Choosing what we sing in Church: Choosing Songs – planning (Part 6 of 9)

By David Shead

The song choosing process

It’s time to actually choose the songs! How do we go about doing it? It involves planning, preparation and order.

Let’s look at planning.

Planning – How far in advance? (Finding the “sweet spot”)

The most basic practical question to ask, as you sit down to choose, is: how many weeks am I choosing for today?

We can often slip into the pattern of choosing songs week-by-week (I certainly have!). There are a number of disadvantages to this pattern, and almost no advantages. The disadvantages include:

  • It makes it difficult for gathering leaders, data projectionists, etc., to prepare
  • It makes it difficult to ensure a healthy diet of singing, because you’re not taking the big view
  • You find yourself “burning” a song by using it this week, when it would have been perfect for three weeks’ time
  • You find you’ve got half way through a year without learning a single new song, because you weren’t thinking ahead
  • It just takes much longer and is much more inefficient in the end

The advantages? The only one I can think of is that it requires less organisation for the song chooser in the short-term.

But trying to choose for too many weeks in one sitting is also not optimal. I find that, if I bite off more than I can chew, in the end I’m just throwing songs into holes in order to get it done.

So for me, the optimal time span is about 4-5 weeks (3 weeks at absolute minimum). That gives me a big enough picture to plan properly, and it’s also much more efficient than doing it weekly, because I get into a productive flow: as I’m looking through the song list for this week, I notice songs that would fit really well for next week, or for 4 weeks’ time, etc. Doing it week-by-week means that I have to get myself into the right headspace all over again every time. And that takes time!

For more in this Series:

What is corporate worship? (Part 1 of 9)

Why Sing? (Part 2 of 9)

What is the ‘shape’ of the corporate worship gathering? (Part 3 of 9)

What makes for good and effective singing? (Part 4 of 9)

Five principles for choosing songs (Part 5 of 9)

Choosing Songs – planning (this one)

Choosing Songs – preparation (Part 7 of 9)

Choosing Songs – order (Part 8 of 9)

Choosing New Songs (Part 9 of 9)


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