It’s always a challenge to choose songs that resonates with the congregation week in week out. There is a fine line between keeping things fresh while maintaining the familiarity of often sung songs.
Appeasing the congregation is difficult for a variety of reasons. Differing ages, life experience, spiritual walk, personalities are all factors which affect members receptiveness to the songs we choose.
Recently I’ve noticed Matt Redman’s song ‘10,000 Reasons’ especially well received by our congregation. Whenever one of our three teams do this song, the participation and engagement seems to be heightened. I’ve reflected on this and came up with a few reasons why I believe this song in particular is so well liked:
1. Lyrical Relevance
I get a feeling people are engaged when they can relate to it. The lyrics and the words the artist expresses through the song is essential in connecting with members of the congregation. Take the last verse:
And on that day when my strength is failing.
The end draws near and the time has come.
Still my soul will sing your praise unending.
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
These lyrics speaks to something that is undeniably relevant to all. From the President of the USA to the unprivileged in our society, we all have to face a physical death. We’ve all experienced this reality being impressed upon us in some form or another. How counter-intuitive it is then to keep praising the Giver of life despite our human inclination not to! Redman’s lyrics act as a path into the people’s minds, hearts, and emotions.
2. Simplicity of the Melody
The first time I heard this song I could’ve sworn Matt Redman was listening to ancient Chinese opera before he penned out his song. The melody line is simple enough for the most musically illiterate to catch on yet at the same time tasteful and powerful. If you break it down, the chorus only uses five notes (pentatonic scale). The simplicity of the tune really encourages people to participate rather than stare, dumbfounded at a melody meant for a classically trained vocalist.
3. Musical Excellence
This doesn’t really have to do with the song specifically, but execution of any song is also beneficial in aiding members to worship and connect. In all honesty, a poorly executed song can really hinder many people’s worship. In an ideal world, people would be engaged naturally in worship, regardless of how good a band is, due to the great truths that we hold fast about the one in whom we direct our worship to. Obviously our world is anything from ideal and we as members of the church are no exception.
It’s therefore our duty as worship leaders to help aide others to connect with God to the best of our abilities. Spending time ironing out details and technicalities of parts in a song is not time spent in vain (done within reason of course). I personally appreciate it when a member of the band wants to stop for a bit to figure out a part. I’d rather be playing with people who are desiring to bring forth the best that they have rather than an apathetic ‘good enough’ attitude (doesn’t this apply to everything we do?).
I think that these three reasons are significant in aiding the receptiveness to the people of God. Of course all these are baseless if the Spirit does not work among the hearts/minds of the congregation. One of the greatest joys as a worship leader is to see brothers and sisters singing spiritual songs of praise under one roof, in unison, and with conviction to a true and living God.