contemporary worship

Creating Unique Musical Underscores for Worship: My Step-By-Step Approach

Creating Unique Musical Underscores for Worship: My Step-By-Step Approach

You know when you go see a movie and you get a feeling for what’s about to happen before it happens? It’s not the dialogue that does that, it’s the musical underscoring.

A musical underscore is music played underneath dialogue or acting of some kind, often to help set the scene or create a mood. (source)

In movies, it heightens our emotions and helps us connect to the story and the characters in a more personal way.

The same is true for worship.

Top 20 Contemporary Music Resources

Top 20 Contemporary Music Resources

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called, "Contemporary Music for Traditional Congregations," which included practical suggestions and a list of 20 accessible contemporary songs for more traditional worship (read it here, in case you missed it). I know what you're thinking: "That's great, but where do I go to actually find this music?"

I asked the same question earlier this year. You see, our church is currently having these same conversations. In fact, we're talking about it in a series of meetings this week:

- How can we begin incorporating more contemporary music into our services?
- Where do we find this music? 
- Who from our church can sing/play/lead it?

I did a little homework and today, I'm sharing a round-up of contemporary music resources - places to listen to and download individual songs (lead sheets, chord charts, instrumental parts, choral scores, etc.), where to find lyrics, and several useful collections for choir, praise team, and congregational use.

Happy searching!

Contemporary Music for Traditional Congregations

Contemporary Music for Traditional Congregations

"We need to keep up with the times!""We need to preserve our history!""We need to attract more millenials!"

Contemporary vs. traditional. It's enough to spark debate (or cause a war) in some congregations. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why does including contemporary music mean that we can't have a choir or use the organ or sing hymns? I believe there is a place for both in modern worship.

Emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) was influenced by the Rock 'n' Roll of the 1950s and popular styles of the times (source). Today, contemporary worship often refers to musical style (rather than date of composition), incorporating popular song forms (verse, chorus, bridge), style (hip-hop, rock, acoustic, country, etc.), popular instruments (guitar, drums, keyboard, electric bass, etc.), and simple lyrics written in modern language. 

The big question is, can all musical styles be considered sacred? Here's what I think:

"Music has sacred significance and purpose within the liturgy whenever it brings sacred associations to the minds and hearts of the worshipers. Does all music have the potential to acquire sacred meaning? Swain (2012) wrote, 'As long as the music is a means of proclaiming the Word and is not the Word itself, it is theoretically possible for any kind of music to acquire a sacred semantic' (p. 196)." - On Musical Meaning