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How to Pick New Worship Songs

I like introducing new songs. I often find myself listening to new worship music and not really hearing anything that excites me, but out of nowhere I’ll find a song that seems perfect to introduce here at Calvary. There’s a few steps I go through when deciding what song(s) to add to the church repertoire:


Is it singable?

I can always pick a different key to make a song easier to sing, but if the melody is complicated from the start, it’s going to be difficult to teach to both the team and the congregation. I look at how fast the melody is, how many notes make it up, and the range from high to low. I can usually figure out on first listen if the song will be something easy teachable.


How important is the arrangement?

Often what makes a song so exciting and enjoyable to listen to is the arrangement. Big builds and instrumentals are a staple of a lot of worship music, but often, they’re the meat and potatoes of the song itself. We don’t have a huge worship team here at Calvary, so the songs we sing must be able to accommodate a smaller team. Personally, I look for songs that can hold their impact even if it’s just an acoustic guitar and one person singing. This leads me into the final and most important step.


Is the song good?

Obviously there is a matter of preference in what constitutes a “good” song, but I’m talking in a more objective sense. Is the message biblical? Is it relevant? If the message is both biblical and relevant, is it also clear and understandable? The songs we sing at Calvary should be challenging as well as truthful. We should be singing songs of praise, thanksgiving, lament, and reflection and all of them should have a clear message of the grace and power of our God. If we can remove God and still have a song make sense, then it is not a song we should be singing here at the church.


This is a small insight on what goes in to picking new songs here at Calvary. There are often more steps depending on the song, but this is a good overview.

Patrick Shay, Director of Worship