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
- Prayerfully and intentionally read over the lessons dictated by the Revised Common Lectionary.
- Choose hymns and anthems based on the Gospel lesson.
- Close hymnal and take a sip of coffee or Diet Coke.
- Feel proud and satisfied in a job well done.
- Look at the partially-finished order of worship and realize in horror that the sermon is focusing on the Psalm.
- 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.
- Close hymnal and cry on desk.
- Read Sunday’s Psalm.
- Close Bible and cry on desk.
- Arbitrarily choose a couple hymns that people might like.
- Frantically look at online resources of lectionary hymns to ensure the final hymn will be vaguely related to the sermon text.
- See only three hymns that you know – two that you’ve already chosen, and “Love Lifted Me.”
- Close browser and cry on desk.
- Choose “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” because it goes with anything.
- 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.
- Wipe tears from eyes, and collapse from the emotional exhaustion.