As worship leaders, we all have “go to” songs that we use regularly, probably once every four to six weeks. These songs speak to the season our churches are walking through, and these anthems often produce the most hands raised and the loudest singing voices. Now don’t get me wrong, the Holy Spirit is the one who does the work in the hearts of the people and He is the reason those songs speak so powerfully to our congregations. But as musicians, we can play these songs in our sleep, so how do we keep them fresh?
Here are three easy ways to keep familiar songs fresh for our teams, our congregations and ourselves!
1. Use scriptures that correlate to the truths you are singing on the screen during instrumental breaks and longer interludes. We do this every week at The Journey. Sometimes we have it up during the intro, and sometimes we do it during the mid-song instrumental break, but no matter where we put it, the Word of God always speaks loudly and powerfully. In that moment, most people don’t remember that you played the same song two weeks ago.
2. Change the key from a low to a high key, or vice versa. This has become one of my favorite things to do. We have done it now with five regular songs and I’ve noticed a major difference in the response to the song. For example, we put “Forever Reign” in G and had one of our female leads sing it instead of putting it in C and having a male singer. Not only did our female lead sound excellent, it was also a friendlier key in which to engage the entire congregation.
3. Change the instrumentation and length of the song. This can be a regular practice for most worship leaders, but it’s still one of my favorite song alterations to make. If a song calls for lots of synth and electric guitar, I’ll change the synth to a light piano/pad mix on our keyboard, and instead of having two electrics I’ll have an acoustic higher in the mix and have my electric player either play slide or do some light finger picking. I’ll also have my drummer use brushes or rods instead of sticks and simplify his transitional fills. We may even cut out an instrumental break or shorten the turn arounds.
This article originally appeared here.