How to Plan Worship Music: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Most of my writings here on Ponder Anew are a response to the pervasiveness of commercial Christian worship, and how a wholesale rejection of liturgical theology and history is giving us bad worship, bad theology, and a bloated, unhealthy church.

But I’m often asked more specific questions about the practical aspects of church music ministry. A common theme to those questions is how I go about planning music for worship. So, I thought I would write a little about that, and hopefully there’s something here that will be of use to you.

How to Plan Music for Worship: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prayerfully and intentionally read over the lessons dictated by the Revised Common Lectionary.
  2. Choose hymns and anthems based on the Gospel lesson.
  3. Close hymnal and take a sip of coffee or Diet Coke.
  4. Feel proud and satisfied in a job well done.
  5. Look at the partially-finished order of worship and realize in horror that the sermon is focusing on the Psalm.
  6. Utter a few mild profanities. If you’re Lutheran, they may be stronger profanities. If you’re Baptist, nervously look over your shoulder to make sure nobody heard you swearing inside the church building.
  7. Close hymnal and cry on desk.
  8. Read Sunday’s Psalm.
  9. Close Bible and cry on desk.
  10. Arbitrarily choose a couple hymns that people might like.
  11. Frantically look at online resources of lectionary hymns to ensure the final hymn will be vaguely related to the sermon text.
  12. See only three hymns that you know – two that you’ve already chosen, and “Love Lifted Me.”
  13. Close browser and cry on desk.
  14. Choose “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” because it goes with anything.
  15. Begin to mentally prepare yourself for the organist’s wrath when he finds out he has to play ST. ANNE for the 14th time in the past 12 months.
  16. Wipe tears from eyes, and collapse from the emotional exhaustion.

So there you go! Happy planning.

Photo:
Flickr, creative commons 2.0

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