Communion solo by cellist Samuel Cho

Samuel Cho

Last weekend Topeka Bible Church’s resident cellist, Samuel Cho, played his arrangement of “Near the Cross with Jesus Love Me” — a thought provoking arrangement that represents Jesus’ death on the cross.  He also played it at the Overflow worship event held Fellowship Bible Church later that evening (another great Topeka worship event).

The foot stomps Sam did represent the nails being driven through Christ’s hands.  You can hear the rope being twisted — not a fun experience musically, which is the point.  It was a tense moment.  Have a listen here.

Free Online Worship Study | got worship?

Everyone can benefit from sharpening their game at what they do — whether is someone who is raising kids, a team preparing for the superbowl, or the president of a world power.  This hold true for worship leaders and pastors.

That’s what peaked my interested when http://gotworship.net/ was facilitating a webinar for worship leaders with the book by Tim Hughes.  What a great chance to sharpen the focus of worship leading with others.

If you are a worship leader/pastor out there…maybe you’d enjoy a little sharpening this month. Why not join us?  Here are the details…

Free Online Worship Study

January 30, 2011 in Leadership Course,Worship Training

If you are a worship leader or worship pastor interested in growing your team, starting a team, or simply learning to become a better leader – then I want to invite you to a free online worship study that we will be launching next month.

The course is free – but we will be going over a book by Tim Hughes entitled Here I Am To Worship for the course.

We will break apart the chapters each week and have a set time that we can discuss the content and have devotionals and lessons designed to help you become a more effective leader.  These weekly lessons will be in webinar form – and you can chose to actively participate in the discussions or sit back and absorb.

Interested?  Grab your copy of the book by clicking the picture of the book cover or by clicking here.

Then, use the form below to sign up for the course.  We are scheduled to begin the first week in March – so you will have plenty of time to pick up the required book and have it shipped to you.

via Free Online Worship Study | got worship?.

Loops for A Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong — some of my favorite songs right now

The recent album by Hillsong has some great songs on it. I have to think God smiles when music for worship is written like these. We will be teaching some of these song in the near future at our church. And finding loops and click tracks that go with new music can be difficult — but mymusicwriter.com has 6 of the songs off the album posted (here). I’m excited for these fresh batch of new songs that Hillsong is cranking out. These were very fun to work on. It’s easy to create stuff for songs that are clear cut awesomeness.

Yes, it’s funny to watch again. Sunday’s Coming [video]

Can’t resist to post this again.

Pushing limits of GarageBand loop making for worship, Rain Down (Crowder)

Many of you know there’s a website called mymusicwriter.com that loops we use are published to.  Here’s a crack at a worship loop for the song Rain Down by David Crowder Band. Enjoy the sample…all from Apple’s GarageBand. If you don’t get into the weirdness of the loops, that’s OK. It will sound amazing live.

(You’ll have to image it with live drums playing along.)

MP3 sample file

There once was a church that published names in the bulletin…

There once was a church that published names in the bulletin of the “special music” vocal solos every week. (Yes, even I’ve done this in the distant past.)  Some of the vocalists sang like larks — others barked.  And it usually turned out that people would whisper to their own family members and friends ahead of time, “Look who’s singing today…it’s gonna
be goooood. I love it when they sing.”  And on those off weeks the comment would be, “See who’s singing today (rolling the eyes).  Hope it’s a short song today.”

I’ve heard people say years ago, “Well, I don’t know who they are if their names aren’t published?”  Oh really?  Does it really matter you know who they are?  Are you more concerned about the lark singing, or the content of the song lyrics?  What about going up to them following the morning and introduce yourself if you REALLY need to know who it is?  Who’s the focus when we say WE NEED TO KNOW WHO’S SINGING?

That leads to ask the question, “Are we waiting for the planets to align in order for us to worship.” Come on, admit it…we love it when it seems like everything is “perfect” and it appears something authentic, meaningful, and heartfelt took place in a church worship environment.  You know what it looks like — that perfect combination of vocalists, the lighting levels are such, volume levels are ideal (for you), the songs were your favorites, the hymn/modern song ratio was in your preference, the cloths worn on stage didn’t distract or embarrass you, and everything else that typically would make you think about something other than God simply vanished…and God was left as the object of your worship.

Question.  At what point did we needs the planets to align in order for us to focus on God?

News flash, the planets rarely, and sometimes never, align. So stop waiting.  Stop caring.  Stop pining for something that is not God-centered.

So what do we do? For starters, let’s make a decision ahead of time to make God our focus before we show up and begin to make us the focus.  We, the worshippers, have the complete ability to make the decision to make worship about us or all about God.

Which will it be for you this week?

Not To Us

Verse 1

The cross before me the world behind
No turning back raise the banner high
It’s not for me it’s all for You
Let the heavens shake and split the sky
Let the people clap their hands and cry
It’s not for us it’s all for You

Chorus 1

Not to us, but to Your name be the glory
Not to us, but to Your name be the glory

Verse 2
Our hearts unfold before Your throne
The only place for those who know
It’s not for us it’s all for You
Send Your holy fire on this offering
Let our worship burn for the world to see
It’s not for us it’s all for You

Bridge 1

The earth is shaking
The mountains shouting
It’s all for You
The waves are crashing
The sun is raging
It’s all for You
The universe spinning and singing
It’s all for You
Your children dancing dancing dancing
It’s all for YouIt’s all for You

CCLI Song No. 4046093¬© 2001 worshiptogether.com songs | sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) | (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)Chris Tomlin | Jesse ReevesFor use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights Reserved. http://www.ccli.comCCLI License No. 21985

Sweetly Broken, a worship song with two words that don’t go together

The two words (sweetly, broken) really don’t seem like they belong together. In fact, I don’t recall ever saying a sentence to anyone with the two words together.  Yet, a popular worship song (Sweetly Broken) — the most recent song we’ve been learning, puts them right together.

Sweetly is a word that is attractive and positive. When we eat a candy bar, it should be sweet.  When we write that Christmas card to grandma, it should be sweet.  When we talk to our boy/girl friend or spouse, well — you get the point.  In contrast, let’s look at the other word.

Broken is a word that is more unattractive and negative. When you are ready to ride your bike, it’s a bummer when the chain is broken.  When the temperature is way up, the air conditioning doesn’t work, and you live in Kansas; it’s a big bummer.  When your relationship breaks up — bummer.

However, in regards to the Gospel — the two words couldn’t be a better match. In fact, they have everything to do with how salvation works.  Salvation, very simply put, is recognizing that your relationship with God is broken because of the sin in your life.  But if you recognize and believe that Jesus Christ died as payment for those sins and came back to life three days later, and therefore has power of death…your belief and complete trust in Jesus’ act saves you from an eternal separation from God after this life.

Think of it like sugar cane. Sugar cane isn’t really sweet until it gets ripped apart, shredded, and all the juice is squeezed/evaporated out of it.  Then it’s sweet.  It wouldn’t be sweet unless it was broken first.

Here’s how salvation is a sweet brokeness. So God sent His son Jesus to be broken on the cross (death) — in order to turn it around into something sweet (salvation for you and me).  That’s how the words work together.  It was the best deal and worst deal.  God is just and demands payment for sin — bummer.  Yet God is love, and therefore provided the death in our place — His Son Jesus Christ.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.   Isaiah 53:5

How about you? Have you been broken by sin (the Bible says no one is perfect, without sin)?  Do you know you’ll end up with the sweetest deal…spending an eternity after this life with God in heaven?  Or are you banking on the fact that you’ll get the heaven by being good (an attempt to somehow break yourself out of the sinful situation)?  Why don’t you today decide to simply tell God you recognize what He did for you — and claim through repentance, belief, and trust that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Sweetly Broken
Verse 1
To the cross I look
And to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing
On it my Savior
Both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is Love
And God is Just
Chorus 1
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words
So lost in love
I’m sweetly broken
Wholly surrendered
Verse 2
What a priceless gift
Undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified
You called me out of death
You called me into life
And I was under Your Wrath
Now through the cross
I’m reconciled
Bridge
In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your Redeeming Love
And how great is Your Faithfulness
CCLI Song No. 4514635
© 2005 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (Admin. by Music Services)
Jeremy Riddle
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights Reserved. http://www.ccli.com
CCLI License No. 21985

How to transition when using click tracks and loops #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists #WorshipSet

There’s a problem in lots of churches when it comes to worship participation — there’s lots of standing around waiting to be led in worship. You know what I’m talking about.  There’s that 16 measure rippin’ electric guitar solo, the 12 measure outro that’s the same as the intro, the 2 second pause between songs, and then the 8 measure needed intro to establish tempo/key/feel.  That’s a lot of ‘waiting around’ for worshippers who are used to more of the ‘sing only when directed to’ type of format.  More charismatic influences use these times to allow the song and worshipper to breath.  But it’s a problem in my churches who do not follow that more charismatic/free worship structure.

The solution is to turn these non-participatory moments into participatory ones can greatly increase the tracking of worshippers.

Here’s what I mean…

The most difficult part (and crucial part) of any musical worship environment are the transitions from song to song. Once you establish a key, maintain tempo, get a groove, and begin singing — a song can virtually run itself.  However, once the song is over, getting to the next song can be a challenge.  There may be a tempo difference, difference in key, a mood/texture shift, or even needing room for something else to happen (pray, scripture reading, video, etc.).

Using click tracks to create “transition click tracks” can create a smooth flow from song to song.  This means there are clicks/loops for the songs, but also click tracks and loops that guide through the in-between times.  These loops can create a smooth live feel that link songs into a more seamless set.

Worship Set from mymusicwriter.com

For example, this past week we had these three songs in a row.

Sweetly Broken (B)
New Doxology (E)
You Shine (E)

Began Sweetly Broken with the full intro (to establish key/tempo/feel). When we got to the end of Sweetly Broken, we simply played an Eno3 chord on the final word — leaving a deceptive/unsettled feel.  It’s typically OK to leave a song hanging at the end on a dominant (V chord) or subdominant (IV chord) if it sets up the next song’s key.  For example, if a song is in the key of B…the the deceptive chords to end on would be either an E or F# (subdominant and dominant respectively).  The *Eno3 chord played at the end of Sweetly Broken sets up the beginning of New Doxology (Key of E).

*no3 simply means the chord doesn’t have the third played in it, so you’d play an E and B…or sometimes called open fifth

The more tricky transition is going from the New Doxology into You Shine. Yes, they are the same key — but they are drastically different in both tempo and style.  The solution here is to sing a SLOW version of You Shine’s ‘pre-chorus’ in order to denote that we are transitioning to a new song.  This means after the last note of New Doxology, while still stirring the last Eno3 chord — a NEW click track would count off into You Shine’s pre-chorus at a slow tempo.  Once the pre-chorus is completely sung at that slower tempo, another click track triggers for the actually You Shine song.  Also, the proverbial 8 bar intro into You Shine is stripped down to simply two measures of Eno3 vamp to launch into the first verse.

It sounds complicated, but all these transition loops are automatically built into the click tracks & loops available at mymusicwriter.com — so all the work is done.  Figuring out transitions can be daunting at first.  It takes time and fore-thought.  And if you are using click tracks, the live timing and feel are critical for the end result for worshippers who are following.  Minimizing timing distractions and working out flow in advance can increase the opportunity for worshippers to be in an environment that guides them smoothly.

And as for those electric guitar solos or extended piano intros, try displaying Bible verses that keep the worshipper engaged.  It will point their eyes to God, and maybe take them off the stage for that moment.

Here was our line up…

  1. ___ TEST AND SOUND CHECK TRACKS BELOW
  2. Test – click LEFT and loop RIGHT
  3. Sound Check – Full Band
  4. Sound Check – Vocals
  5. ___ WORSHIP SETS BELOW
  6. Set 1 – Beautiful One, Jesus Messiah
  7. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  8. Set 2 – September 14, 2010
  9. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  10. ___ END click here (cue)
  11. ___ SINGLE CLICK TRACKS BELOW
  12. Beautiful One – loop and click 126 BPM
  13. Jesus Messiah – loop and click 86 BPM
  14. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  15. Sweetly Broken – loop and click 93 BPM [Bb]
  16. > Invite to Stand
  17. New Doxology – loop and click 86 BPM
  18. You Shine – loop and click 128 BPM
  19. > Greet & Move Table Cue
  20. ___ END click here (cue)
  21. ___ FULL SONGS BELOW
  22. Beautiful One (A)
  23. Jesus Messiah (A)
  24. Sweetly Broken (Bb)
  25. New Doxology (E)
  26. You Shine (E)

Incorporating a Chicago-style horn section #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists #WorshipSet

Chicago horn section

This morning was another “not normal” morning for our worship environment. Yes, we used our normal two synchronized bands, click tracks and loops library, singers, and the like — but we added one different element that gave the style a spin.  It was a simply Chicago-style horn section (Trumpet, Sax, Trombone).  Chicago-style, meaning like the popular band Chicago back in the 70’s and 80’s.  Who knew that Chicago would be “second only to the Beach Boys in terms of singles and albums, Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful U.S. pop/rock and roll groups.” [1]

Here is one email received today, immediately following the morning.

On Sun, Sep 12, 2010 at 2:18 PM:

Great job with worship today!  I’m an old brass player, and although I am usually not too fond of brass in worship, apparently it’s because no one has shown me how to do it right until now.  You were perfectly balanced and really complemented the vocalists.  I’m guessing you wrote the brass parts?  It reminded me of why I loved the group Chicago back in high school.

Keep it up!

[name withheld]

Here was my response…

Thanks for the encouragement (name withheld).  I’ll certainly pass it on to the musicians.

I’m with you — I’m usually not a fan of how brass is incorporated into worship bands (from past experience), but some of my favorite groups from my younger years are Chicago, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind, and Fire.  However, if the brass parts are written in true “horn section” style — it can work.

Wish I could claim I wrote the brass arrangements, but they were all purchased from praisecharts.com.  They were the horn parts taken straight from the full orchestrations, but they work as stand alone horn section parts.

The balancing act was kudos to the sound operator — they can make us sound worse than we really are, just like we are, or better than we really are.  The sound board is the most important instrument in the entire house, in my opinion.

By the way, let me know if you ever want to break out your instrument — would love to have another like-minded brass player in our ranks.

Bryan

Yes, it takes extra work to put together elements. A volunteer had to assemble the sheet music for the horn section.  We edited down the music to fit the roadmap to the loops and click tracks. We had to pipe down the horn section with the synchronized band in the Lower Auditorium from the Main Auditorium.  The horn section had to be available for the rehearsal and weekend.  Extra mics and platforms had to be setup.  The stage needed to be reconfigured.  Certain songs had to be picked — and then cross your fingers that the arrangements work with Hillsong, Baloche, modern hymn arrangements, and Redman songs.

Are these extra elements really worth it in the end? As long as you can keep a balence (don’t burn out from it or overuse the elements as to diminish its value) — yes, it is worth it.  It creates variety from week to week, uses the talents God has assembled, and provides an added challenge to both musicians and techs.

And here is the full setlist…

Setlist from September 12, 2010

What I don’t know #sundaysetlist #sundaysetlists #WorshipSet http://bit.ly/bVkgM2

We do some fancy stuff at our church, like lots of churches do. We synchronize two bands with loops and click tracks, we do a light show in a 3-story building with live musicians, we write some of our own kids music.  And we aren’t in the top tier — ’cause there’s lots of churches doing way more creative stuff than we are.  The point is not the fancy stuff — but what effect (if any) the fancy stuff has on the kingdom of God.

Beyond the fancy stuff, there’s a lot I simply don’t know and haven’t done. One of those is guitars — even though I lead with one the majority of the time.  Being late to the guitar game, I’m amazed at how a simple change in instrument creates interest.  Up to this point I’ve used a Variax 700, but am using a loaned American Telecaster with humbucker pickups.  In the last two weeks I’ve had more questions and comments about the guitar.  It’s funny, cause I really don’t know that much about it — but obviously there are people out there who really care.

I care about quality. Yes, I care about good guitar tone.  Yes, I care about playability.  Yes, I care how it looks and feels when you play.  But I simply don’t know enough history in guitars to know what people are into.  Case in point, up until last year I thought the guy who invented noiseless pickups had the last name “Humbucker” — until someone pointed out they simply “buck” the “hum” and are noiseless, thus called humbuckers.  Who knew?  I didn’t.  Five years ago I didn’t know what pickups where.  If you are reading this and you don’t know either, welcome to my club.

Setlist for August 22, 2010

  1. ___ TEST AND SOUND CHECK TRACKS BELOW
  2. Test – click LEFT and loop RIGHT
  3. Sound Check – Full Band
  4. Sound Check – Vocals
  5. ___ WORSHIP SETS BELOW
  6. Set 1 – August 19, 2010
  7. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  8. ___ Spacer (10 minute silence)
  9. Set 2 – August 17, 2010
  10. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  11. ___ END click here (cue)
  12. ___ SINGLE CLICK TRACKS BELOW
  13. GREETING This Is Our God (INSTRUMENTAL) – loop and click 81 BPM
  14. Come Thou Almighty King – loop and click 135 BPM
  15. You Shine – loop and click 128 BPM
  16. As the Deer (funky) – loop and click 90 BPM
  17. ___ PAUSE click here (cue)
  18. The Power of the Cross – loop and click 68 BPM
  19. Your Grace Still Amazes Me – loop and click 65
  20. Majesty (Passion) – loop and click 75 BPM
  21. ___ END click here (cue)
  22. ___ FULL SONGS BELOW
  23. Come, Thou Almighty King (E)
  24. You Shine
  25. As the Deer (funky)
  26. The Power of the Cross
  27. Your Grace Still Amazes Me (C)
  28. Majesty
  29. This Is Our God