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We have for some years made a point of including children and teens in our worship teams, whether as instrumentalists or singers, or in technical roles (sound, projection, etc). For younger children (below teenage years) we have no requirement of musical ability or aptitude. Any children who want to participate can. This means that sometimes we turn their microphones off or way down - they are aware we do this, and it gives them freedom and safety to express themselves in worship without worrying about what they sound like. As they get a little older, we try to give a level of training (though I wish we were equipped to do more), and for those with emerging stronger voices, we may give some brief or longer solo opportunities - worship is not necessarily served by having the "best" voice.

I try as worship leader to talk about what we're singing. Sometimes the words may not make sense to a younger singer, and so we'll talk briefly about it to help them. At other times it is the younger singers who are rekindling the excitement of worship in older singers and instrumentalists by their dancing, or facial expressions (though they can look pretty glum at times too!). I also try to encourage the adults to learn from the kids in this physical expression.

For instrumentalists, we again don't set high standards, other than ensuring that some level of contribution can be made so that the participant can gain an understanding of worship while growing their technical skills - so they need to have reached an intermediate level of ability. We've had drummers (especially), guitarists, and other "solo" instruments (flute, violin, etc) although have found that the solo instruments are difficult unless we're able to write specific parts for them, which is quite time-consuming and not every leader has the musical ability to  do it.

Lastly, most of our readings, prayers, and other liturgical elements are led by Praise Team members, and so we have opportunities to engage kids of all ages in these. We'll offer coaching on reading, as well as help with understanding of what is being read.

In summary, our kids are active and very valuable members of our worship teams and we're tremendously blessed by them, and they also by their participation in worship. I'm convinced that this will bear fruit as they grow into adulthood.

This is really useful information, Gayla. I can't count the number of times that I have run into people who are not only oblivious to the copyright issues with regards to LUYH, but also with copyright information in general: praise team leaders who simply download chordsheets from random pages on the Internet without even considering whether their download is covered by CCLI, or any other licensing for that matter, for example.

Unfortunately, once you dive into the copyright question things get murky and difficult once you get even a little beyond what you've covered here:

  1. Costs jump pretty quickly. If you want to have SongSelect + CCLI, so you can make the most of your copyright coverage, and even if you're a small church, it can cost $300.00/year+. Add in to that for another $100.00/year, and another $189.00/yr for LicenSing, and you're looking at almost $600.00/yr for a relatively small church--just to cover your bases, and you STILL need to be vigilant about copyright on your songs!
  2. CCLI, and the others you've listed also do not cover the showing of Videos! In the US, CCLI does have an additional Church Video Licensing option (CVLI), which can run another $220.00/yr. In Canada it's far more complicated, as you have to find the organizations that hold the licensing agreements for different films and the are four or five different major ones you have to search out, there's no annual fee, but a per-use fee, and it varies widely, and even then you aren't covered!
  3. Additional media like podcasts are covered separately, and may require an additional fee.
  4. Photos are not covered by this, and many, many, many churches don't even bother to look at copyright for them, but just swipe them from Google(TM) whenever they like!

If you, as a church, wanted to be really scrupulous about all of this (which we should, after all), you could either be stuck not using anything, for fear of breaking copyright, or spending more than $1000.00/yr for even a small church, not to mention all the work researching the whole thing--it's a real pain in the rear, and heartbreakingly complex most of the time!


Hi Paige,

Copyright and permissions with regard to worship are restrictive only when reproducing the material - either by photocopying, projecting, etc. The religious exemption for worship permits songs to be sung, played, or taught orally to a congregation without copyright infringement if there is no reproduction involved. In other words, if you want to sing a song (religious or secular) as part of a worship service, it can be sung without copyright infringement. You may play and improvise without worry if no copying or reproducing of the music is involved. If, however, you project the words (or music) while it is sung; or if you copy the music for your musicians, etc, you will need either permission or a copyright license to cover the reproducing  of the lyrics.

As to the issue of changing the lyrics when singing a copyrighted song during worship - I would just ask whether that seems honest and ethical. If the text is copyrighted, it is 'intellectual property' that is legally owned by someone.There seems to be a responsibility on the part of the performer to either honor the original text written by the author, or go to that author and ask permission to change it.

ASCAP is a performance license, and if Christian music is performed outside of a worship service - in a live concert or community gathering - the copyrighted material needs to be covered by ASCAP. But for music that is sung in a worship service, ASCAP (performance) licensing does not apply.

This is my understanding of this issue with regards to worship. You are more than welcome to do your own study and research. Thanks for asking the copyright question.


Hi Rebecca, I am new to this website and happened upon it by searching the topic of "Does it violate copyright when changing the lyrics of a song?".  

I read through the comments posted on this topic and most if not all pertained to hymnal or contemporary Christian music.

In my circumstance, one of our musicians would like to take a secular song and change words and phrases to make it appropriate for church. My thought , especially after reading this blog, is that it would be a violation without getting permission.  My musician emailed me the following:

 Take a look at this:

Go to the 2nd question under the Frequently Asked Questions section.  (What is a public performance?)

I would think that we (a church) are OK as an exemption.  It doesn’t really get into anything about if the music is altered.  But technically we alter everything we do (we improvise a lot), so I wonder if we could be “written up” since we don’t play things exactly as written?  I would think we can play anything we want any way we want – as long as we are not selling it for profit.  (Now I would think if we recorded stuff we would need permission to sell it even if just raising money for a church.)

What is a public performance?

A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television, and by the internet. Generally, those who publicly perform music obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative. However, there are a few limited exceptions, (called "exemptions") to this rule. Permission is not required for music played or sung as part of a worship service unless that service is transmitted beyond where it takes place (for example, a radio or television broadcast). Performances as part of face to face teaching activity at a non-profit educational institutions are also exempt. We recommend that you contact your local ASCAP representative who can discuss your needs and how ASCAP can help you.


Can you help me with this situation?

Thanks for the song ideas, Kevin.

I, too, am trying to sing each prayer song for a month so the congregation really learns it.
And, yes, it is always surprising how cyclical tastes are.

posted in: Prayer Songs

Hi Christy,  I grew up in my rural church singing that very song after a silent prayer time at the beginning of the service.  We have prayer requests in the evening and we have the tradition of singing a song either before or after or both.  We like to keep a song for a season (such as Advent or Lent) or about a month during the Ordinary times.  This way the congregation really gets to know the song.  Song additions to your list:  

  • O Lord, Hear My Prayer (SNC 203, LUYH 903)
  • The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation (LUYH 885, SNC 206)
  • Come Now, O Prince of Peace (LUYH 905, SNC 209)

It is amazing what is "old" is now "new" again.

posted in: Prayer Songs

I've just past this post on to our Worship Director. Twice a month we have a special time of Intercessory Prayer and I think this could be very powerful. Especially if done with only a piano or a couple of guitars. Thank you for the idea!

posted in: Prayer Songs

Thanks for sharing this idea, Drew. I love that you include both public and Christian students and that you also include teachers and administrators. It sounds like a very powerful intergenerational moment in the life of your congregation and I imagine that everyone---those who were prayed for and those who prayed for them---are blessed by the experience.

Wow, Kory. I have never heard of Kindergarteners being acknowledged and blessed before school begins. Providing those little ones with such a tangible expression of the love surrounding them from their Covenant family is beautiful. Draping those those quilts over the baptismal font is such powerful reminder of how we are called to live out those baptismal promises. Thanks for sharing!

On the Sunday evening before Labor Day weekend, we hold a special worship service that's focused on praying for students, teachers/staff, and parents as they prepare for "Back to School."  We've done this for the past several years.  The congregation is given a list of all the students as well as teachers who are members of our congregation.  They are also given the names of the administrators of the local schools (Christian and public).  Last year we had a small enough group where the group that was being prayed for sat in an inner circle and the rest of us sat in an outer circle and offered prayers for each group.  Before the prayer time, each group was given an opportunity to share specific prayer requests.  Our group was a little bigger this year so we had the group that was being prayed for sit in chairs up front and share prayer requests.  I led the prayer and then allowed time for others to offer prayers.  Since it was an evening worship, the number of parents and younger students was quite low and the overall attendance was about 1/4 of the congregation.  I'd love to do a similar format where more of the congregation could be present.  It's a powerful time and each year, students, parents and teachers as well as congregation members comment on how much of a blessing the evening was for them.

Long time ago Someone wrote that a congregation should be measured by the songs they sing, not the statement of faith. If that is true then most congregations are vacation bible school mentality at best.

Also, "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" (BPsH #388) is in neither the GPsH nor LUYH.

I grew up singing the Doxology at the end of worship, and it still feels right there, although today I think I would move it around in the service (beginning, middle, and end) to keep it fresh and to keep it from seeming routine. My favorite memories of singing Praise God from whom all blessings flow.... are at the end of meals at extended family gatherings. The acapella, traditional 4 part harmony combined with these words of praise to the triune God seemed to lift us a little closer to heaven. The doxology is wonderful with full-blown instruments. But if you're in a setting where a good share of the people know it, I'd encourage singing with the just instruments God has placed within us - our voices!

Thanks! I already had a couple of those on my radar, but not "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross." Haven't sung that in ages... I'll see if I can fix that... ~Stanley

I attended a meeting recently and we closed with the doxology, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow. I have attended several meetings (including classes) where we've done the same.  It's difficult for me to even express the powerful presence of God at that moment!  I love the thought of opening and ending a worship service/meeting with praise. I've participated in services where it is offered in the beginning, middle and ending.  It puts the focus on God and not so much on us and what we will do. Of course, a combination of doxology and sending forth closings might be the best option.


Great discussion!

I, too, have found LUYH to be a really good hymnal.  There are a few choices (in song selection and lyrics) that I don't totally understand, but overall it's very good.  I agree, those Twila Paris songs are great.

Some of my favorites from the old hymnals that didn't make the cut:

"Faith of Our Fathers" - BPsH #443 (please, don't let's start a debate on gender issues; I just like the song, that's all)

"Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross" - BPsH #354

"Change My Heart, Oh God" - SNC #56

"Living For Jesus" - Inspiring Hymns #354 (yes, it's in the GPsH, but I can't abide the word changes)

"Jesus, with Thy Church Abide" - BPsH #426 (see comment above)

"Oh God, Be Merciful to Me" - BPsH #105 (the tune is "Sweet Hour of Prayer")

"Out of My Bondage, Sorrow, and Night" - BPsH #428

"Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken" - BPsH #456

Okay, I'll stop.  I realize you were asking for songs from the GPsH and Sing!  But these songs are ones I sang a lot growing up, and I still like singing them.

Amen, Karen! And a big WOW! on those quilts, Kory! However we do it, I agree that this is a good opportunity to pray together for our kids (big and small) and our educators. The editors for Lift Up Your Hearts also thought of marking this moment in worship, and included #274 - a song that says "In all our learning, give us grace to bow ourselves before your face..." (verse 2), along with a spoken prayer for teachers and learners. I also love the simple chorus-like feel of #129 - a song that young and old could sing together with simple percussion, repeating the phrase "We will follow, we will follow Jesus....through the the the our our calling.

Our church has a beautiful tradition of giving all students beginning their Kindergarten year a quilt handmade by some of the ladies in the church. Their name is sewed at the top, the congregation signs a panel on the back. At the beginning of the service the Sunday before school begins (this past Sunday) the quilts are draped over the baptismal font. As each child comes forward, I wrap the quilt around their shoulders, remind them of the promises made at their baptism and encourage them to think of their Covenant family giving them a hug every time they wrap themselves in the quilt. This year was my first time being a part of this and it was truly a wonderful moment.

I like your last question. I wonder if the story I cite of Mary and Martha suggests a difference between service and worship with both understood as sacred.   

With regard to distinguishing religion from worship.... maybe that's where the confusion is.  So let me try to answer my own question (I'm not sure about the pay-grade...)  All of life is religious, because it reflects your faith values.   All of life reflects who your God really is, and how important you think your God is.  Or whether you are trying to serve more than one god.  The atheist or christian who serves himself, the fan who adores his hockey team, the father who serves his work:  how have these things been placed in life relative to God who puts his claim on us.  If you worship God daily, that becomes part of your religion.  If you worship God only on Easter sunday, that is a reflection of your religion.  The way you do your work, and the type of work you do, reflects your relationship to God, and in that sense is part of your religion.  If you say that God has no place in your bedroom, or your office, or your tractor-trailer unit, then that is part of your religion, even if it is not worship.  And perhaps serving God, and worshipping God are not necessarily the same thing?

Good to "hear" from you, Joyce.  You caught me. I prefer a narrow definition of worship. The primary reason is that I have not find adequate answers to the questions stated in my blog. As a result, I am not sure that scripture supports the more commonplace and broad view of worship. 

Your questions regarding lament and confession lead us down a different road.  Suffice to say at this time, I think it may be advantageous to take a broad view of the Sunday service or liturgy by suggesting that it includes more than worship. Perhaps it is helpful to affirm that the Sunday service includes many types of prayers, including, but not limited to praise, lament, confession.  As you will readily discern, such an approach was normative in our circles before the 1970s. I wonder if it may be helpful to revisit it?

So - a narrow view of worship and a broad view of the Sunday service!  Thanks for helping me clarify that! 


John,  your suppositions seem right on to me.  As for your last two questions - the answers to those are above my pay grade! :)

Sam, you never cease to be provocative in all the right ways. If we take your definition of worship as "worship as declaring the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" then I imagine it is possible to be in a worship service and not be worshiping because you are going over in your head the plans you have for Sunday dinner even as your voice sings "How great is our God".  It may also be possible to "declare the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" in our work whenever we see God's activity and acknowledge it.  I think that's helpful.  But then I lament not worship then? confession? or are those expressions of our relationship with God but not worship per se? Is this a matter of how narrow or expansive our definition of worship is? 

[ wúrship ]

1. treat somebody or something as deity: to treat somebody or something as divine and show respect by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion
2. take part in religious service: to take part in a religious service
3. love somebody deeply: to love, admire, or respect somebody or something greatly and perhaps excessively or unquestioningly

It would seem that you could take part in a worship service without actually worshipping God (due to inattention, lack of devotion, lack of faith, etc.).    Or you could you could worship God while driving your car, cutting your grass or washing your dishes.

Some people call the team that leads the singing in church the worship team.  So they consider only active adoration to be worship, I suppose.  Even listening to sermons might not be worship if it is done only to learn or to evaluate...  rather than to honor God. 

What is the difference between worship and religion?   All of life is religious? 


yes, thank you!

Surely.  Thanks for the opportunity clarify.  If all of life is worship, then everything we do is worship.  Hence, worship becomes indistinguishable from every other action; worship gets lost in our actions.  It is no longer an identifiable action. Does that help?    

Could you expand a bit on point #6? Are you saying that life is ubiquitous and meaningless? I don't remember learning that in my catechism classes ;-)

We sometimes sing a doxology at the end of the service but not very often. I really miss closing the service with praise to God. Last week we sang "The New Doxology" which is based on the traditional one "Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow," What a way to end the service. Yes, I wish we sang a doxology every week or at least more often.

As the prayer ministry leader, I lead our Prayer Services and we always end with the Doxology. After brining our praise and petitions to God, it is only fitting that we praise the One who hears and answers us.

What I like about "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow" and other such simple, one stanza, often trinitarian doxologies is that they seem to be a fitting response - both to a just pronounced blessing on the people (benediction) and to the whole of the worship we just participated in.  Our services generally end, after the sermon, with a song of response (maybe some words of sending or response), God's blessing/benediction, and a doxology.  Sometimes churches want to put a "marching orders" song as the very last song, telling God and each other what we will do.  I prefer God's blessing and our praise (doxology) as an ending to help us remember it's all in God's hands, ultimately.  Song of response after the sermon is a great place for us to declare our commitments, to sing our "marching orders," and so forth.  Of course, with so many different doxologies to choose from, we don't have to be limited to "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Great ideas, Christy!  When I was young, our family used to sing songs from the hymn book for a half hour or so after the supper meal on Sunday night.  Everyone got to pick one or two favorites, and we started to learn harmony in acapella.  Now with our own family we usually follow the practice of singing a couple songs or more after every supper meal, some acapella, and some with piano accompaniment.  Guests get to pick a favorite and they usually enjoy it as well.  We do this after reading a piece of scripture.  The songs include hymns, praise songs, spirituals, or whatever we like that honors God.  

When I was working as a youth director at Hope Reformed Church (RCA) in Clifton, NJ we always sang the doxology after the offering as the plates were brought forward after the money was collected. I always thought it was a nice reminder that it was God from whom all blessings flow--including financial blessings. It's been 7 years since I've attended there, but last I knew the doxology still held that place in the worship service. 

Some churches start each service with the doxology.  and why not?  Give God the praise at the beginning and at the end, and in between!  Let the angels rejoice with the one sinner who repents!  Let Jesus smile on his holy children!  Let the words of our mouth praise his Name!

That's true, Chad; doxology doesn't have to be a concluding song.  But for the purposes of this post, I was using that way to discuss the tradition of ending with the same hymn/song every week.  That tradition used to be ubiquitous in Protestant churches, but I think it's not as prevalent anymore.

For whatever reason - perhaps because of its most common placement in the service - I operated under the misconception that "doxology" meant "the last song in the service." As a child, I remember singing the doxologies mentioned in this post, always at the end of the service, too.

Truth is, "doxology" means "song of praise" and can be used at any point in the service. It is often Trinitarian in form and the last stanza of many hymns are doxologies (Come Thou Almighty King, Holy God We Praise Your Name, and Now Thank We All Our God are a few of my favorite examples of this). We have regularly concluded our offering - which took place in the middle of the service - with a doxology, and varied which doxology was sung depending on the Sunday within the Church Year. 

Our church is accustomed to singing something after the benediction (if not just before as well), so it bodes well for us to use a doxology at the end of the service. If the hymn before the benediction includes a final doxological (if that's even a word) stanza, we'll sing the 2 or 3 opening stanzas prior to the benediction and the doxological stanza following. Then we'd "go in peace to love and serve the Lord." 

In any case, I wouldn't include a doxology (or THE doxology) just to do it. It must be placed with purpose and intentionality - which is another reason why I like it as a conclusion to the offering.

Diane, that sounds awesome. I think we might have a copy of that book somewhere at church; I'll have to take a look at it.

Thanks for the post - I like the last two and am encouraged by it to go to those first - prayer, and delegating. Both represent a healthy ministry response, knowing our need for the Lord and our need for others. In addition, delegating is a great way to empower others and multiply ministry.

I prefer Dutch Reformed theology but not our "wing it" liturgy. With the old Lutheran, Episcopal, even Catholic liturgies the very words have been vetted for 100 or more years. I know what the words and the thoughts behind them mean. Having a new prayer or responsive whatever each Sunday I don't say the words because the meanings are theologically fuzzy. This past Sunday AM the congregation was to say a prayer which, to me, was semi-Pelagian. I was to ask God for assistance in my life so that I may have quid pro quo "pie in the sky, by and by."    

Great ideas, Christy. Have you seen Psalms for All Seasons? All of the Psalms are printed there along with songs, hymns or choruses that go with each Psalm. We love to use it in our home with family worship, in the home of someone who is too ill to go to church, or devotionally with my grandchildren. (They love to take turns being the 'leader' and reading the regularly printed text while the rest of us read the bold print.) There is also a simple prayer at the end of each Psalm that can be read by young or old. It's a great way to read the Psalms together.

I am going ahead and changing my chord sheets for this song to "love of God was magnified" as we speak

I always change the lyrics when I come across bad theology in praise music (constantly) and hymns (occasionally). The rapture is bad theology and the act of a band leader letting it be articulated misses the chance to educate the congregation.

We open with a non-church song that relates to that week's theme so that any and everyone coming into the hall can feel welcomed and relate (part of the Double Ramp Model that we utilize)


Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies is reformed/Calvinistic in its approach. Also, several Christian Colleges and universities have worship/music "schools".



Thanks for the report on Bethel and for the question. I would need to research the schools at a deeper level to get a handle on both their doctrinal statements and their worldviews. My hunch is that the church based ones lean towards the Pentecostal-Charismatic wing of American Evangelicalism. The 10,000 Fathers Worship School,however, resonates with both my Reformed soteriology and my worldview. One example is its founder's song "Sovereign Over Us" -   

But if you know of other schools, please let me know.  




Hi Sam,

Thank you for making us aware of these schools that are devoted to worship training.  I'm curious: are any of the schools of worship you mentioned "Reformed" in their doctrine and worldview?  For what it's worth, two of my wife's nephews have studied at the Bethel School of Worship in CA, and really enjoyed it. 

Peace to you!





Thank you for this reflection Mike. I wish there was more intentionality about teaching a congregation to treat repetition as an opportunity for reflection and for broadening the words in our hearts into prayer, or to make the connections between what we are singing and our day to day life. This is more possible as you repeat a song because you already know the words and so your heart can soar from them. However, if this isn't introduced as a possibility or an aim of repetition, I'm not sure people know what to do with that time. Then repetition can feel tedious. It's a discipline to focus in that way.

Sometimes the song doesn't lend itself to repetition. For example: Lord I Lift Your Name on High. The song tells the story of salvation...He has left the cross, the grave and gone to heaven. When this song is repeated, it seems like a let down to me to start over back to the grave.

Some songs just don't have enough musicality or message to bear repeating, especially if the repetition goes on and on.....


There are a number of possible reasons a person will complain about repetition. Here's some thoughts, FWIW:

1) If they complained about repetition, they were already unengaged in worship before the repetition occurred.

2) If they complained about repetition, they likely also think the service is too long.

3) If repetition bothered them, they are likely looking for theological content instead of/at the expense of meditating and experiencing what the words mean for them today. This is ok to a point. The question is whether the worship leaders can lead the community into meditating when the repetition will occur. The thinkers will likely come along then.

4) If people are complaining about repetition, are the worship leaders making the repetition eventful. No musician/composer repeats just for the sake of repeating. The repetition must have a purpose, an effect. What effect is a given repetition meant to create in a worship service? Obviously this depends on the song, but if the musicians don't know what effect the repetitions are meant to have and only do the repeats because the music says so, there's a worship leadership problem that needs attending to. 

Make repeats eventful!

CCLI/song select has a place where you can change each song into any key, up or down, plus and minus an octave or more...  I use it ALL the time...  I also just found out how to print out the music from CCLI in a smaller format, so that the vocal printout version of songs is only 1-4 pages instead of 3-6 (normal print)... I love this because otherwise I'm turning pages all the time...

Hi Steve,

This is true, but the end result often creates a stronger, richer church community. We've found people are surprised at how simple steps toward inclusion can make a significant difference. I hope you find those resources helpful! 




Thank you for your response and suggestions. I will check out the resources you mentioned. New situations like this require people to step out of their comfort zone. This includes existing members as well as the new people attending.