Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pointers about Repetition

It is the opinion of this writer that there is meaningful repetition and meaningless repetition.

Repetition can be used to reinforce a point that the song is trying to make. By repeating a line in a song, or a stanza or even a whole song, the worshiper is given the opportunity to reflect more carefully on the words he/she is singing.

We all have experienced times where we were singing a song without thinking. We simply sang because that is what everybody else was doing, and perhaps our mind was on other things. In such a situation repetition can lead the mind of the worshiper back to the song. We are brought back mentally to the thing we are presently doing, namely worshiping God, and suddenly our mind reengages with the song and the music. So repetition can be meaningful because it calls the worshiper to concentrate on what he is doing and saying in his song.

Another value of repetition is that it allows for the worshiper to ponder the words he/she is singing more deeply. Good worship songs have words that are meaningful. They express certain truths about God and the Christian life. Sometimes it takes a while to understand the meaning of the words and the intent of the songwriter. Repetition allows for reflection on the content of the words and their meaning. And when the meaning becomes more clear to the worshiper, he is able to sing and worship with greater understanding and meaning. It would seem unnecessary to say that greater worship takes place in the heart of the worshiper when he understands what he is singing that when he does not understand what he is singing.

Another positive reason for repetition is that it provides the opportunity to repeat a certain truth back to God a number of times. When this truth is centered on a certain attribute of God, such as his holiness, or his love, it may be rewarding to the worshiper to repeat his adoration of this aspect of God’s character or work to him a number of times, because of the depth of feeling he has toward God concerning these truths. So in these ways, repetition can be meaningful.

Is there such a thing as meaningless repetition? I believe so.

There seems to be a belief “out there” that repetition is useful for its own sake. In other words, worship singing becomes better when there is lots of repetition. But is this so? I do not think so.

Lets ask first of all: What is meaningless repetition?

Meaningless repetition happens when the purpose for repetition has been accomplished, but the repetition is still ongoing.

For example, when repetition of a line or stanza or song has successfully focused the attention of most of the worshipers in the room on a line in the song or a stanza or the whole song, it is no longer necessary to continue with the repetition.

Or, when the repetition has led most worshipers to enter into greater understanding of the content and the meaning of what they are singing, it is no longer necessary to continue with the repetition. If a song’s meaning is reasonably clear, most people (believers) will “get it” after a couple of repetitions.

Also, when the depth of a believer’s feeling for a certain truth has had the opportunity to be expressed multiple times by means of repetition, it may be time to move on to another truth, or another aspect of God’s great work for us in Christ. However, I would not make this a hard and fast rule. There are times that a congregation of worshipers can actually be overcome with the awareness of a particular truth, so that there is actually a desire in the congregation to keep expressing this truth over and over again. But this is different than repetition for repetition’s sake.

When repetition continues for its own sake, because it is seen as something good “in itself”, it may actually lead to less worship happening, rather than more. Why? Because after a certain amount of repetition, the minds of most worshipers will say “I get this”, and go into a “state of rest”. In other words the mind will become inactive. This does not necessarily mean that the emotions of the worshipers will become inactive. But it does mean that now the emotions of the worshipers will no longer be grounded in the words, but in other things, such as the environment in which they find themselves, the sounds that they hear, the instruments or other things. When the mind “cancels out” worship does not become more, but rather less. And the mind cancels out when it finds repetition to be without purpose.

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Pointers about Volume

Here, in the opinion of the author, are some principles to observe with respect to the volume level of the voices and instruments of the PT (Praise Team).

1. A lot of noise is not automatically the sign or indication that something spiritual is happening. There can be loud sound coming from the instruments of the PT and from the voices of the singers, but this is not an indication that anything spiritual is happening in the heart. 

2. Nevertheless, the loud volume of the instruments and of the singers can be a sign that something spiritual is happening. It may arise from the enthusiasm that the worshipers feel about God and Jesus and about various other spiritual themes. Excitement about something will generally raise the level of volume of voices and instruments. This is not a bad thing!

3. Volume is to some extent governed by the words of the music and by the mood of the worshipers. When enthusiasm is expressed in the words of a song, it is appropriate to express that enthusiasm with voices and instruments. If a song calls for quiet contemplation is would seem appropriate to let the volume express this also. For example, loud music would seem inappropriate for a funeral service. Generally, when the mood of the worshipers is enthusiastic, the volume of the music will rise.

4. On occasion the enthusiasm of the PT will be greater than that of the congregation. It would not seem inappropriate that the volume of the singers would therefore be greater than that of the congregation. In such a situation the enthusiasm of the singers could be contagious for the congregation, and they may catch the enthusiasm also. But this is not the same thing as volume for volume’s sake. The volume is in relationship to the enthusiasm of the PT.

5. Generally, the volume of the Praise Team should not consistently drown out the volume of the congregation (People of God). It becomes discouraging for worshipers when they can not hear themselves or anyone else sing. As the volume of the congregation rises, the volume of the PT may also rise.  In other words, there should be some correspondence between the volume of the PT and their instruments, and the volume of the congregation.

6. The reason why worshipers should be able to hear their own voices and those of other worshipers is that one’s own faith can be strengthened when one hears the voices of others lifting up their own voices to the same God. The expression of the faith of others encourages one in his/her own expression of this faith.

7. In summary, volume should not be like the motor of some furnaces. Some furnace motors have only one setting – full blast. In my opinion, praise and worship singing will be more enjoyable when there is some correspondence between the words of the songs, the mood of the congregation and the volume of the voices and instruments of the PT.

 

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12 Practical Pointers for Praise Teams

If I were to summarize what the most important factors in making for an enjoyable experience of praise and worship are, I would list the following:

 

1. Please keep the beat!!!!! 

2. Try not to let the volume of the playing/singing of the PT dominate the congregation’s singing. It is beneficial for the congregation to be able to hear not only the singing and playing of the PT, but also its own singing.

3. Teach the congregation music that is singable. Try to avoid complex rhythms and melody lines. Remember: The congregation is not made up of musical professionals.

4. Chose songs with texts that are meaningful and theologically accurate.

5. Avoid meaningless repetition.

6. Remember to balance the learning of new songs with the singing of better/well-known songs. People get more pleasure out of singing songs they know. It is hard to put one’s heart into songs one hardly knows.

7. Be more concerned about the content of the songs (the words) than about the style of the music. God is more concerned that we worship him in spirit and in truth than that we worship him according to the latest style. Teach the congregation this principle.

8. Seek to approach the singing and worship time with an attitude of reverence and awe. We are worshiping the Holy One.

9. Discourage “showmanship” by the musicians. We are not here to impress anyone, but to lead others in worship.

10. Seek to avoid dress that draws the worshipers’ attention away from the music and  to the musician. God should be the primary focus of everyone present.

11. Remember the elderly when standing for long periods of time. Show solidarity with them by adopting a sitting posture from time to time. Let them know that you are aware that it may be difficult for them to stand with the rest of the worshipers.

12. Let everything be done in love.

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Seven Pointers for the Heart

Leading the People of God in worship is more than merely a musical venture. It is also a venture of the heart. Here are some pointers for the “heart”, that innermost seat of the emotions and attitudes.

 

1. Members of the PT are committed followers of Jesus Christ whose main desire is to glorify God with their voices and instruments.

2. Members of the PT desire to work together with and in submission to the leadership of the church.

3. Members of the PT will seek to preserve a spirit of unity within their group.

4. Members of the PT will see themselves as partners in worship with the congregation.

5. Members of the PT will realize that success depends on the blessing of God on their endeavors and will ask God for his blessing on their work. They will remember to thank God when he answers their prayers.

6. Members of the PT will maintain an attitude of dependence on the Lord while they lead the congregation in praise and worship.

7. Members of the PT will maintain an attitude of humility toward God and others when success comes their way.

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