I have been a Director of Music for multiple different clergy and countless different leaders of the church councils. My leadership has always been in main line, traditional, Protestant churches. At some point in a senior pastors tenure or a council leaders time, they decide that we must have a “contemporary” worship service. I always cringe when I hear this because what they really want is contemporary music with most of the rest of the service staying the same. The clergy—male or female—may take their tie off or their robe off to appear more casual, but the message and the delivery of the message along with the scriptures and the order of worship stays the same. A few leaders have gone “way out on a limb” and done away with the bulletin (oh the nerve), but they usually go back to one in short order. The one element of music that MUST stay the same as you incorporate “contemporary music” into the service is QUALITY. And I mean quality in every way—quality of preparation, quality of composition, quality of musicianship, quality of direction… quality in every way. The music may not be composed by Bach or Mozart but it should be of no less quality in the message it brings.
I have visited countless churches that utilize contemporary music. Some have done a really nice job. The singing and playing is first rate, the choice of music along with the interpretation has been excellent. But more often than not, it has been bad. This is one area that I am extremely proud to be a part of the Hal Leonard team. Our editors responsible for Shawnee Press, Hal Leonard, Boosey & Hawkes, G.Schirmer, Mark Foster, Fred Bock, Hinshaw and all of the rest are committed to selecting, producing, and publishing sacred music that is first rate in every way. We begin with the text and all of the elements that the text involves. The musical content is next. Our editors work to create a readable, accurate, elegantly engraved score that captures the spirit of what the composer was after. Our presses and warehouse and dealer network do everything possible to deliver this music in a timely and accurate way.
Sure, lots has changed in the way music is presented in our churches, but you can rest assured that when you visit the Hal Leonard web site or receive a Hal Leonard/Shawnee Press Worship Songs promotion, you will be receiving music that has been curated and selected by people committed to sacred music and all that this means.
In this spirit of quality choral music from the 21st century, I offer the following titles which may be suitable for your winter/ spring church season: