Second week of leading guitar-less. Pretty much the same as last week…great congregational singing and engagement, good sound mix, slight awkwardness as the band learns to listen to each other more than just relying on the acoustic guitar.
Set wasn’t without its flubs, but overall songs and transitions came together. We had our friend, Kerry, filling on electric and we used a new acoustic rhythm player named Taylor. Both guys did a great job.
BEAUTY OF THE CROSS (link)
We’ve done this song a few times, usually using the Jonny Diaz version, but I decided to try the Breakaway live version. It’s a more mellow start and I think I probably should have worked on giving that some extra energy. Probably should have brought kick drum in earlier to propel the rhythm a bit. The live version has much simpler turnarounds, which made the song a bit easier to play. For our set, I had the piano player carry the riff while electric guitar gave us more power. High point was definitely the bridge – the band did a good job of adapting to the heavy tom part in that section.
After the first song, I welcomed folks and then explained what we would be reading together. In the past year, we’ve used the Heidelberg Confession a few times for congregational readings, but I’ve decided to try and commit to working our way through that document as consistently as possible. For “Question 1,” I used Tim Keller’s New City Catechism app to work on the working of the question and response. However…when using this confession, I like to include one of the many scripture texts in the document that support the confession. This week, I forgot to include that, but I’ve already made sure we’ve got a verse for next time. After the confession, I prayed and the band started the next tune.
CHRIST THE LORD (link)
This song is already doing better than I imagined. The band is completely at home with the straight head rock groove and the chorus melody is instantly singable. We’re still struggling with the top line of each chorus – it’s a long line with just one chord ringing and the band keeps jumping to the next line accidentally. Will have to remember that next time we do it! Our drums and percussion guys did a great job on this one.
Senior Pastor was up for welcome and did a great job. We sometimes explain corporate worship as a “rehearsal” – not in that we’re getting ready for Heaven, but rather to remind our people that the sort of devotion and courage and boldness we show on Sunday mornings should be a trademark of our lives every single day. Ross is great at explaining this in the light of scripture and he did it wonderfully on Sunday.
O THIS GOD (link)
The last time we did this one, I mentioned that I was gonna’ take a break from it because we had done it so much lately. The break must have been good because this one came back strong! We did a thing Sunday where the electric guitar carried the riff in the turnarounds but the piano and B3 doubled the riff variation in the choruses. It seemed to work and let the guitarist focus on more texture during the choruses.
On Thursday, I had our drummer build the transition here. He knew I would be praying in between these two songs, so he had shaker start as soon as I was done. Piano played through one line of intro, then acoustic guitar, then the whole band fell in. We ended up tweaking it because starting with the shaker just felt a little odd.
DEBT IS PAID (link)
This song was probably our biggest struggle. The song actually went great, but it didn’t feel as full on stage. This was primarily because I wasn’t playing acoustic guitar. When we do this song, I play an aggressive, busy acoustic part to subdivide the beat some. I stay on the higher strings and do almost what a shaker would do in a song. Our acoustic player did a great job and worked really hard at finding that groove, but it was a really new style of playing for him. Later, I stood in the sanctuary and listened to the band play through the song instrumentally and was surprised at how full it felt out in the house.
I sat folks down for the next transition because I knew it would take awhile. The last song was a new take on an old hymn and I spent some time talking about the song’s history, specifically in the US. I said that the church at large seems to be very fearful about the US and that I think God’s always calling us from fearfulness to faithfulness.
JESUS, FIRM FOUNDATION (link)
Since the song was new, I kept folks seated as we started. Initially, I thought I might have them stand for the last chorus, but felt that was pretty manipulative on my part, so I just sang my guts out and didn’t worry about it. Listen to me, worship leaders…you need to do this song. In both services, my folks got to their feet and sang it more confidently than I’ve heard them sing in a long, long while. For real. It’s that good. In second service, I decided to double the chorus 2. It was a good idea, didn’t come off as smoothly as I would have hoped, but the song worked nonetheless.