The more (or less), the better

Sunday’s assembly experience (see here for some of the plan and content) at our church didn’t turn out to be quite what it was in my dreamings and plannings, but I still think parts of it were fairly good.  Karly told me she was moved to tears as we worshipped in the singing of the chorus of “On Zion’s Glorious Summit” and moved into “In Christ Alone,” which expresses with great conviction the redemptive reason that we will one day actually be on Zion’s glorious summit, in the throne room of God almighty.

Yet not all was a mountaintop experience on Sunday.  One issue was my miscalculation about the familiarity of one song.  Basically, I thought it would be familiar, but it wasn’t. Not even the Appalachian-folk, “pentatonic,” easily-pick-up-able nature of “Come Ye Sinners” could save it.  It pretty much flopped, even though there were four stanzas in which to pick it up.  The phrase “I will arise and go to Jesus” in the 4th felt more like “My head is still fuzzy on this song and am not sure where I’m going musically,” so there probably wasn’t much attention on spiritually going to Jesus.  Given the model here of congregational involvement and not performance by a more-or-less trained worship team, unfamiliarity with songs can’t be the rule, if the whole group is to be engaged.

[Aside: there are ways to enhance familiarity, to calculate, and to be strategic with the introduction of new songs. As with any human element, though, it’s not an exact science, and I miscalculated in my planning for Sunday.  More on this aspect of musical leadership in the future.]

I noticed that there was only one comment of affirmation offered to me, the primary leader for the day, after the assembly was over.  I took this first as a less-than-enthusiastic overall response–perhaps because there were three fairly unfamiliar songs–but on later reflection, I wonder if it merely meant that more people were engaged in the content and less aware of who was leading them. If so, great!

  1. The more attention on God, on building each other up, and on other types of lyrical content in the songs and prayers, the better.
  2. The less attention on individual leaders, the better.

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