MWM: Teaching a new song (1 of 2)

Some years ago, I posted on an assembly in which I led worship and misjudged the familiarity of a particular song.  That particular song “flopped,” creating far more distraction than inspiration (presumably hindering the overall assembly experience for some).  The main issue on that occasion was my miscalculation—leader error—and not the mere newness of the song in question.

There are ways to predict (which I had simply ignored that one Sunday) and then to enhance familiarity.  I submit that it is possible to be both strategic and inspirational vis-à-vis the introduction of new songs.

There are better and worse methods for introducing new songs.  Let’s take a relatively simple song—the chant “We Praise Thee, God.”  This song, quite unfamiliar in recent decades, would be relatively easy to introduce—primarily because of these factors:

  • It is short.
  • Its text is meaningful (bearing repetition).


So, how to try introducing a new song like this?  I remember hearing,  years ago, that Matt (someone whose family I was acquainted with) introduced a new song, “on the spot,” with his church.  On that occasion, he hadn’t known a certain song that was suggested, but he examined it, found it valuable, and helped the congregation learn it.  I gathered that it wasn’t a very formal occasion, so Matt was able to be natural, dropping whatever “guard” he has as he agreed to try the song.

It’s good to be genuine and transparent, even if you’re not the most confident music reader.  Learn the song in advance, of course, if possible.  There’s no merit in embarrassing yourself or the congregation.  But it’s just as helpful to establish an attitude of comfortable experimentation, and making an honest mistake in front of everyone is not that big a deal.

Now, before you shut me down, either because you think your church won’t buy into anything that seems informal, or because you yourself find some level of experimentation irreverent, consider this:

A sincere heart learning to worship God, faltering through a new expression, is just as pleasing to God as a sincere heart who knows the song already, singing “perfectly.” 

Maybe more pleasing!

Next Monday—a suggested method 

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