Friday, December 12, 2008

worship confessional (12.07.08)

second weekend of the advent season... I'm probably as excited about the worship sets this Christmas season as I've been in the 9+ years (this is actually the 10th Christmas) I've been leading worship here at MSC. It's kinda funny 'cause I have this odd reputation of hating Christmas music, which couldn't be further from the truth. The thing is, I feel like my job is to help facilitate an atmosphere of authentic communication with our Creator during the first 20 minutes or so of our services. Too often, people long to sing Christmas music for the wrong reasons... to satiate the desire for that warm, fuzzy feeling they get when they sing them, to hold on to memories of childhood and/or fond years past, or even just because they really, really like 'em. I actually LOVE Christmas music for those same reasons... but the truth is, none of those accomplish the objective for which we show up in a worship service: to communicate with our Creator in worship.

This year, I've embraced the idea of interjecting the wonderful Christmas hymns of our faith into compelling worship sets in a way that doesn't compromise the objective of our time together. I think (I sure hope) that people have felt that we've been successful at doing that. We continued what has been our m.o. this year with Christmas sets by inserting a small piece of 'We Three Kings' into the middle of the set... just the 'Star of Wonder' piece. Here's how the setlist looked:

Beautiful One - (Tim Hughes)
Indescribable - (Laura Story)
('Star of Wonder' tag)
Break Through - Tommy Walker
O Come O Come Emmanuel

feature tune: Surrender - Marc James
(w/ chorus of trad. hymn 'I Surrender All')

The set felt really good to me this week. Again, transitions were key, and we really never stopped at all between any of the songs. The trickiest was the transition between the 'Star of Wonder' tag and 'Break Through' as I had to switch from capo 1 / cut capo 3 to open strings, removing both capos... the other instrumentalists walked from the F to an F/A, Bb then landed on C, which is where I started 'Break Through.'

We served communion this weekend, during which we sang a 'Surrender' medley, if you will. Starting with the Marc James tune from Vineyard, we pressed through to a couple big choruses at the end and then the bottom dropped out, leaving only a guitar, piano and Beth, one of our vocalists, taking over with the chorus of 'I Surrender All.' Then I played the melody on the acoustic a few times through, accompanied by the piano, before we began building up to the end of the service. 'I Surrender All' was reprised first, several times, and then we launched back into a full-blown chorus or two of the Marc James tune before our Pastor gave the blessing.

Equally as excited about this weekend, can't wait to tell you how it went...

this post is also a part of Sunday Setlists


Jules said...

Surrender was amazing! Great job on it and Beth has just a beautiful, young, pure voice. It was perfectly suited.

Marina Berryman said...

Mark, I'm glad I finally got around to reading this! I struggle with Christmas music for the same reason. It just seems so tacked on to the worship time for all the wrong reasons. Makes it worse for me because I'm not a terribly sentimental person. Thank you for giving me a solution to our Christmas worship time next year. I love the idea of combining songs. That will definitely work for us.