Singability

Just as a follow-up on the Christian radio thing…I realize that radio is radio.  It’s not unique to the Christian radio stations.  I was flipping through stations recently and two days in a row, I heard blips of Adia by Sarah McLachlan and Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young.  Both songs.  Two days in a row.  Just passing through.  Why do those songs have so much airtime?  Why not others?  I don’t know.  Lesson: Every station runs their sets, and every station can easily bore you to tears.  That being said, I still believe that, overall, the selection in the “genre” of worship music could be more creatively diverse to reflect the Creative One.

 

But AAAANYway…that’s not what I want to talk about today.  I’ve been thinking a lot about songwriting for worship and the importance of singability.  (Yeah, so it’s somewhat related, I know.)  It’s easy to think about my favorite songs and say, “Well that song’s easy to sing along to” even if it’s not, because I have a tendency to listen to a new album over and over and over again until I’m completely sick of it.  And if it’s a good album, that could take a while.  I usually know every song like the back of my hand by the time I ever even introduce it to the worship team.  That’s great for making it easier to teach to the team, but it makes it easy to forget how I felt about it the first time I heard it.

 

For instance, take the song Savior (or Saviour, for you English purists) on Hillsong’s God He Reigns album.  Now I know it well (though it’s still not one of my personal favorites).  But when I first heard it, I remember thinking the chorus was rather hard to track with.  I felt the notes were strangely-placed and tough to follow at first.  Now?  Piece of cake.  But I’ll be the first to admit it took some time and actual cognisant notation.  The funny thing is, I know it so well now, that it took me some time to realize that that was the song I wanted to give you as an example.  Once you know a song, you just know it – even if you haven’t heard it for a while.

 

So I made a decision the other day that the next album I purchase, I’m going to listen to with a pen and pad of paper (or my laptop); and I’m going to write down my first impressions of each song. (Seriously.  On the FIRST listen.) Then I can look back on it weeks, even months, later and remember what it’s like to hear a new song for the first time, and how much of a learning curve is (generally) required.  Some people pick things up faster than others, but at least it’ll give me a feel for it.

 

My intention is never to leave anyone behind with new songs; but at the same time, we do need to keep seeing God with fresh eyes and using fresh words to express how awesome He is…and how grateful we are!  If we don’t, it becomes just like that song that’s been played a million times on the radio: you can sing along with your eyes closed and both hands tied behind your back, but do you really KNOW what you’re singing anymore?  Does it have the same meaning it did the first time?  Maybe you’d say yes.  But I’ll admit that, for me, it’s easy to just sing along without reflecting on the meaning when I know it that well.  Worship should be a habit.  But not the words themselves.

 

Psalm 33:3 “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”

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