Before you can choose a great worship song set, you must have a well-managed master song list to select from. When all of your charts are piled together in a large stack it can be quite frustrating, not to mention time consuming, to find the right songs that flow together in the desired key and/or tempo. Better to have the songs that make up your church’s worship repertoire organized in such a way as to make them readily accessible for whatever your need when crafting a set.
The first component of a well-managed master song list is its size. A master song list should be large enough to give you an appropriate level of variety from week to week and yet small enough to keep a healthy level of familiarity for the congregation. Although there is no hard and fast rule regarding the proper size of a worship song repertoire, a master song list of two hundred to two hundred fifty should be about right for most churches. Having more songs beyond this number will make if difficult not only for the musicians to attain a certain level of familiarity but also for the congregation to maintain a basic level of familiarity. And congregational familiarity is important, as it’s a key component in encouraging engagement from those worshipping.
Related to the importance of repertoire size is the reality that the master song list is dynamic rather than static. This means that over the course of time new songs will be added and older songs will be dropped from the active list. This will be due to the on-going life of the congregation as well the continual development of new and anointed worship songs. An important aspect to remember is to keep the size of the repertoire around the two to two hundred fifty range. Don’t just keep adding new songs without weeding out those that seem to have outlasted their connection with the congregation.
Another key component to having a well-managed master song list is accessibility. This relates to the ability to find the right song for a specific need. There are a handful of good database software programs that can help you manage how each song is stored and accessed and I highly recommend doing some research and then investing one that best fits your needs and budget. While looking for a database program or system, keep in mind the following helpful accessibility components that worship leaders often find helpful in the search for the right songs. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. So feel free to make up your own categories or add to the suggestions below.
- Songs arranged by specific keys – many times it is nice to be able to view a list of the songs that you do in the specific key. This is especially helpful when creating a mini-set of several songs that will flow together seamlessly.
- Songs arranged alphabetically by title, author, first line of the song and/or chorus – if you already know which song that you want or which author you’d like to preview, then having songs in an alphabetical order is invaluable.
- Songs arranged by tempos – often it’s helpful to see a list of all the songs in a specific tempo such as grouping all of the up-tempo, medium, and slow songs. Another way to arrange songs by tempo would to sort by the specific beat per minute (bpm) that you do each song.
- Songs arranged by themes – another way to arrange songs is by specific themes. useful themes could include: God’s love, the cross, God’s grace, salvation, supplication, adoration, declaration, celebration and intimacy just to name a few. Specific religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Advent can also be used as themes for sorting your song list.
- Songs arranged by specific use in the service – every service or meeting has specific elements such as; call to worship, communion, invitation, and offering. Being able to view a list of songs that are appropriate for these specific elements can be quite helpful.
- Songs correlated to a specific scripture reference – the songs we sing in corporate worship should have one or more specific scripture references that directly, indirectly or thematically correspond to it. Having a database that is able to sort songs by specific scripture references and/or themes is extremely helpful; especially if you are wanting to support a sermon from a specific Bible passage.
(c) 2013, Brent Helming. All Rights Reserved