Archive | —Choosing Songs

Oh, Oh, Ooh, Ooh, La, La, Whoa

I’ve been thinking about the use of generic syllables in congregational singing for a while now. It’s not a new phenomenon. I remember singing, “Lai lai lai lai lai, lai lai lai lai lai lai,” as the last verse of the song in the 70s that was called “Then shall the virgin break forth into dance.” I think it was supposed to be the dance section. We sing, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, la la la la” and don’t think twice about it. And the Beatles did just fine with “ob-la-di, ob-la-da” and the epic ending to Hey Jude (Na Na Na Na na na Naaaaaaa). But recently an increasing number of modern worship songs feature syllables …

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What Kind of Songs Should You Lead in 2014?

I’ve read a number of posts and articles about how to determine what’s best for your congregation to sing. Kevin DeYoung did a two part series a couple years ago here and here that was excellent. As the new year began three thoughts came to me about the kinds of songs we should be leading in our churches or ministries. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but it might serve as the bare minimum for how we choose our songs. 1. Choose songs people CAN sing. This should be obvious. But important things often are – obvious and neglected. In one sense people can sing just about anything. I’ve been in concert setting where crowds are belting …

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Music vs. Truth Experiences – A Testimony

A few months ago I was talking with Jonathan Jackson, a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville who has also led worship in song on a few Sundays this past year. He was telling me how he was noticing a difference in how he approached leading and that the songs we sang were a large part of that. I asked him to write up a few thoughts about what he had been experiencing. He wrote: As a church culture I believe we have strayed away from singing songs that we deem “wordy” or “too deep” and have settled for songs that have one or two basic ideas about who God is or what He has done for us. We go for an experience that is much closer …

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Grace Has Come – So Has Our New Album

I’m overjoyed to report that last week (Aug. 1) we released Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans. I knew when we started this project that it would be a daunting task. It was. There just isn’t any way of adequately communicating the glorious truths in the book of Romans. But we had to try. I thank God that a lot of great songs for congregational worship have been written recently, like Not in Me and Man of Sorrows. More people are trying to write songs that are theologically driven, gospel aware, fresh, and singable. With Grace Has Come we let a book of the Bible drive the whole album. This is by no means an exhaustive musical …

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Electric guitar (477101105)

Worship Without Words

Recently I posted on Twitter: The fact that Psalms doesn’t include a soundtrack or notation clues us in to what God values most in our worship songs. I find it fascinating that God gave us a “songbook” with numerous musical references, but no actual music. It’s not that music is unimportant. Badly played or written music can make great theology sound obscure or unappealing. Great music can make shallow lyrics sound profound and incredibly moving. Which is why when we’re deciding what to sing congregationally, we want to give the greatest attention to the lyrics we’re singing. In response to my tweet someone asked: @bkauflin Is it not possible …

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Putting Songs Together – Video & Audio from WorshipGod11

At WorshipGod11 I presented this seminar I simply called “Putting Songs Together.” It was an attempt to give people a better grid for choosing what songs to sing in a gathering. Back in 2004 I gave a similar seminar, Choosing Songs Wisely, and thought it was time to update my thoughts on the topic. Despite the common liturgy of a music time followed by a preaching time, God hasn’t been ultra-clear about how we’re to use music in our meetings. We can include songs in various ways. They can be sung together consecutively, spread throughout the meeting, or at the beginning and end. In this seminar I try to allow for different practices, but …

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David Peterson on Revelation and the Songs We Sing

My top recommended book on a biblical theology of worship is David Peterson’s Engaging with God. If you’re responsible for leading in your church, either as a pastor or a musician, I think you’ll serve people more faithfully and biblically if you read it. I go through it every year with my interns and never fail to come away from our discussion times with fresh understanding and inspiration for leading corporate worship. Peterson focuses on worship as it’s understood in the Old Testament, the gospels, and various epistles. The chapters on Hebrews and Revelation by themselves are worth the price of the book. This past Wednesday we were discussing …

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The Gathering is Coming to Southern California Jan. 28

This past August we recorded The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11. It’s a collection of 15 songs that progressively tell the story of the gospel and our response to it. From my perspective, it’s one of the best albums we’ve done to date, both in terms of song content and creative musicianship. I’m happy to announce that we’ll be doing it all over again (at least singing the songs) in Orange County, CA on Saturday, January 28. A few of my good friends from California (Ryan and Jonathan Baird, and Eric Turbedsky, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church Orange County) emailed me about putting together an event that combined teaching in the afternoon …

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Resources for Your Worship Team from WorshipGod11: Leading, Songwriting, Tech

Last August at WorshipGod11 we offered 40 seminars for pastors, musicians, leaders, vocalists, instrumentalists, and tech teams. Today and tomorrow I’m posting the descriptions of a few that might serve you and your team in the coming year. Right clicking on the title will download the MP3, and of course, right clicking on the outline will get you the…outline. Leading Putting Songs Together – Bob Kauflin (outline) Why do you choose the songs you do? What factors go into deciding whether one song is better to use than another? What’s the difference between lyrical flow and musical flow? How can we use songs to effectively care for people’s …

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Song Lists from WorshipGod11

God met us in ways too numerous to count last week at WorshipGod11:The Gathering. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the conference, as well as some of the teachings, which included messages from Ray Ortlund, Jr, Bryan Chapell, Thabiti Anyabwile, myself, and Craig Cabaniss. Today, I’m just posting the songs we sang at the conference. Wednesday PM – Devon Kauflin and the Na Band How Great is Your Faithfulness (Matt Redman) Greater Than We Can Imagine (Mark Altrogge) Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Traditional) You Have Been Raised (Altrogge/Kauflin/Boer) Psalm 62 (Aaron Keyes/Stuart Townend) Name Above …

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We Belong to the Day – Free MP3 from Emu Music

This past Sunday at my church we introduced the song We Belong to the Day, written by Mike Morrow. It’s one of the many theologically rich songs coming our of Emu Music in Australia. I first taught it last April at the New Word Alive conference in Wales. The song is based on 1 Thess. 5:2-10 and is about how anticipating the return of Christ motivates us to pursue holiness and share the gospel. This is the gist of what I shared to introduce the song: “A few weeks ago there was quite a stir in the media about Jesus coming back, because someone had announced Jesus was returning at a specific time on a specific day. When Jesus didn’t come back …

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Songs that Reference God’s Judgments

In a recent post, I suggested that we generally shy away from singing songs about God’s judgments, but that judgment is a theme found in many Psalms and Scriptural songs. I promised that I’d follow up with a post that suggested some songs we can sing that reference God’s judgments and help us think about them in a way that honors God, encourages a passion for holiness, and strengthens our confidence in the gospel. So one month later, here we are. (If you didn’t read my previous post, please read it to get the context.) Before listing the songs, it’s important to mention a few things. First, God is the Judge, not us. We’re concerned about …

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Should We Sing Songs About God’s Judgments?

Some people had questions about my recent review of Doug O’Donnell’s book, God’s Lyrics, which I want to attempt to address in this post. The basic question has to do with the place of singing about God’s judgments. O’Donnell makes the point that many of the songs in the Old Testament rejoice over God’s just judgments (Ex. 15:1-18; 1Sam. 2:10; 2Sam. 22:44-51, etc.) A related theme has to do with God humbling the proud. Both themes are lacking in the song diet of many churches, yet they’re unquestionably present not only in OT songs, but in the New Testament as well (Lk. 1:51-55; Rev. 18:20; 19:1-5). Are You Kidding Me? We can struggle …

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Review of God’s Lyrics by Douglas Sean O’Donnell

A few weeks ago I finished God’s Lyrics: Rediscovering Worship Through Old Testament Songs. O’Donnell “draws out the historical, exegetical, and theological significance of the songs of Moses, Deborah, Hannah, David, and Habakkuk. He then shows, in the light of the person and work of Jesus Christ, how the lyrics of God’s Word apply to contemporary congregational singing.” (from the back cover) In other words, he’s seeking to answer the question, “What can Old Testament songs teach us about the songs we use for corporate worship today?” His answer? A lot. O’Donnell chose this method for two reasons. First, these songs provide “unique poetic …

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Two Songs for Suffering Saints

Our church is in the middle of a series on 1 Peter and we’ve been talking a lot about suffering. Peter starts off by telling us that we will be grieved by various kind of trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). For the Christian, trials are never purposeless, random, or wasted. God is using them to work out his perfect plans and to conform us to the image of his Son. How do we know this? Because he has promised in his Word that “for those who love God all things …

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