Sung worship is a really important aspect of a worshipping community – it can also be one of the most difficult to get right.
Do you go with hymns, choruses or contemporary worship songs or a combination of all of them? Who is going to lead your sung worship? What instruments do they play? What music will they need and where will they get it from? How do you make sure it is loud enough for everyone to hear but not so loud that people will find it uncomfortable.
We don’t claim to have all the answers or to have the three secrets to “perfect” sung worship but we can use some of our experience to help you to make the most of your resources.
For thoughts on choosing the style and content please have a look at the document entitled “Choosing Songs for Worship.” If you only have musicians occasionally or perhaps have none at all please see the document “Help! We have no musicians!”
This document will deal primarily with the practicalities of leading sung worship regularly with a musician or musicians.
How many musicians do we need?
We’ve all seen the “professional” worship bands like at Hillsong or at Soul Survivor with what can seem like an endless supply of musicians. These bands are great and it is easy to feel like we need to copy the way these successful group do things but this often isn’t practical. In fact for a small to medium sized café-style service smaller is probably better. We have two musicians who lead our sung worship (one guitarist and a pianist) and occasionally we have a bass player as well. Some weeks we will have one or two of them play and others we use all three. A smaller music group fits well with the smaller, more intimate style of the service.
Getting the sound right:
If you’re an expert in the field of sound engineering and have a huge array of technical gadgets at your disposal then this might be a section to skip over. However if you are just starting up and wondering whereHere are a few basic tips that we use to try and get things right at Zone2 in Liverpool Cathedral.
- Keep it simple:We use a small but really effective sound system.You can buy all kinds of expensive mixing desks and speakers but if you are starting from scratch and trying to keep things nice and simple we would recommend the Yamaha Stagepas Series. The Stagepas 300 has two speakers, an 8 channel mixing desk that you can connect most instruments to (microphones, keyboards, guitars etc as well as connecting your mp3 player or laptop up. It is relatively cheap (at around £300- 350)v and the desk and cables pack away into the back of the speakers. It packs a pretty decent punch that should be more than enough for most congregations. You can find more information on the Yamaha website but we’d recommend shopping round before you buy as it may be cheaper elsewhere. (http://uk.yamaha.com/en/products/proaudio/pa_systems/stagepas_300)
- Borrow someone technical!Even if you don’t have someone technical in your congregation you probably know someone who does know what they’re doing who can lend a hand getting your equipment set up for the first time and showing someone else the ropes.
- Have a sound check each week–make sure you have some time before the service for your musicians to practice and check that the sound is right. If your sound desk isn’t at the back of your room have someone stand at the back of the room and tell you if the balance of the sound is right. Does the piano drown out the guitar? Does everything need turning up or down? It is also worth checking any video or music that you are playing through a laptop or mp3 player as it will not necessarily be the same volume as your musicians.