Every year, our “Snapshot” kids (3yr-5yr) sing for the congregation. Historically, they only sang in our first service which caused a few logistic challenges – running an altered set in the second service, mass exodus of parents and grandparents as soon as the kids were done.
Back in September, we ask the children’s ministry if they would consider singing in both services. It was a little daunting, but considering we do two hours of children’s ministry each week, we figured we could pull off two “choirs” with that many kids.
MY SOUL MAGNIFIES THE LORD (G)
I’ve wanted to do this Tomlin tune since his Christmas record came out. It’s always seemed like the perfect blend for us – a solid acoustic pop song that’s singable and worshipful that’s centered on Christ arrival. We made a few adjustments in our version. We didn’t start with the acoustic riff. It was planned, but after talking about it, we decided it wasn’t as cool as the full band coming in together. Secondly, we made it shorter. We went from the vamp to the instrumental and ended it there. I dig that long build on the CD, but it’s hard without a choir. We also built in a “teaching” pass of the chorus. Since the background vocalist and I were going to launch into the vamp, we wanted the congregation to sing that choir part. I changed it just a bit to simply repeat the line of the chorus over and over. The band pulled way back and played through the vamp part while I taught it.
COME, THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS (E)
I was completely unaware of Daniel Renstrom until about a month ago. I picked up his On The Incarnation record and immediately learned this song. This has to be my favorite carol and I loved how much power Renstrom put into it. It also doesn’t hurt that we’ve got an AWESOME mandolin player on our team! I dropped the key to make it more singable. (Don’t think I didn’t want to do it in the key of G. Tenor 4 life!)
Renstrom switches back and forth between singing the traditional count and stretching the end each refrain. We made that a bit even. The only other challenge was singing it a bit more traditionally. I dig Renstrom’s soul, but I tried to make sure that folks who knew the song by heart could easily join in.
Our Executive Pastor welcomed folks and transitioned to the kids with scripture and prayer. The kids did such a great job. This year, we experimented with riser placement and found a way to position the kids front and center and I think it worked out okay. We had a pretty even number of kids in each service and we seemed to retain more of our “Snapshots” guests than in previous years.
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH (G)
Another Tomlin tune. Sorry, but that record is just too good! On Thursday, our guitar player wasn’t really prepped on the intro, so he asked if we could just all come in together. It was the right call. I liked the full band intro much better. Have to give serious props to our band on this one. Groove on this one was PERFECT! We shortened the repeating refrains on the end. I like it on the record, but since they repeat the first line three times, you run the risk of your congregation singing the wrong melody, which we try to be respect.
I talked some more about Advent – the two “arrivals” of Christ and reminded our folks once again of the importance of holding both the comings of Jesus with equal reverence and respect. Since I read the first week reading and the second week was a video over live music, I had a church member do a live reading. Kim Jacobs stepped up and read this:
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.”
HE HAS COME [GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN] (B)
This was another NorthPoint tune that I wanted to do last year but couldn’t pull off. Since we now have two keyboard players, this cool G#m intro was perfect for them so we jumped right into it. This song was so awesome. Not only did the band handle the “dark” aspect of this song with precision, but our singer, Sarah, hit every element perfectly. In the first service, I had folks seated during the song, which naturally cuts down on congregational singing. It wasn’t weird or anything, but in second service, I had them standing. Even now, I’m not sure which one was best. Both versions went great from the stage and I was glad to have such a beloved carol that so beautifully expresses our rescue in Jesus.
If you’d like to hear the album versions of these songs, I’ve featured them in a Spotify playlist here.