Thy Word - Designing turns in music
This past week one of our readings was a section of Psalm 119 including verse 105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Well, I guess we almost have to play Amy Grant's 1984 hit, Thy Word.
Well, this song is repetitive, and old, and people are likely to go into robot/zombie worship mode with such a familiar song, so I gained the Pastor's approval to do something creative with the piece to keep the congregation engaged. So I played the song over and over to see if it would naturally lead me somewhere else... and eventually I found my way to the 2005 worship anthem The Stand.
This song has never been sung in worship by our congregation and the band has never played it before. I pitched the plan to them, sharing the vision of this grand turn where the song will go from comfortable and quiet, to triumphant and energetic.
So how do we help the congregation accept the experience in a way that will allow/draw the congregation to worship...
So we placed the song at a point in the service, after the reading of Psalm 119, where it wouldn't be too awkward to take a moment to talk about the music in the service. So when it was time to lead this piece, I took the mic and pulled the curtain back on the process of planning worship for the congregation, talking about the work that goes into the thematic nature and connectivity of the service, and how the worship team prepares for worship...
I explained that sometimes it can be challenging some weeks to make these decisions, and others, like this week, the choices are basically handed to us...
Thy Word obviously goes with Psalm 119, but when I sat down to study the song, I noticed that the language is very passive. Most of the actions in the song are being done to the singer; the song is about "Thy."
Which is great! This is a song of praise to God, and gratitude for the gift of scripture. But I wanted to provoke response in worship as well, so in the last movement of the song, I explained, we will switch from passive, to active, - from "Thy" to "I."
So the feel of the song goes... Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, You have loved me extravagantly, You will never abandon me ... because of that ... "I'll stand with arm high and heart abandoned."
After the explanation/invitation, our main vocalist/guitarist sang the new chorus (from The Stand) so that the congregation would know how to sing it, and we counted in the song.