Effective Song Leading

Effective Song Leading

To be asked to lead spiritual songs in the assembly is to be given the privilege of directing the congregation in worship to God. The leader is not just leading singing, but leading others in true worship. An effective song leader is one who realizes the importance of his work.

1. Sincere faith in and love for God are prerequisites to effective song leading.

Sincerity is contagious and our worship must be genuine and earnest in order to be pleasing to the Lord (John 4:23-24).

2. Songs must be selected that appeal to the heart of man.

Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 teach that we are to “sing and make melody in the heart” and “sing with grace in the heart” to the Lord. Singing must edify the hearts of those who worship in order for it to be acceptable to the Lord. An effective song leader will take this into consideration.

3. Songs must be selected that the congregation can sing.

Most of the members of a congregation are not able to sight-read new songs. They are in the assembly to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. If they are unable to sing the song, that part of their worship is vain (Matthew 15:8,9). Learning new songs can be done at special services or classes set aside for that purpose. Once learned, they should be sung in the assembly worship.

4. Following a theme, such as “faith”, “hope”, “love”, etc., makes the song service more effective.

Songs that complement the sermon ought to be used whenever it is possible, especially before the lesson.

5. It takes a whole lot of planning to make our song leading more effective.

A song leader needs to know well in advance that he is to lead the singing so that he can have time enough to plan his part of the worship. The song leader doesn’t want to find out at the last minute that he is to lead any more than a preacher wants to find out at the last minute that he is to preach. There could be cases of emergency, but for this to happen on a regular basis is without excuse. In planning the song service, the song leader should consider using a variety of keys and rhythms. It is monotonous to sing the same key and rhythm over and over. Songs are written in various key signatures (C; F; B flat; E flat; A flat; D flat; G; D; A; E). Also, in music, we find songs in “common” time (2/2; 3/2; 2/4; 3/4 and 4/4) and “compound” time (6/4; 9/4; 6/8; 9/8; 12/8). NOTE: The following example of variety can lead to a more effective song service: “Heavenly Sunlight” (Key of G – 9/8 rhythm); followed by “The Love of God” (Key of D – 4/4 rhythm); followed by “Looking to Thee” (Key of A – 12/8 rhythm). This might sound complicated, but it will help to keep the song service from becoming dull.

6. Enthusiasm is vital to effective song leading.

A quarterback on a football team who has an enthusiastic spirit can motivate his teammates to have the same enthusiasm he has about the game. A song leader who is sincerely enthusiastic can motivate the audience to have the same enthusiasm he has in his heart about singing praise to the Almighty God. Enthusiasm is contagious!

7. The desire to improve is also an important ingredient in being an effective song leader.

Song leaders need to be continually improving in their sight-singing abilities, song directing, pitching songs and learning newer songs. A song leader will lose his effectiveness when he thinks he has learned all he needs to know. The effective servant of the Lord is one who always sees the need of growing in every area of his life as a Christian. Many song leaders have good voices but do not know how to pitch a song correctly. Therefore, the song is led too high or too low, taking away from the effectiveness of the song. This can be eliminated when one learns the process of pitching songs correctly. Also, songs are often led too slowly because the one leading has not learned how to direct the various rhythm (tempo) patterns. This, too, can be corrected.

Effective song leading is accomplished the same way effective teaching is accomplished. It takes a lot of “want to” mixed with hard work. When we see the fruits of more effective song worship, it’s well worth the effort!

R. J. Stevens – Originally Written March 1985

Improving Our Worship

Improving Our Worship

The New Testament tells us what early Christians did in their worship and also the manner in which their worship was done. It is not up to man to invent ways to improve worship apart from the word of God (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17). John 4:24 records, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” If I practice something in worship for which there is NO scriptural authority or . . . if I have an attitude of bitterness in my heart when I worship, such is unacceptable before God (Matthew 5:23-24; 15:8-9). Therefore, worshiping God acceptably involves doing what God says and . . . doing it from a sincere heart.

Throughout the Bible, we can see that God has always required that His children give the best of themselves and of their sacrifices to Him. For ALL that He has done since the creation of the world, God deserves it! Today in New Testament worship, God deserves my best! Obviously, as a disciple of the Lord, I can worship God at any time and in any place. However, as a Christian, I have the responsibility and privilege to assemble with fellow disciples. Even though there are times when we worship with others in an assembly, worship is still an individual matter. What can I do, personally, to improve my worship before God? Please give the following areas of worship your consideration:

How can I improve my worship in song?

Passages such as 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16 teach us to sing with spirit, with understanding, with melody in your heart and with a heart filled with grace. The command to sing involves MY learning something about singing. If I am a song leader in song worship, I need to learn to lead singing to the best of MY ability in order to encourage others, so that they, too, can give of their best in song worship as followers.

How can I improve my worship in partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

It’s obvious that the early disciples partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week (Acts 2:42; 20:7). However, according to 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, I must partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine in memory of Christ. I must discern the Lord’s death till He comes again. Sometimes it helps me in my discernment to read scriptures and lyrics to songs that take my mind back to the cross of Christ.

How can I improve my worship in teaching and hearing God’s word?

A preacher is worshiping God when he preaches. As a preacher of truth, I can improve my worship in proclaiming the Word when I speak with all boldness (Acts 4:29). My worship in preaching will be more effective when I preach in the spirit of meekness and humility (Galatians 6:1-2). I must also speak with love in my heart; not only for my Lord, but also for the same people He loves (1 Corinthians 13:1). Those who hear the gospel are also worshiping while listening. As a hearer, I should receive the message with all readiness of mind – just like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). The worshipful hearer not only receives the Word but also embraces it (believes) and obeys. If I want to improve this part of my worship, I will show reverence for the Word.

How can I improve my worship in praying to God?

As one leading the prayer, I need to prepare myself. The lack of preparation in prayer often leads to wordy repetition. I need to pray loud enough that the congregation can hear the words and be able to say, “A-men.” The scripture teaches me to pray with spirit, understanding and faith. I need to be enthusiastic when I pray and mean every word that I say. On the other hand, as a listener to a public prayer, I need to concentrate on what is being said while having an attitude of prayer in my heart.

How can I improve my worship in giving?

The Bible teaches me to give on the first day of the week, as I have prospered, as I have purposed, and to give cheerfully, willingly and bountifully (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:7-8; 8:12; 9:5-7). It is essential to learn the truth about giving as much as it is to learn the truth about partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week or about singing praises to God without instrumental music. To not give as God instructs will make my worship vain.

My worship needs to be improved if, in any way, it is according to the commandments of men rather than instruction from God. My worship needs to be improved when it is only from my mouth and not from my heart. Whatever we can do that is in harmony with God’s expressed will – to worship according to truth and to worship from our hearts – needs to be put into practice. And remember, true worship glorifies our heavenly Father and edifies our brothers and sisters in Christ.

R. J. Stevens & Tim Stevens

Blest Be The Tie That Binds: A Hymn Study

Blest Be The Tie That Binds: A Hymn Study

Though this old standard is most often used as a closing song, it is much more. Published by
John Fawcett in 1792 with a collection of other songs, it is believed, however, to have been
written about 1772. For nine years Fawcett had been preaching for two small congregations in
rural England, composed primarily of farmers and shepherds. He was offered, and initially
accepted an invitation to work in a large London church. However, after packing many of his
family’s goods, he refused to leave his beloved brethren. Though his present salary was
meager, hardly enough to provide for his own family, he could not leave those making up the
congregations whom he loved. Though this story is never told on his own writings, it is believed
that Blest Be the Tie That Binds was written shortly after his decision to stay.

Some words to consider:
1. Kindred—similar nature or character
2. Ardent—devoted, zealous, passionate
3. Asunder—torn into parts, separated from each other

Verse One
We as Christians are bound together like no other group of people in the world. No school
spirit, no civic club, not political party, not business partnership…nothing can match the
closeness we should feel, for we are bound by the love of Christ, and in Him we have full joy in
fellowship with Him. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also
may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus
Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full,” I John 1:3-4. Regardless
of the differences we might have in worldly matters, we share ‘kindred minds’ that Jesus is the
ultimate authority (All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” Matthew 28:18), and it
is by Him that we do all things, II Timothy 3:16-17.

Verse Two
When we offer prayer to God, publicly or privately, they should be heart-felt, passionate
request (“We pour our ardent prayers”), not merely the repetition of ‘holy’ sounding phrases.
In this song we remind ourselves that there are areas in which we can and should pray.
1. “Our fears”. David, in Psalm 23:4, reminds himself that “I will fear no evil, for Thou art
with me.”

2. “Our hopes”, the things for which we are waiting with eager expectation. “For the grace
of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this
present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great
god and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from
all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Titus2:11-
14. See also Titus 3:5-7, and I Thessalonians 5:8-9.

3. “Our aims” should be the aims of our LORD and Savior, namely, to bring salvation to all
men, ‘For the Son if man is come to seek and to save that which is lost,” Luke 11:10. It
was also understood by many as the purpose of the apostles, “There men are the
servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation,” Acts 16:17b.

4. “Our comforts and our cares.” I urge you to use your concordance and examine the
words pray and prayer; look up the references to remind yourself of things for which we
should pray. Here are just a few. Jesus instructed us to pray for physical needs, Matthew
6:11. Pray for deliverance from temptation, Matthew 2:41; for your enemies, Matthew
6:28; for those who teach and preach the gospel, Luke 10:2; for the strengthening of our
faith, Luke 22:32; for the salvation of others, Romans 10:1 and Colossians 4:3; for
forgiveness of our sins, Acts 8:22; for our Christian brethren, Acts 12:5 and John 17:20;
for whatever your cares may be, Philippians 4:6 and Mark 11:24.

Verse Three
This special bond we have should indeed draw us together. IF we truly consider ourselves to be
children of God, we are siblings, and siblings care for each other. We share problems that
others cannot understand, and we can help each other through tough times in areas both
personal and spiritual. Who better understands our struggles in this life and who likely give
better advice than those who realize out dependence on, and our foundation in the Word of
God than fellow Christians? If you do not have a friend in Christ, with whom you can talk about
your deepest feelings or in times of extreme distress, you are missing one of the great blessings
in Christ on this earth.

Verse Four
Many things separate us in this life. Our jobs may cause us to leave one place for another,
children move away from their parents, campers and counselors may weep when camp is over;
we can be geographically divided for various reasons. Regardless of the occasion, sorrow
usually accompanies a separation of this manner. Even more painful is the death of loved ones,
for we have no means of contact. But in every separation, we long for the day when we can
spend eternity together in Heaven with all of God’s children.

Rock of Ages: A Hymn Study

Rock of Ages: A Hymn Study

The lyrics of this old, familiar song are attributed to Augustus Toplady, circa 1775. Toplady was at one time a very close friend of John Wesley. However, he disagreed strongly with Wesley’s Calvinistic doctrine, and their relationship degenerated to the point of open criticism and public opposition. He wrote an article for a London-based religious paper, in which he attempted to calculate the number of sins a man could commit in a lifetime. The thrust of the article was the impossibility of repaying God for our salvation. Though the exact title phrase, “Rock of Ages” is not to be found in the King James Bible, the concept of Jesus the Christ being our source of strength, protection and salvation is conveyed in Isaiah 26:4, “Trust ye in the LORD forever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” In the NJKV translation, the last phrase is rendered, “For in God the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” First, we look at few words for clarification:
  • Cleft—a space or opening, a split.
  • Languor—a state of being lazy or lethargic.
  • Atone—to reconcile for an offense, in this case, sin.


Just as David hid from the evil intentions of King Saul in the cave of Adullam (I Samuel 22:1), and fled to the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph (I Samuel 23:14), so too, can we find protection in the cleft of our Rock, the LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we sing verse one, we acknowledge the total dependency we have on Jesus, and proclaim his saving power, by our remembrance of the shedding of His precious blood at the hand of those cruel executioners. ”But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water,“ John 19:34. This outpouring of blood completed the offering of the ultimate, perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind for all ages. This blood is truly a double cure. It can save us from the wrath of God, as Paul writes in Romans 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” It also makes us pure; Paul wrote of Jesus who “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works”, Titus 2:14.


As we sing this verse, we admit the helpless situation we find ourselves in without the saving power of the cross. When we sin, we are guilty of violating God’s law; when we are guilty, we deserve punishment; the punishment established by the law of God is everlasting death, Romans 6:23. In my work as a teacher in high school, I have seen students nearly flood the room with tears when reprimanded for some type of misbehavior. Some of these tears, I am convinced, were tears of true remorse, or at least of the fear of punishment. Others, I am equally convinced, were tears-on-demand, contrived, attempting to obtain leniency from the one sitting in judgement. Tears of any kind will not, however, diminish God’s view of any sin, or His judgment on the sinner. Even though we sincerely and feverishly work in this work for the cause of the LORD from before daylight breaks until after darkness falls, we still cannot work off the guilt of, or earn the forgiveness for one sin. Romans 5:18, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” We can pay fines for overdue library books and parking tickets; we can donate land for meeting houses to be erected, give money to those truly in need, or for any other good cause, but we do not have enough of anything material to pay the penalty when we sin: forgiveness of sins is a gift of grace, unmerited favor. The only way for grace to be grasped is through our obedience to the Gospel, Romans 5:1-2.


In this final stanza, we take ourselves to the closing view of our life here on this earth. As we leave this world in physical death, and rise to the heavenly scene, we see the Christ sitting on His throne. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Hebrews 12:2. We must affirm as Peter did in Matthew 16:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This statement, being the rock-solid foundation of our belief, reflects our thrust that it is by and through Him, our Everlasting Rock, that we have our hope of eternal life. Article by Hugh Bozeman (2018)