Resource

Three creeds adopted by the worldwide church centuries ago summarize the most important tenets of our faith. 

March 2, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Are there any not-so-well-known songs that you’ve used recently? Making room for good songs that aren’t widely used can be an effective way to add theological breadth and musical diversity.

February 26, 2015 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

What did you like about this year’s symposium? What did you not like so much? Any ideas for next year? Please take a moment to contribute.

February 26, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource

What do the walls in your church tell your congregation---particularly the children---about what you value? Use this idea to make your walls another way to tell God's story.

February 23, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

I hope I never hear it again. I hope I never say it again. I hope we can make this phrase totally disappear from the life of our church. You’ve probably heard it…..

February 20, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

Christians like to sing. Among God’s people there are gifted song writers who favored us with the fruit of their hard work. We sing when we have needs and we sing when we have abundance.

February 19, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

Why do most pastors prepare their sermons and most worship leaders prepare their songs, but some of those same individuals choose to wing their prayers?

February 10, 2015 0 7 comments
Blog

If vibrant means giving back to God the life he has ignited in you, then I think it can happen in any type of service, of any style.

February 10, 2015 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

The documents and resources on this page serve to articulate some foundational principles and beliefs for all we do in worship; foundations that transcend style and context. 

February 7, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Looking for ideas as you plan for Pentecost? The Reformed Worship Journal has many, many free resources in the archives on their website. 

January 28, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Song

PraiseCharts and the Christian Song Competition have whittled the field down to 25 songs and voting is open to the public.

January 26, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

To me, God working for the good of his people, is not exactly the same as working for my good. Does the subjectivity of the word "good" cause you any doubt?

January 25, 2015 0 3 comments
Blog

If I had played the recording or had the praise team perform the song, the congregation would not have been a part of it. Without participating, they can not worship

January 7, 2015 0 2 comments
Blog

I was in China during the holiday season, and I saw a marquee that said in English, “Lucky Christmas!” How about us? Do we believe in the coming of Christ because of what God can do for us – bring joy, peace, happiness, love?

December 17, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

The songs we sing at Advent and Christmas have some poignant, powerful truths to teach us.

December 11, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

When congregations gather on holidays so many good things happen.

December 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

When it comes to worship songs, there's an additional aspect that can make it tough to offer your creation for others to use. Can we offer our original songs and other worship creations, and still remain humble?

December 2, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

TJ has cerebral palsy so being confined to his wheelchair limits his physical activities, but with his absolute fervor for life he is not limited in his possibilities to get involved and be connected.

December 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to promoting music that is written for the church body. Can anyone provide guidance on the balance between self-promotion and humility?

December 1, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

When you think of some of your favorite hymns, do you ever wonder what draws you to those hymns in particular? Many of the tunes I love were written by Lowell Mason and William Bradbury.

November 26, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Kevin Twit wrote that the hymns our grandparents sang and loved, are now finding a place in the set list of today's worship leaders and in the hearts of younger Christians. Like anything that makes a comeback they are not reappearing in exactly the same form.

November 21, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

Space may exhilarate and space may dishearten. How does your gathering space speak to those who enter into it?

November 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I’ve been thinking lately about what makes a hymn or worship song last. What makes it enduring and grab people’s hearts and minds over time and even generations?

November 14, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource

Synod 2016 adopted 13 new liturgical forms for use in the churches. Those forms, along with all of the previously approved forms are included in the links below.

November 7, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Anima: The Forum for Worship and the Arts is a project concerned with including our youth and young adults in worship leadership. Training videos available on their website could be used as discussion fodder at worship committee meetings or planning groups.

October 20, 2014 0 1 comments

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Practical idea:

Have the children do some crafts for their father and mother, one that's appropriate for the age group, and have the children hand them out at the end of service or during the announcement time.

  1. Picture frames
    1. messages, "I love you", "you're the best", "God is watching over you and me."
    2. Pictures with hand made frames--foam, cardboard, pasta, etc.
    3. Hand written Bible verses
  2. flowers
    1. pipe-cleaner
    2. drawn and cut
    3. or real flowers

If there are concerns about celebrating Mother's Day "not belonging in worship", then do it outside of service, before or after. Have a breakfast for mothers, mothers-to-be, or women hoping to be mothers. Have a reception after church for simple refreshments like cookies/biscuits and tea/coffee, fresh cut fruits followed by prayer and honoring mothers.

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On Chad's note, his observations are valid, but I disagree on the notion of national holiday celebrations being a "delicate topic," perhaps out of fear that it would distract from God or hurt certain group's feelings as implied in his statement. That's merely an opinion of pastors and worship planners, which I respect yet I disagree. It can be handled with great finesse to glorify God and to not stigmatize groups of people. I would add that it's disappointing to see how churches disconnect culture from church. Culture does not distract from God, unless cultural idolatry becomes the distraction.

We have members who although suffered abuse from their fathers and mothers, they have overcome those suffering. They serve as a wonderful reminder about how the Kingdom of God is manifested here on earth--that the blind can see, that the lame can walk--of which broken hearts are healed and relationships are restored equally glorify God. "Do not really belong in worship" is in my humble opinion an excuse that missed out on the greater glory of God. They can give their testimonies in church about forgiveness and how the healing process has brought them closer to God and restored their relationship with their parents. They are the greatest source of encouragement to others who suffered the same abuses. Those who suffered abuse as children also become mothers and fathers and they could definitely use the encouragement and testimonies.

 

Hymnary.org is developing FlexScores and has many available. Go to this page to check it out: http://www.hymnary.org/flexscores

They also have printable scores for many public domain tunes available in Sibelius, which allows you to change the key. See this example for When I Survey. http://www.hymnary.org/text/when_i_survey_the_wondrous_cross

This one's more guitar-related.  I use Songsheet Generator - http://tenbyten.com/software/songsgen/ - to quickly and easily transpose guitar chord charts.  It's great for those times when you have a second guitarist and want a different "voice" by capoing up, rather than have both guitars sounding the same.  I've used it also for group guitar lessons - it's easy to throw up on the projector, with or without chords.

If you have access to the Songselect website, you can do it within the in browser pdf viewer.
This is also a good way to get songs in a given "Capo Key" for your guitarists!

My question is, "Why is there a view that it is so essential to have a piano that it is a concern to have a service without a piano? Why is piano apparently a 'de facto' instrument that must be present otherwise the music might not go well?"

Your instrument pyramid depends partly on the style of music you are looking to implement. However, on a basic level, you need to focus on filling out the rhythm section first.

(Also, their enthusiasm is fantastic, but I feel like we have a habit of using too many vocalists.)

This is the most vexing question isn't it?  What key is going to work for "regular" singers?   It's true that in the Key of D, the bridge gets too high, and it stays there, fatiguing the voice.  In the Key of B, the lowest note is actually going to be an F-sharp below middle C which is low, but manageable (maybe let your altos carry the verse?).   The bridge is better in this key, but I still think the chorus repeat up the octave is too high for the congregation to maintain.  And in B the first choruses then don't have that "lift" or energy b/c of the lowness.  What about trying it in C, but not doing the octave jump for the final chorus?  Could that work?  Or do we lose the effect and drive after the bridge if we settle into the "regular" chorus range?  Paul Ryan and his team from the LOFT just did this song at a worship conference in Ontario and as someone worshiping in the congregation, I think it worked.  What key was that, Paul?  

Thanks for sharing this! It is a good challenge to many of us.

Thanks for the positive feedback, gentlemen.    Allen Ross book is a gem.  It is a good resource for a sermon or teaching series on worship as he looks at the worship of God's people at various times in their biblical history.

Thanks for the article.  I agree that it is important that we help our people get into a rhythm of celebration throughout the church year for the very reasons Allen Ross suggests.  We live in a world that loves to celebrate all kinds of things; holidays (even from other countries), political markers, national achievements, etc... The church can easily falter and miss opportunities to celebrate together the wonderful gifts of God or make them somehow less important.

Allen

Excellent article; thank you for your thoughtful reflections. We just talked about this in our PM teaching service last Sunday. I'll have to check out that book by Allen Ross; it sounds like it might have some good sermon fodder in there.

There is one small typo in the list, #1: "subordinated" should be "subordinate."

Thanks Len, for your enthusiastic support of the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper. 

Of course, in our survey we did not take a particular position on frequency but we did ask the question. Of the Protestant congregations surveyed 20% celebrate the Lord's Supper each week, 67% once a month, 10% less than once per month, and 3% two to three times a month.

I don't know if those stats confirm your assertion of a movement of including the Lord's Supper every week.Perhaps there are other surveys to which we may compare this data?   

Yes, we definitely long for so much more than what is here.

I don't think one could say it simpler/better than Jon Foreman did in "Meant to Live":

"We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life."

I think that's pretty much it.

It seems to me that since God is the center of worship, and we can't worship God without the help of God the Holy Spirit, we should begin with a prayer, often called the Invocation. 

A good example comes from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, so that we may truly love you
and worthily praise your holy name; through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

My reaction to the survey is a resounding "duh."  Since reformation churches have been experiencing the "centrality of the sermon" for centuries, it's no wonder that the people on the pew think it's the main event. 

The real issue is what we left behind in this historical evolution. What we left behind is the dual foci of word and sacrament that goes all the way back to the New Testament and early church (and was advocated by Calvin himself). 

Today there is a remarkable movement across the board, from Reformed to Pentecostal, of balancing the Word with the Eucharist every Lord's Day. For example, check out the number of CRC and RCA church plants that have instituted weekly Eucharist from the start. If you attend a church that has rediscovered this ancient practice, you will realize that the sermon is enriched, embodied, and affirmed when the congregation gathers at the table to receive Christ in the bread and wine. 

As Dutch theologian Von Alman put it: ending the service without the Supper is like ending a sentence with a colon rather than a period.  Something important and climactic is missing. 

 

Both are biblical, I do find it amusing/interesting that in our tradition of being averse to spiritual experiences to some debatable extent, someone FELT it necessary to change the phrase about how we feel...  curious how that came up...  that would be interesting to know...

This reminds me of a similar hymn that has also been altered in the 1987 crc psalter... Spirit of God Descend UPON My Heart to Spirit of God Dwell Thou WITHIN My Heart...  both versions are biblically correct but speak to 2 different ways the Holy Spirit works...  He dwells WITHIN us as believers and also comes UPON people

for times of special anointing for specific seasons, times of ministry, ie revival.

Another phrase in that song was also changed, from the "baptism of the Heaven descended Dove" to the "fullness of the Heaven descended Dove".  This would be an interesting discussion as well, as it seems there are several understandings of "the baptism of the Spirit" and that is a concept Jesus mentions in Acts 1:5...  for some reason this phrase was changed...  again both are biblical, but I find it interesting as our theology of the Holy Spirit has been somewhat limited historically due to our traditional belief of cessationism.

and verse 2 of the Spirit of God song... i have rewritten that verse to a positive based on Paul's charge to us in I Cor 14:1...  I ask FOR dreams and prophet ecstasies... etc....  AND take the dimness of my soul away.  So if we sing v2 in church or anywhere I sing the positive version.

Maybe you can connect with the folks at Worship Leader - they may have a blog or an opportunity to post the question on their website - www.worshipleader.com. Otherwise I'm not sure how to connect with a large number of churches.  I suppose you could find churches' in various cities that you are interested in, and contact them through their website with 1 or 2 easy questions.

As for my current church - it is more on the traditional side, and there is usually an instrumental prelude before the service starts, then the pastor gives a greeting and we sing the first song or hymn.

In my former church, we had a more blended or convergent style of worship service - and the Praise Team would open the service by leading the congregation in 1-3 songs that would help us center our minds and hearts in an attitude of worship (such as Come, Now Is the Time To Worship, O Worship the King, Here I Am to Worship, etc). Then the pastor would do a greeting from God, the people would greet each other, and more songs of praise and adoration would be sung.

 

Thanks, that sounds like a great book!

I'm working on designing a survey to learn about what a large number of churches are doing.  Any ideas for how to set up such a survey?

Thanks for the posting.  I have sung this song with both lyrics.  I think the overall sentiment of the lyrics are the same.  Preparing us for heaven,  but going about it differently.  the "CRC version" of kingdom work.  Is preparing us for heaven by living gratefully in this kingdom.  Crosby's version of "bliss" is more of a dream that prepares us that puts in the "wonder" of what heaven will be like.  Fanny Crosby was good at that - dreaming of heaven.  Which is a very good thing - that's what we long for.  Isn't it?

The Worship Sourcebook is an excellent guide with a variety of worship elements for any genre of worship.  We typically mix it up according to the mood/tone of the service, as to what/how we start worship.  Sometimes we sing a "gathering song" or we begin with a prayer, or we begin with scripture, call to worship,  etc.  But the overall idea is that we set the tone/mood/theme of the service based on what we use to begin the service.  I'm not in favor of the "johnny Carson" monolog of announcements, etc.  An invitation, yes, but not a monolog of unnecessary announcements of game scores, etc.    

Hey, I just learned that, in fact, MLB does use video review, in a limited capacity.  I wonder whether they'll keep (and inevitably expand) it, or score it as an error and get rid of review.  We'll see.

posted in: Manager or Coach?

I agree, the leader needs to have a pastoral heart.  I guess I would associate that more with a coach than a manager, since a coach is concerned with the development, in many areas, of the person being coached.  Coaching seems to have a personal, caring aspect to it that I don't managing doesn't have quite as much.
 

posted in: Manager or Coach?

I like sports, and I see where you're going with this illustration. I think that both coaching and managing are important, along with leadership, teaching, and mentoring. But maybe the most important skill, or gift that is needed for worship leading is a pastoral heart - both for the worship team members and congregation. Giving of oneself in ministry is demanding and draining, whether playing an instrument, singing, or planning worship. So having a pastoral heart to care for the team is essential in my opinion. And the worship leader also needs to be in tune with the congregation and their needs, since you can't lead if you aren't closely connected.

posted in: Manager or Coach?

For a recent service at Trinity here in Edmonton, we did not have a pianist available, which I don't think has ever happened before. Fortunately, the other instrumentalists booked for that service are all very talented. Our praise teams always work with the pastor to choose the songs for the service.  Between choosing songs that worked for both the instrumentalists (sans pianist) and the theme of the service, everything went off without a hitch thanks to the skills of the guitarists and drummer and God's grace.  It might be an interesting exercise to try it out for once to give the musicians the self-confidence that it can be done if needed.

Ooo, Christy, thanks for your post! As a Praise & Worship Band instructor at our local Christian high school, these questions just ring out as wonderful ones to get my students thinking critically about instrumentation. The development of a pyramid, or other helpful tool to assist leaders in making these tough choices would be a great Independent Study Project. 

For myself, while I have not stopped to formally articulate a set of prioritizing questions/principals, I think that practically I do function with a few. As I poke around a bit to explore what those guiding ideas may be, I am becoming aware that I take a pretty 'big picture' view and then narrow the focus as the bigger questions get answered- kind of like that marble that spins around and around getting closer to the hole each time and then disappears. 

What are we being called to do? Who are we being called to serve? How can our musical offerings be an act of love?...What musicians are available? How do the individual musicians feel called to serve at this time?...(spinning, spinning) What is the theme of the service? Given the theme and the people we are serving, which songs are available?...How familiar is this song to the congregation? What impact will losing the drum have on our ability to lead well? ...(down the hole it goes) Have I/we chosen songs and instrumentation that will allow both leading musicians and congregation members to feel invited and included as they seek to offer a 'pleasing aroma' to their Heavenly Father? 

As one moves through that kind of thinking process, I think we can avoid trying to pop the marble through the hole at the bottom, hoping it will spin its way up the vessel. What do I mean? Well, the practical realities of short timelines and long lists of responsibilities mean that we too often deal with the immediate need first: a list of songs for Sunday morning. And then we work at making those songs happen with whomever we've got. We end up having to choose in the midst of rehearsal whether to go guitar or drums, keyboard or harmony vocal, etc. Rarely fun and often leads to dissatisfaction, or 'settling'. So, when it is possible, after answering the bigger questions, I try to pick my song list based on the instrumental support I know I will have vs. fitting the musicians into the song list. I have found it a much less frustrating process that leaves both musicians and congregation members feeling more supported and freer to engage in meaningful worship.

Good question. I'm not a legal expert by any means, but my thought is that the poster of the video is responsible for the permissions. By creating a playlist, it does not create a duplicate copy of the video or claim ownership of it; it's more a collection of links to the various content that others have posted. I did try to use "official" content as much as possible, although as you noticed, most of it is not. If I'm wrong about this, then I guess I would retract my suggestion, and revise my use of YouTube. I'm interested as well in hearing what others might have to say.

I have to ask about the copyright and legal issues behind this.  Most of the YouTube links you have on your playlist are not from the artists' YT page, they are from fans who create lyric videos, and who do not own the copyright.  While I agree that your suggestion is a great way to get new music to your musicians, the fact that "it's on the internet so it must be ok to use" is a bit of a grey area for me, especially if you are posting on your public church page.  

Is there someone out there who can help shed some light on this?

Thanks, Jolanda.  I'm glad this was meaningful to you.  I was not very happy with how I played in worship on Sunday, but, of course, no one said anything to me.  It got me thinking about this topic, so I decided to focus on it this week.
 

Thank you for this helpful post! A wise pastor once told me that the best time to provide guidance and correction is often not right after the meeting/worship service/event, but right before the next one. That way you provide helpful guidance right at the moment when the person has the opportunity to do it again, but make it more success this time.

Thanks for looking that up, Kevin.

I was referring to this refrain:

"Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, gracious Teacher, Friend divine!  For the home of bliss that waits me, O prepare this heart of mine."

It also had three verses, the original second verse being thus:

"Round the cross where Thou has led me, let my purest feelings twine. With the blood from sin that cleansed me, seal anew this heart of mine."

I never saw anything wrong wih those lyrics, and never thought the altered version quite measured up.

The new hymnal kept the refrain that was in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.  "Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit, gracious Teacher, Friend divine!  For the kingdom work that calls me, O prepare this heart of mine."

Are you refering to this refrain: "Dwell in me, oh, dwell in me; Hear and grant my prayer to Thee; Spirit, now from Heav'n descending, Come, oh, come and dwell in me."

The "problem" or "licence" that is with this particular song is that it is Public Domain, so any church/organization, can rephrase, etc. any part of the song as they see theologicaly fit.  So, I'm sure there is a theological reason as to choosing/keeping the lyrics.

Any Public Domain (P.D.) song is under liberty to be altered or changed as one sees fit.  So the idea that the lyrics have changed is that there was a theological issue vs. an artistic liberty.  That's my educated guess from being on the advisory committee.

Kevein, do you know whether "Dwell in Me, O Blessed Spirit" has had its original refrain restored in the new hymnal?

I may be wrong but I believe in a rapture and that it will be public and final as opposed to one that is secret, which we hear taught more often.

Kevin, welcome back!  I did not know any details of the new Psalter, but that sounds like great news.  I hope "Jesus, With Thy Church Abide" has been restored to its original state.

The "Lift Up Your Hearts" hymnal has gone back to the original text and has included "rapture" in the second verse of "Blessed Assurance". It is also has an * with an explanation at the bottom as a "sense of glory, ecstatic joy. So the CRCNA has re-introduced the word "rapture" in its lyrical repertoire, we just need to realize that. They have also have included "ebenezer" in the "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with another explanation at the bottom as well. Many of the songs have gone back to the "original text" that we know from the evangelical community.

Oh, memories! When I was a teen, Larry Norman was the only thing resembling rock and roll that was permitted in the house. But beforehand I got an explanation from my Dad and an Elder about how the Rapture was wrong. Sort of like a Theological antidote pre potential poisoning.
Since then, I've come to subscribe to the possibility presented I think by Walsh and Middleton in "The Transforming Vision" that maybe, if there is to be disappearing going on, the ones left on earth will be there to build the Kingdom. But then, I like turning existing assumptions on their heads.
So, when Larry Norman came to Ontario Canada in the early 2000s (I think) I took one of my teen sons (who was too much into rap for my liking - a lingering Grand Rapids influence) to see his concert. I got to talk with him (he was like 63 years old), and asked him specifically about the song Ron mentions. Larry said that if you read the words carefully he wrote it with no clear indication of who was going where, only that a 'leaving' had occurred.

Henry, I'm glad this post was helpful to you.  When our pastor gave his sermon on why we worship, it was enlightening for me.

I agree, Jesus was a fully-human baby and crying is not a sin.  We know he cried later in life, so why not as a baby?

Larry Norman's 1972 album "Only Visiting this Planet" was an album that was highly rated by secular and Christian music stations & magazines. He was eventually inducted to Gospel Music Hall of Fame and honoured posthumously at the Grammy Awards in 2009. As a young teenager, I listened to the album frequently (still have a copy somewhere) and the lyrics of the one track definitely provoked thought... at that time. Now, I just think it's a great song.

Excerpts from Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready":
A man and wife asleep in bed, she hears a noise and turns her head he's gone
I wish we'd all been ready
Two men walking up a hill, one disappears and one's left standing still
I wish we'd all been ready

There's no time to change your mind, how could you have been so blind
the father spoke, the demons dined, the Son has come and you've been left behind

Your article helps me understand why discussions regarding and planning of music for a worship service so often come with tension and difficulty. If our attempts at God-glorifying music are so full of tension and failings, why do we plan and stumble? Why not just always let music happen? What you have written has helped me sort out that it is so important to put effort and intention in our music, because it is this effort and intention inherent in music that is at the very foundation of our desire and attempt to see the perfect glory of our great God! With this in mind, it is easier for me to see why God wants and even commands us to worship Him in song.

I've always interpreted the use of the word in hymns in the sense that Bill lays out, the idea of "rapturous delight" and not speaking about an end times event.  But it dovetails with the whole question of theology in song.  I for one cringe a little when I sing at Christmas "the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes."  Why shouldn't he cry?

From etymon.com:
rapture (n.) 
c.1600, "act of carrying off," from Middle French rapture, from Medieval
Latin raptura "seizure, rape, kidnapping," from Latin raptus "a carrying off, abduction, snatching away; rape" (see rapt). Earliest attested use in English is of women and in 17c. it sometimes meant rape (v.), which word is a cognate of this. Sense of "spiritual ecstasy, state of mental transport" first recorded c.1600 (raptures).
The word is about 350 years older than John nelson Darby's invention of dispensational eschatology. 

In response to your question, Bert, if a song is in the public domain, as Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus is, you may write new stanzas, print them, sing them for worship or whatever use is appropriate. It's only when the hymn or song is still under copyright that you need to be careful. 

I have been listening to a lot of messianic music lately (look up chavah messianic radio if interested), and a lot of it is straight scripture, especially Paul Wilbur's songs...    here's just a taste  =)

 

in this song, the Shema by Paul Wilbur (Deut 6:4), you can even learn the Shema in Hebrew =)  but most of the song is in English...

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXYB9F8Yxvk ;

 

Medley: Let God Arise (Psalm 68:1-3)/ It is Good (Psalm 92:1-5,12-13; / Roni Roni (Zeph 3:14);  again performed by Paul Wilbur

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrCal6kE-r4

 

We have a prayer group, coming together once a month in prayer support fore our sidewalk counselors at the abortion clinic.Typical we write a responsive reading and sing a song. As an example we may sing "Stand up, stand up for Jesus"

Often we add an extra song just created to fit the occasion. Normally the extra is just used at that time among our group. But whould it be permissable to use it during a church service?

 

I hear you on all of these points, Rebecca. It does take time, and correct licensing is a big deal - to the point of being a burden on many church staffs. We will be doing a webinar on Copyrights and Worship on Feb. 26 at noon - the goal is to give  practical information and helps for those in the church and allow for questions. (sign ups currently taken through the Network or the hymnal website - www.liftupyourheartshymnal.org. )

RE: Copyright for new hymnals (Diane)

I am loving planning worship using the new Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal, but ensuring correct licensing is BIG. DEAL. As in, taking a lot of time to make sure we are doing it right. But I LOVE this hymnal, it's terrific.

RE: Why change lyrics?

Sometimes contemporary and popular worship songs do not reflect reformed theology. All our songs go through a review before we add them to our song list. In some cases, we have chosen just to simply not sing a particular verse of a song if it's questionable. (I know of one song we do this for, and if I can just remember the name of it, I'll post it as an example.)

An example from the news recently was when a church (PCUSA, I *think*) opted not to include the popular hymn, "In Christ Alone" in their new hymnal because they wanted to change the words "Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied" to "Till on that cross as Jesus died, the love of God was magnified" and the copyright holder declined to approve the change.

Just one more note about changing the words, calling it a derivative work, and claiming the copyright for yourself. They will not let you do that today- I realize that it was done in the past. But in today's world of copyrights and permissions - publishers and most individuals won't allow another person to hold the copyright for a change or addition to their original work. For example, if you wrote another verse to a hymn that fit really well - and you sent it to the copyright holder  for their permission to use it, they might say that they like it and 'thank you very much, we will let it be a part of our hymn, but we will now own the copyright for the new verse, too".   Sometimes for older (still copyrighted) hymn texts publishers or authors will allow you to do that. Probably more often they will not. But for any contemporary music, absolutely no changes are allowed - no word changes, no additional verses or choruses, no new words to contemporary tunes, etc.

I only know these things because I just obtained all of the copyrights and permissions for the most recent two hymnals that the CRC (Faith Alive) published - Psalms for All Seasons, and Lift Up Your Hearts. Trust me, we tried to do several things that were definitely turned down. And we added some great new verses to hymns but the original copyright holder now owns the copyright to them.

The only way to take freedom with lyrics or tunes is to work with public domain material - then you have real creative freedom and if you write something new you do retain the copyright.

I hope this makes sense. I'd hate for someone to work on something and think they would be able to claim the copyright ownership and then be disappointed.

 

Diane,

Thank you for adding your clarifications.  You're absolutely right that performance and reproduction rights are distinct.  I should have read the statute more carefully.  So, as you said, we are free to sing/play songs without permission, but to display or copy the music/lyrics we are obligated to secure a license (I do have some reservations about the practice of liscensing, but I'll save those for a possible future blog post).

I still don't think changing the lyrics is a big deal.  If you were trying to get other churches to sing your alternate lyrics, and then ultimately you wanted to get credit/royalties for the changes, that would be a clear derivative-work situation.  But what Rebecca is talking about isn't quite so serious (again, just my opinion).

Perhaps the bigger question is why you would want to change the lyrics at all.  If you like the song, is there a compelling reason not to sing it as published?  For my part, I often find updated lyrics in the Psalter to be unneeded and less appealling.  So I prefer to use the older forms (I like to think of them as the "original" lyrics, but that's not always true).  However, in such cases, we would still be using a published version of the lyrics, not something we came up with ourselves.  If there are a few lines/words you just really don't want to sing, I guess you probably shouldn't use that song.

Thanks to all for taking the time to contribute to these forums.

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