Connecting Songs in Worship
By: Branon Dempsey
When it comes to worship leading, how do you deal with the “dead-spots” in between songs?
True, silence is golden, but not when long durations induce people into a coma. Keeping a consistent flow in worship not only engages people in God’s praise, but also sustains connectivity and intimacy.
With just a few tweaks, you can help change those awkward moments and sighs into intrigue and engagement.
On our Worship Team Training Facebook site, I’ve encountered a few folks who have struggled with this issue. It’s also one we cover extensively in our one-on-one private WTT Weekend Workshops for worship teams.
There are many reasons why the flow in worship may be disconnected. It can range from lack of preparation, to lack of musical ideas, or simply, not knowing what to do when the song is over.
There is no magic bullet to this answer, nor a one size-fits-all.
However, we will look at three ways to help spark your creativity in making a good flow for the next worship service.
1. Connectivity by Key
Good ranges are middle C to C Treble line or D (middle) to D (treble line). Choosing good keys is about finding comfortable ranges for everyone.
Not just a song set, but a key set. Like a large orchestral work, each movement generally has its own key, context and flow into the next musical section. Moving from key to key not just sets up the new tonal center, but also delivers a sense of emotional direction.
For instance, as you’re choosing songs for worship, arrange them by a progression of keys. As in a well-constructed melody, ascending or descending keys can set the tone and mood of the music flow. Two approaches of key arrangements are to move by step and by skip.
By Step – Moving by Scale: Hosanna (Baloche/Brown) Key of G | Marvelous Light (Hall) Key of A | Forever Reign (Ingram/Morgan) Key of B | How He Loves (McMIllian) Key of C.
By Skip - Moving by Fourths: Happy Day (Cantelon/Hughes) Key of C | Your Grace is Enough (Maher) Key of F | Glory to God Forever (Beeching/Fee) Key of B | Here I Am To Worship (Hughes) Key of E.
2. Connecting the Hook or Melody
Let’s say, from the example above, we’re moving from “Hosanna” to “Marvelous Light.” Near the end of “Hosanna,” we’re holding out the G chord for 4 bars and vamping the lyrical line “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna.”
Afterwards, move into the bridge of “Marvelous Light,” sing/play once through: “lift my hands and spin around…” Upon the next section, direct modulate into A, right on verse 1 and move through the tune.
Sometimes, beginning with the bridge or an ending vamp of a song can bring a fresh change to the mix and build up.
Another idea is moving from “Glory to God Forever” into “Here I Am To Worship” by using the Choruses. On the last line of “Glory To God Forever,” the last chord is an F#sus moving back to the 1 Chord.
Instead, move from F#sus to BMaj. sus (5th chord of new key) – hold for 2 bars – begin to sing the line “so here I am to worship…” and now your into the song’s key of E. This modulating method is referred to as “Pivot Chord Modulation,” as you pivot on the 5 chord of the new key, and resolve to the 1 of the new key.
3. Connectivity by Groove
A few ideas: ending on the song “Your Grace is Enough,” as you hit the final chord, hold that last note (fermata) and during that same time, have the drums begin the next tune “Glory To God Forever.” To spice it up, you can go Church of Christ style and sing the chorus apcapella with drums, and let the band enter at the top of Verse 1 along with all voices.
Another trick is to end the final chord on the tune “Forever Reign,” use a keyboard synth patch to slowly fade into a C2 chord (omit the 3rd) to begin the verse of “How He Loves.”
You can also use the electric lead to outline the chorus by few notes) as a companion to the strings. Ideas are endless, just pick one or two and practice to build familiarity.
Once you’ve worked out the kinks and your team is comfortable, try one of your ideas out in a service. Remember the simple things as well: brief passage of a related Scripture verse, key line of the next song’s chorus or a short meaningful prayer (not a sermon).
Final encouragement: have fun!
Now that you’ve done all to prepare and rehearse your parts, test your wings and see how it flies. Connect with the music and the moment, as each song completes the musical landscape. Enjoy the flow of worship, unhindered, as people continuously lift up sung prayers to God.
Branon Dempsey is the chief executive officer, founder, and training director of Worship Team Training, a ministry providing live workshops and online resources for local worship ministries, www.worshipteamtraining.com.