There are some great songs out there that don’t always translate exactly the same for a worship service as the recordings. How He Loves is one of my favorite songs these days. I love John Mark McMillan’s lyrics and I have a man crush on David Crowder. How could you not?!? When leading this for a congregation though your goal is to help them pray and sing along. The second verse is tricky. Here’s how we led it last Sunday during communion:
- Verse 1 with just piano and one vocalist.
- Instrumental riff with electric guitar
- Repeat verse 1 with other vocals joining and bass
- Chorus 1 “Oh, how he loves us so…”
- Instrumental riff again
- Verse 2- we go almost completely out here and take this way down to just piano and one vocal again. We slowly built it back up to the second chorus. We also didn’t jump up an octave like Crowder does on the recording keeping it more simple for the congregation.
- Chorus 2- “He loves us, oh how he loves us…” this is where we let go and let this song get big. We sang the lead an octave up and repeated this chorus again.
- Then we went back to Chorus 1 back down in the original octave, but all out except piano and no harmony in the vocals.
I often joke that we don’t ever play a song the same way twice. That’s the great thing about live music! There isn’t a set way that you have to do it. Often you need to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, have a feel for how much time you have and how big (loud) you want to get. There are a lot of factors that go into it and your group has to be able to listen to each other. *Sports analogy in honor of the Super Bowl*…good teams know how to audible or go off script in order to be successful. We rehearse from a playbook and have an outline of what to do, but during mass, there are variables that cause you to lengthen or shorten the song or grow it or keep it more intimate. That’s how good church music works.
A mistake a lot of worship bands make is tying to sound exactly like a recording. I rarely sing a song in Chris Tomlin’s key because there are few people out there with his range. The same is true for the way we chose to do How He Loves this past Sunday.