Congregational singing, what a glorious sound. There is nothing better than to hear the voices of your church family singing out God’s praises. When it comes to this topic, the debate is never ending. Everyone seems to have an opinion and wants to have their voice heard. We have arguments about whether the churches today are singing churches or people wanting to be entertained.
This summer, I started a new position as a Fine Arts Manager for the Kroc Center in Omaha, Nebraska. It is a brand new position, and I love the challenge of building an all inclusive program for the visual and fine arts. We are in the process of moving and have been visiting several churches. I have had the pleasure of experiencing worship from the prospective of a congregational member and not the worship leader. It has allowed me to see things through a different lens.
When it comes to singing, I am a baritone. I sing right in that comfortable range where most people sing. I am not a high tenor or a low bass. I reside right in the mid-range. As the music starts up I anticipate and get excited for the time I get to join in the singing and offer my gift as a part of the worship… and then it hits me. I start to sing and quickly find the song totally out of my range! I either have to try to squeak out the high notes or draw attention to myself by rumbling down an octave below the singers on stage. Most worship leaders today are proficient and capable of singing all those great worship songs in the same key as the artists on the radio. However, this is NOT the range the average, normal, everyday singers reside in. It has always been my goal to keep all the congregational songs in the midrange of C to C.
As you look forward to planning worship this fall, stop and think about that average singer in your congregation. Not the singers in your choir or on your worship team, but the everyday people that would never sing on stage, but love to sing in the congregation. Keep the melodies of the songs between C and C as much as you can. I know this means more work as you may need to transpose a few (or most of the songs), but in the end you will find your people will sing more and be stronger as they sing out God’s praises. You will truly be giving your people “a gift to be singing.”
- Look at the range of the melody of 2-3 of your best worship songs. Do they fall in the C to C range? If not, try singing it one Sunday in a lower key.
- Talk to a few of the people in your church who really enjoy worship but are not part of the choir or worship team. Get their prospect on the congregational singing. We need to be sure to include them in the worship dialogue.
Sing on, friends!