Worship Planning and Resources

Volume 13, No. 2 (February 2018)

(presentation to the Memphis chapter of the
American Guild of Organists, March 5, 2018)


A. Revelation & Response ↓↑  (see Worship Notes 1.5)
B. Thematic Worship    (see Worship Notes 3.4)

  1. Unity that transcends style
  2. Attributes of God, other biblical themes; plan around anthem, sermon, or lectionary
  3. Bulletin or projection to name/communicate theme

C. Priorities

  1. Worship. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” (Psalm 28:7)—our worship team and choir recites this verse together before going to lead the service.
  2. Flow. Between elements in the service; organ and piano or guitar can do this nicely
  3. Participation. Bring songs down into keys singable by untrained voices!)

D. “Preparing for Worship” (weekly email sent from the church; describes that week’s theme, and includes links to listen to songs that may be unfamiliar)

E. Holiday Services

  1. Christmas: Lessons & Carols (change up the standard readings; change readers: we use foreign-born readers in one service, and readers from all age groups in the church in the other)
  2. Palm Sunday/Easter: trace salvation history
    (this year’s focus: The Romans Road; sections will be: “The Way to the Cross” [man’s need and God’s provision of salvation], “The Way of the Cross,” [Christian living] “The Way Home” [our entrance into heaven])

A. In-house resources

  1. Former services (we keep all the keyboard, instrumental and choir parts, filed alphabetically by the service theme theme)
  2. Hymn file (this is a numerical file, according to the hymn number in our hymnal; in this I collect copies of hymn introductions, last-verse harmonizations, descants, etc.)
  3. Hymn sheets (used for assembling a choir packet for each week’s service), anthem boxes

B. Published resources

  1. The Worship Sourcebook (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship): hundreds of well-organized readings
  2. Hymnals: Psalms for All Seasons (2012): arranged by Psalm number; 2-5 different settings of each Psalm); Hymns of Grace (2015): excellent, balanced new hymnal

C. Software resources

  1. Sibelius/Finale notation programs (use for making key changes to bring songs into more singable ranges; use for writing instrumental parts, etc.; keep everything!)
  2. Bible program (it is so easy to use the search function to build original responsive readings)

D. Online resources

  1. hymnary.org (contents of hundreds of hymnals; search by text, melody, etc.; many hymns have downloadable Sibelius files)
  2. Contemporary songs: SongSelect (ccli.com), sovereigngracemusic.org, gettymusic.com, Indelible Grace Hymnbook: hymnbook.igracemusic.com (retuned hymns), lifewayworship.com (can buy individual instrumental parts for songs)
  3. proskuneo.org (global & multilingual songs)
  4. Petrucci Music Library (imslp.org); Choral Public Domain Library (www2.cpdl.org): thousands of free instrumental and choral works
  5. Worship Resources International (worr.org): articles, links, etc.
  6. Worship Notes (wornotes.wordpress.com): monthly newsletter
  7. Worship Quotables (worr.wordpress.com): daily worship quote
  8. Google: search for “free music”

E. Conferences

  1. Calvin Symposium on Worship (worship.calvin.edu): every January
  2. Sing! (gettymusic.com): every in Nashville

What other resources do you find particularly helpful in worship planning?

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