead by someone that is full of joy.
Chorus is king (small k😜)
- When I am teaching a song for the first time- if I could ask for only one thing it would be that people would remember the chorus (or a prominent bridge). I like to make sure people get plenty of opportunity to sing the chorus. This will stay in their minds and the next time you do the song people will be able to recall it and help the song gather momentum.
- At no point during the introduction of a new song should we be not singing, teach a clear, confident melody.
- Understand that saying things like “let’s sing together” or “you sing” are difficult requests to oblige for a congregation when they have never heard the song before!!! (Don’t sweat it if you have done this, we all have😜).
- If you are the lead vocal you are teaching the melody, it is important to stick to the melody. Sounds basic enough, but it is easy to get excited or if the song is too low for you, the temptation to go off melody that may work fine with an established song but with a new song will just leave your parishioners a little confused as to what to sing. (Once again, we’ve all done it).
Teaching new songs can be daunting but can also incredibly rewarding! Put your best into learning, planning and presenting new songs and watch them contribute to the life of your church!!!
Go Well. J