Worship in the Modern World

Praising God with the Best of the Past and the Present

What Makes a Good Worship Song? Part 1

Finding songs for worship is easy. There’s no shortage of options in every style and genre and there are new ones constantly coming onto the scene. Finding good songs, however, is a challenge. There are many aspects to look at when it comes to selecting the right songs and through a series of posts, we’ll look at some of the things that make a good worship song.

First up: The Technical Aspects of the Song

These are the easiest to look at because they’re the most objective. Here’s some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the range of the melody in a congregation friendly range? Congregations can comfortably sing within a range of B flat below middle C to the D a tenth above that.  You can possibly push it a step or two beyond those boundaries briefly, but some will find it difficult or impossible to reach.
  • Where does the bulk of the melody fall within that range? The technical term for this is the tessitura.  If the song fits neatly within the range, but 90% of the melody is at either end of the spectrum, the congregation is going to have problems. Everyone will leave that day hoarse and unable to speak from fatigue.
  • How complicated is the rhythm? In most worship songs, the balance between rhythm, melody and harmony work like a pie chart. The more complex or larger one piece is, the easier or smaller the others are. Complex rhythms and lots of syncopation can be a stumbling block, but singing everything with a straight quarter note beat is monotonous. Look for the balance between the two extremes that fits your demographic. The younger your demographic, the more you can push the boundary to the complex side because they grew up with more complicated music and are quicker at picking it up.
  • What’s the form of the song? While not as critical as the other aspects, it bears noting that the simpler the form of the song (the verse-chorus-bridge structure) the easier it will be for people to remember it. It’s important to keep in mind since most churches using modern worship songs don’t use hymnals or printed copies of the songs.

Up next: Considering the Music

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