Weekly around the globe, church families of all sizes and cultures come together to worship God and to hear his holy word preached. Hopefully that includes times of joyful celebration and adoration of the Savior in song. The number one priority for every church’s music ministry should be to build a God glorifying song database. It should be filled with songs that have proven to be effectively used by the Holy Spirit to reveal the most compelling truths about God, his glorious gospel, his mission to the lost, and our future with him. It should be continually growing with new songs as God continues to inspire songwriters around the world and into the future until his return.
Building a Worship Song Database – We use three primary (but flexible) guidelines/categories for choosing songs for our database:
- Songs of Declaration
We need not look much further than the book of Psalms to see what was called for and what came forth from the saints of old when they came into his glorious temple. Songs of loud celebration, proclamation, and declaration of who God is in his awesome glory and majesty. Songs that exalt his name, his creation, his works, his attributes, and his word. Songs that support the full expression of the gathered saints praise – in body, soul, and spirit. (i.e., shouts of joyful praise, lifting of holy hands, dancing, etc…)
- Songs of Redemption
Songs that proclaim his glorious gospel and the re-telling of it; bringing us fresh perspectives of our salvation; especially songs that effectively communicate Christ’s substitutionary sinless life and death, and his resurrection. Songs that tell of our sinfulness and greatest need; and make us aware of how much we have been forgiven. Songs of his amazing grace and kindness to lost souls demonstrated by his sacrificial love.
- Songs of Response
Songs that provide us with ample opportunity to express the overflow of praise and worship that comes through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.
“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” Psalm 45:1
Many responsive songs by themselves can be weak theologically but when coupled with songs of redemption, afford the saints a foundation for responding to our God.
Of course for many songs there will be overlap between categories but that’s not a problem because these are flexible – not fixed – guidelines/categories.
The Progression – As the database continues to grow with these blessed songs, these categories also provide some helpful direction for band leaders preparing song selections for services. Our band leaders select songs with these categories in mind when preparing for services. First songs will usually be songs of declaration, followed with songs of redemption, and lastly songs of response.
We do not actually tag our songs with these categories although we could, but we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our band leaders during the selection process, praying for them to hear from God in their choices. The pastors always review selections for final approval and also provide any dynamic direction that may affect choices like a particular topic or song request.
We believe these categories help us to be more focused and purposeful in our planning in order to best serve our congregations and guests. Singing songs that declare and proclaim the God of all creation lays a foundation for the presentation of the gospel found in songs of redemption. Discovering that the glorious God of all creation is also the one who provides us a path to redemption through the sending of his Son (1 John 4:10), makes his sacrifice all the more precious. Now what is left to do but respond in joyful adoration and worship with every part of our being!