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Page CXVI Jubilee

5 Mar

PAGE-CXVI-HYMNS-Jubilee-COVERI’ve been a massive fan of Page CXVI from the day dot, pointing you towards their new albums as they’ve trickled out over the last few years. I was chuffed last week to get this email in the post…

To celebrate 7 years of making music together, the members of Page CXVI and The Autumn Film are giving away their entire music catalog for 7 weeks. Between re-arranging the classic hymns, to creating beautiful emotive indie pop music, the band has recorded 11 albums together. Please join them in celebrating this jubilee by catching up on the records you’ve missed or download the entire catalog.

I couldn’t recommend heartily enough jumping on the Page CXVI bandwagon. They really a doing a great job. Go download and be refreshed!


Guitar for Church Pt 4 (Concluding thoughts and Resources)

28 May
Here are a few thoughts to conclude on playing guitar in church:
Listen well. Listen to everyone else. You are not alone. How we interact with everyone else (including the congregation) is of vital importance.
Don’t distract through overplaying. Overplaying shifts attention from Him to us and is not helpful in the slightest.
Don’t distract through underplaying. If we bore people then we can equally distract from the One whom we are singing about.
Pray. While we work hard to serve others and to make the most of the gifts God has given us, we should always recognise our need for Him, even in playing guitar in church.
A few resources:
Worthily Magnify – a blog that mixes the theological with the practical. Written by Jamie Brown, a worship pastor, there’s an entire back catalogue of advice (and videos!) to help you and your whole music team.
Worship Matters – a blog by Bob Kauflin that again brings a great blend of theological and practical. Of special interest are seminars and lectures he gives that he then posts links too. Also very good for pointing to oteh web resources for musicians.
Worship Central – I recommend mainly for the video resources which help show some techniques etc. in lots of different areas, not just playing guitar.

Guitar for Church Pt 3 (Dynamics, Depth and Mood)

26 May

Without a doubt the most important part of our music in church are the lyrics. Therefore, through our playing we are trying to serve the lyrics, highlight the lyrics, give the lyrics room to breathe and connect with the congregation. It’s important then to remember dynamics, depth and mood.

Where you are in the service will generally have an effect on the way you play. If a song has been chosen to begin a service then the mood will tend to be more rousing than a reflective song that comes after a sensitive sermon. This will effect how you play. You’d play “Forever” at the start of a service quite differently to “Once Again” after a moving sermon on Gethsemene.

Moreover, depending on where you are in an actual song, you’ll want to play differently to suit the mood. Think about that classic third verse of “In Christ Alone.” You’re singing about Christ’s body lying dead in the tomb. The mood dictates that you pull back your guitar playing. But, half way through that verse:

Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!

Again, you’ll want to signify the triumph of this with your playing. So where you are in the song will have an effect on how you play.

In order to achieve this I often think about having several types of ‘strum.’ Am I picking, am I strumming a basic pattern, am I playing a chord on the first beat and letting it ring out, am I palm muting and playing quite aggressively? As well as helping to signify mood I think having several different strums can help give depth to a song.

Consider something like “Blesssed Be Your Name.” The song is, for all intense and purposes, 4 chords repeated in a cycle over and over again. So to give depth (and to signal shifts in the music) different strumming styles could be used in the verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge.

The same is true for hymns with many verses. If you don’t vary the strum on occasion between verses than the song can drag and rob the lyrics of their power. It’s just as possible to distract from what is being sung about with over playing as with under playing and boring people.

Another way to add depth is to explore the possibility of playing a song using a CAPO or shifting chord shapes up and down the neck of the guitar. This isn’t being lazy (in fact it’s hard work!) and it will help to increase the musical richness to accompany rich lyrics.

*Really all my thoughts are an amalgamation of things I’ve picked up from either Bob Kauflin or Jamie Brown. I am much indebted to them both*

Guitar for Church Pt 2 (Identifying Context)

25 May

Yesterday I posted some very basic Biblical principles for playing guitar (or any instrument) in church. It’s vital that we start there.

Having decided that:

We are looking at using our gifts (guitaring) for the benefit of the body, specifically by helping them sing to, from and about God…together.

We must move on to identify the specific context or situation we are playing in. As I see it there are 2 either/or situations we should distinguish between and then adapt our playing to suit.

You are either leading or accompanying:

If you’re leading, you’ll need to remember to lead in setting the pace and feel of a song. Others in your band/congregation will look to you to signal musically what’s happening. They’ll also look to you to signal musically when there’s a shift in the song, be it between verses, between verse/chorus/bridge or a change in theme/subject matter in the song which requires a shift in the music. In all of this it’s vital to invite feedback when you’re practising. You don’t want to establish a democracy where everyone gets an equal vote, but neither do you want to establish a dictatorship in which only you can have a say. Inviting feedback require humility.

If you’re accompanying, you’ll need to remember that you’r not in charge! Graciously look to who ever is leading to set direction, which you can then follow. Invite direction from who ever is leading, don’t just wait for instruction, show willing by actively seeking their leadership.

You are either in a band or playing alone:

If you’re part of a band then you need to leave space for others. Don’t play everything, all the time. The reason that you are part of a band is so that others can contribute. And don’t duplicate what others are doing. If the music needs more volume, ask the PA people to turn up the slider.

If you’re playing alone then you need to do more than when you’re part of a band. There is still a danger of over playing though and there’s no way of really duplicating that ‘whole band’ feel. So don’t try. Sometimes you’ll have to lead more with your voice than with our instrument. You’ll also have to play drums with your guitar. That is, through your strumming make it obvious what time signature you’re in and when the first beat of ever bar is.

*Really all my thoughts are an amalgamation of things I’ve picked up from either Bob Kauflin or Jamie Brown. I am much indebted to them both*

Guitar for Church Pt 1 (Biblical Thoughts)

24 May

When thinking about playing guitar (or any instrument in church) it’s worthwhile bearing a few things in mind…

Psalm 100 teaches us (at least) 4 things about our musical worship:

  • We are to make music to God. Our singing should be directed at Him.
  • We are to make music from God. Our music should be motivated by Him and what He has done.
  • We are to make music about God. Our music should contain truths about Him and what He has done.
  • We are to make music corporately. Our music shouldn’t primarily be a solo pursuit.
But  there’s more…
Romans 12:1-8 teach us (at least!) 2 things about serving in church through playing guitar:
  • Our service is a response to God’s mercy shown to us in Christ.
  • Our service is for the benefit of our fellow members of Christ’s body, the church.
These 2 passages lead me to make the following general statement about playing guitar in church:
We are looking at using our gifts (guitaring) for the benefit of the body, specifically by helping them sing to, from and about God…together.

*Really all my thoughts are an amalgamation of things I’ve picked up from either Bob Kauflin or Jamie Brown. I am much indebted to them both*

Cardiff Music Ministry Conference

23 May

CMMCLast Saturday myself and a few chaps from my church made the trip up the M4 to Cardiff to attend the Cardiff Music Ministry Conference.

Music Ministry is an organisation that seeks to assist local churches in teaching musicians both theologically and practically to be more effective in the local church. They also want pastors to be taking seriously the task of using music in their churches to teach and equip their people. The one verse to control them all is found in Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms,hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

The conference was fantastic. While numbers were low, Jonathan Steven’s sessions on why we sing and what we sing were brilliant, broad strokes of the place of singing in worship and the life of the church. More than this the conference offered an opportunity for all those involved in music in their church to attend tailor-made seminars. From guitarists to sound techs, service planners to singers, everyone was able leave both theologically encouraged and practically equipped.

It’s my prayer that future incarnations of this event will reach a wider audience because it’s so important that the caricature of churches having either ‘good teaching’ or ‘good music’ be put to bed.

As soon as the audio from the main sessions becomes available I’ll post a link.

In the mean time, please make do with some notes on playing guitar in a church setting. I can give these piecemeal over the coming week because I led the seminar in the conference. I hope you find them helpful

Another EP out of Washington

29 Feb

Yep, Mars Hill band Kings Kaleidoscope are at it again. This time a new EP featuring ‘All Creatures’ (predictably), ‘Come thou Fount’, ‘In Christ Alone’ and ‘Jesus Paid it All.’

What I love about Kings Kaleidoscope is that the music keeps you on your toes. All four tracks are extremely familiar and haven’t been messed about with too much yet bring just enough musical creativity and surprise to help you from switching off.

Here it is: