Singing In Worship

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

No act is more integral to worship than singing. The Psalms frequently challenge us to sing to the Lord. The Bible also records numerous songs that the Lord's people sang. At every juncture of the church's history, God's people have sung in worship. At times, the song of the church arose from common experience as folk music. At other times, master composers crafted fine works of art to sing in worship. In each case, singing in worship has expressed the deepest emotions of God's people as...

The Theological Significance Of The Psalms In Worship

The biblical Psalter is the most important prayer book in both Jewish and Christian worship. The Psalms have shaped both the language used in Christian worship and the very idea of what worship is. This article describes the conception of worship implied in the Psalms. The Psalter can help a Christian community realize its full potential for worship in Jesus' name.

Ways Of Singing The Psalms In Worship

The Psalms have been traditionally sung two ways in worship, to metrical paraphrases of the Psalms paired with hymn tunes and to the literal prosaic translations of the Psalms paired with plainchant melodies or psalm-tones. The following article explains these two approaches in more detail.

Contemporary Developments In Responsorial Psalmody

Recent years have witnessed increased commitment to singing psalms at each worship service. As a result, composers of church music have produced a wealth of psalm settings for congregational use. These range in style and manner, but all intend to restore psalm singing as a significant aspect of common worship.

How To Introduce Responsorial Psalm Singing

The following article elaborates on a form of responsorial psalmody described in the preceding articles, describing how the Psalms can be sung responsorialy and how this practice can be introduced to a congregation not familiar with this practice.

Poetic Aspects Of Hymnody

Hymns are essentially poems set to music. The following article describes the poetic qualities of hymn texts, defines several of the technical terms used to categorize hymns texts, and then discusses how hymn tunes need to be sensitive to the poetic qualities of the text. Studying the examples provided in this article will help the reader to better understand and use hymns for congregational singing.

How To Compose A Hymn Tune

As the previous article observes, a well-crafted hymn tune is essential for expressing the meaning of a text. Composing hymn tunes, then, is an important task that ultimately makes a hymn text singable and "pray-able. " To write an effective tune, the composer must meet poetic, musical, and liturgical criteria.

How To Improve Congregational Hymn Singing

Most congregations' repertoire of hymns and songs is relatively small. This article shows the church musician how to introduce and teach new hymns and songs and thus broaden the spectrum of music in the local congregation.

Creativity In Hymn Singing

Hymns come in a variety of musical and textual styles. Yet often hymns are sung blandly, with no regard to their variety. The following article describes how hymns can be sung creatively, how the differences in hymns can be reflected in how they are sung, and how this approach can increase the potential for expressing the textual and musical ideas contained in a given hymn.



Singing Hymns In Canon

One way of singing hymns creatively involves singing in canon. This article defines what a canon is and how it can be used to foster imaginative congregational singing.

How To Select A Hymnal

The hymnal that is used in worship is one of the most important elements in shaping the faith and worship of a given congregation. Therefore, great care must be given to selecting the very best hymnal for use in a congregation. The following article describes some of the most important considerations that should be considered when a congregation selects a new hymnal.

The Rise Of The Scripture Song

The Scripture song is one of the most popular musical forms used in worship today. Although scriptural texts have been the basis for the church's music throughout its history, recent historical developments have led to unprecedented use of songs based on short fragments of scriptural texts.

Singing The Song Of Popular Culture In Worship

The growth of a huge body of contemporary songs and choruses for worship challenges each congregation to evaluate their musical repertoire and the criteria by which they select it. This article describes some of the theological perspectives important in this process and then describes many of the types of songs and choruses that have been composed in recent years.

How To Use Scripture Songs In Traditional Worship

Scripture songs may be integrated into traditional approaches to planning a worship service in ways that will enliven the service without disrupting its logical order and flow.

How To Use Scripture Songs In Traditional Worship

Scripture songs may be integrated into traditional approaches to planning a worship service in ways that will enliven the service without disrupting its logical order and flow.

Involving The Congregation In Praise And Worship

Worshipers need to learn how to praise God in the freedom of the Spirit. Reflecting the insights of the charismatic tradition, this article directs the church musician toward a number of different ways to lead the congregation in the praise of God.

The Function Of Praise Songs In African-american Worship

The praise song is integral to worship in the black tradition, expressing Spirit-filled praise and demanding the full participation of the worshiping community. Black praise singing is also expressive of themes important in black Christian experience and in the theology that has been formed out of this experience.

The Biblical Canticles In Worship

Canticles (from the Latin canticum, song) are biblical poems with powerful imagery and heightened emotional content. They are similar to psalms but are taken from other books of the Bible. Canticles formed the backbone of the daily office and have often been set to music. Indeed, they are among the richest repertories in all of music.

The Anthem In Worship

Anthems sung by choirs and soloists have a long history in Christian worship. Many of the world's finest composers have written anthems for use in worship. Yet the best anthems are those which unite such musical genius with concern for the text that is sung and the function of the anthem in the context of the entire worship service.

Gospel Song

Gospel music is a specifically American genre that has undergone many changes since its inception in revivalistic camp meetings during the mid-nineteenth century. This development has informed both worship style and musical roles within churches across denominational lines. Current trends in gospel music suggest that the influence of general public musical taste may be stronger than that of theology.

Historical Orientation

African-american Song

There are considerable resources for black song among African-American denominations and churches that are now widely available for churches in every tradition. This article is especially helpful in describing the different types of songs that have developed from the black worship tradition.

Hispanic-american Song

Recently published hymnals have included a wide variety of congregational songs from Hispanic churches. This article describes the experience of Hispanic Christians in America and the music that is often used in Hispanic-American churches.

Asian-American Song

According to this author's view, there is no distinctive hymnody that prevails in Asian-American churches, but there are certain characteristics and trends that typify these congregations. In providing detailed distinctions among the various Asian groups, this article does give some perspective on the music used in Asian-American churches and challenges that these churches are facing.

Shape-note Singing

Shape-note singing was an important part of the social and religious life of rural America before the Civil War. Entire communities gathered for all-day singing. Some of these gatherings, called conventions, lasted several days. In some parts of America, these shape-note singing festivals are held yet today, offering a very unique and vibrant style of music that could well be sung in churches of many traditions.

Music Of The World Church

Recent hymnals have included a wide variety of congregational songs from around the world. These provide new styles of music for use in worship and new ways of expressing the unity of the worldwide church.

Roman Catholic Service Music Since Vatican Ii

Roman Catholic liturgy, like that of many of the more liturgical churches, features texts that are sung in each liturgy or service. These are called the ordinary texts. Often these texts are sung. Settings of these texts, and other frequently used texts, are called service music or liturgical music. This music is part of the liturgy itself, not something that interrupts or is added to the liturgy. Since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Catholic churches have had more freedom in choosing service music.

The Music Of The Iona Community

From its location on an island off the coast of Scotland, the Iona Community has done much to influence the music of the world church, especially in North America. They have done this by providing the music used in their own worship services and by collecting songs from the church on every continent.

The Music Of The Taizé Community

Taiz is a worship renewal community in France that has developed a style of music and Scripture song for all parts of worship. The article below introduces the community, its worship, and song.

Prayer Chants

Like the music from Taiz described earlier, prayer chants may be comprised of one textual and musical phrase that is repeated. This kind of chant focuses the attention of the worshiper and allows the worshiper to experience God's presence without the need to be concerned about the mechanics of the music.