Several weeks ago I posted some ideas for Advent; now it's almost time for Christmas!  Are you looking for some new songs to complement the carols?  I'll cover a few of those first, then move into updated version of the classics.

 
 
I had a request for some contemporary song ideas for Reformation, which I had sort of jumped over – along with All Saints and Christ the King – to get to Advent.  So here are a few ideas for each of these special Sundays in October and November.

 
 
For my Advent/Christmas update this year, I’m going to try and maintain some degree of separation between these two liturgically distinct seasons.  In a way, the progression of the church’s seasons in December reflects the movement from the “Kyrie” to the Song of Praise in historical liturgy.  We express our need for God – through longing, hope, and expectation – in Advent, and then celebrate the fulfillment of that need, God’s answer to our longing, in the coming of Christ.  You’ll have to decide whether your congregation will stand for not singing any Christmas songs before December 24, but consider holding off enough to maintain the Advent mood.  For this post we’ll stay in Advent, and follow with a Christmas post soon.  

 
 
Two listens.  That’s what it took for me to fall in love with this album.  For those of us who were ecstatic after Ghosts Upon the Earth that one of the most innovative musical groups on the planet was making worship music, there was bound to be a twinge of disappointment upon first listen.  I wasn’t expecting there to be another “Beautiful Things” on this album, but there’s no “Brother Moon” here either.  

 
 
1)  “Beautiful Things” – Gungor.  Introduce this in time for Ash Wednesday next year, please.  Your congregation will thank you.
2) “Our God’s Alive” – Andy Cherry.  Ditto for Easter. If you have a congregation that will really sing, this will be a blast.
3) “10,000 Reasons” – Matt Redman. This one I probably don’t need to tell you about.  But if you’re not yet doing it, do it.  Your congregation will love it.  Simply the most singable congregational anthem since Tomlin’s collection of them on “Arriving.”
4) “Be Unto Your Name” – Sadler, Gary; L. DeShazo; as performed by Travis Cottrell.  A little older, but excellent.  My congregation has been using it as a Song of Praise in a blended worship service all summer. 
5) “Overcome” – Jon Egan.  This would also work great as a Song of Praise.  The first simple descending notes of the guitar intro get me every time.  

 
 
Hi all,
Sorry for the lack of posts in a while.  I've been busy starting a new call as a pastor.  But I wanted to let you know I had an article published on worshipleader.com.  Check it out.

If this is your first time on the site after reading that article, I would encourage you to start here for an orientation, or here to read more along the lines of that article.  
Thanks for visiting!
 
 
For many people, Lent is a time to return to some of the old traditional favorites.  But there are also many great “new classics” from the modern worship scene that are great for this season of returning to the core of our faith.  Lent is a journey toward the cross – toward the redemptive suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Below is a list of songs for Lent, broken down in three central Lenten themes: repentance, discipleship, and the cross. 

Yes, it is true that much of contemporary worship is quite limited in its metaphorical scope when it comes to Jesus’ death, but the same could be said of our traditional hymnody.  So I’ll also try to point toward some lesser-known music that brings us closer to the rich variety of biblical imagery.  

 
 
As the musical aspect of evaluating worship songs is a very contextual question (see part I), lyrics are the primary way I evaluate songs for inclusion in my song lists.  Along with the development of a worship set or liturgy (see my earlier series Worship in 7 Movements), this is perhaps the area most in need of theological reflection in the contemporary worship scene.  The first thing to realize is that just because someone is a “worship artist,” does not mean everything they write or perform is going to be appropriate for congregational worship.  In general, five values inform my selection of congregational worship music:

 
 
There are two aspects of evaluating songs for use in worship: one is musical (is my congregation able to sing it?), and the other is lyrical.  Part one of this article will focus on the musical aspect, while part II will dive into lyrics. 

Context rules
The musical question is much more contextual than many people realize.  What is “singable” for a congregation of 500-1000 people in an urban area is going to be very different than what is singable for a congregation of 25 people in a rural farmtown.  This applies to both the style of the song (and what instrumentation is needed to make it viable) and its musical key.  When it comes to contemporary styles, some congregations just will not be able to pull off certain songs because of a lack of adequate instrumentation.

 
 
Hey all,
I just posted a new section featuring some of my own music.  You can listen to complete songs and download chord charts, all for nothin'.  So click on over and enjoy.
-matt