Yesterday morning (Sunday) I got waaaay outside my comfort zone – and sang a newish song of mine in church.
For those who don’t know me well – I am no singer. I am not being modest. Vocally – I am a one-trick-pony – someone who can carry a tune with some attitude – but not much else. I play enough piano to be dangerous. There is literally no telling where or when in the song I am going to mess things up royally. I was a drummer, for crying out loud – how did I get myself in this mess?!?!? (Sorry about that.)
I managed to get through the song without embarrassing myself. (Although, I won’t be surprised if I get a call later today from the church asking me to quietly move my church membership elsewhere – for the good of all involved.) I sat at the piano (more accurately, I hid behind the piano), which made it easier for me to not completely freeze up into a mute and quivering mass of flesh. There is simply no way on this earth I would have stood out front and sang. I would never have lived that down.
The reason I was in this perilous situation is my minister of music, a wonderful traditional church musician, asked me to help spice up the service a bit. We did that by introducing a completely acoustic rhythm section to accompany the hymn singing. We also played a simple latin-flavored arrangement of “O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus,” and I sang my song.
I know that for most churches – this sort of thing is old hat. But at FBC Nashville, this is a new thing. My church does its music very well, and very traditionally. It has a terrific choir, a monstrous pipe organ, excellent accompanists, a graded choir program, handbells, the works. What it does’t have is a lot of contemporary music. And that is, by and large, a good thing. My church offers Nashville worshipers an alternative to what is now the standard fare of contemporary praise and worship music. Still, my music minsiter, Mark Edwards, wanted to stretch things a bit and we gave it a go.
All in all, it went well – especially for a first time venture, with little rehearsal. A lot of people came up to me and said nice things afterwards. Of course, I probably won’t hear directly from the committee that is even now forming to throw me and my rhythm-playing buddies out of the church forever. (kidding)
The experience did solidify an opinion I’ve had for some time about worship music. Too many churches limit their music to a pretty short menu of songs and musical styles. I believe congregations are willing to stretch a bit if the music is done well, the songs are appropriate, and the presentation is humble. And the stretching can go both ways. If your church is like FBC Nashville (and not many are any more), consider some contemporary songs. (Be choosy. Pick the good ones – not just the latest ones.) If your church is a pure contemporary praise and worship church, consider that there is an enormous body of quality musical literature out there that your congregation might truly enjoy if they were exposed to it in the right way.
People like variety. That is no great insight nor startling revelation. Still, I think it’s something worth remembering as we plan music for worship week in and week out.