What Are Your “Go-To” Songs?

Fill in the blanks:

When I really want to get a service started off strong, we’ll sing _____.

On Easter Sunday we always start off by singing _____.

When the sermon has been on the topic of mission, I love to sing _____.

If we want to sing a song about being “in Christ”, then _____ is perfect!

If we sing _____ then I love following it up by singing _____.

_____ is my go-to song for starting off communion.

We all have our “go-to” songs. We’ve tried them and they’ve worked. Not only have they worked but they’ve worked really well. I love starting off a service with “Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes or closing a communion service with “Let Your Kingdom Come” by Bob Kauflin, or singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” as the opening hymn on Christmas Eve. It’s nice to fall back on those tried-and-true songs when I can’t think of anything better to use or don’t have the time or energy to try something different.

I’ve been realizing lately that my tendency to gravitate towards the same songs in the same slot time after time can contribute to a staleness and predictability in our services. God never ceases to be indescribably great and beautiful, but singing the same song about him being the “beautiful one” can become monotonous and seem rote. God’s greatness is unsearchable, but singing about “how great” our God is with the same song once a month for four years can get boring. I’ve likened it before to making a copy of a copy – you gradually lose crispness and vibrancy with each one.

I’m learning that in order to help people be aware that we can never sing enough about the cross, I need to help them articulate praise to the Lamb who was slain in as many combinations of words and melodies as possible. To help people come into a worship service reminded afresh of God’s greatness and kindness we can’t sing the same three songs on a rotating basis. If I want a Christmas Eve service to help shake people out of their last-minute-shopping-stress-coma, I need to think about whether “O Come All Ye Faithful” really is the best opening hymn, or if something else would be more effective.

Newness and creativity for the sake of being new and creative is idolatry. But newness and creativity for the sake of helping people see and encounter the glory of God afresh is worth the time and worth the effort, and one of our jobs as worship leaders.

Look for different and varied sources of congregational worship songs from which you can draw. Visit other churches or watch their services online. Put your most frequently sung songs “on the bench” for six months and force yourself to sing something different. Take a risk. Instead of starting off a service with a fast song, start it off slow. Read an appropriate Psalm corporately in between verses of a song. Anything to help you avoid doing the same song you always do in the same way you always do it.

What are your “go-to” songs? Try “not-going” to them for a while. It’s a good exercise in staying fresh.

4 thoughts on “What Are Your “Go-To” Songs?

  1. Manuel February 5, 2010 / 12:00 pm

    My go-to songs are:
    To start – Happy day (Tim Hughes)
    Easter – When I survey (Soul Survivor)
    Missions – God of Justice (Tim Hughes)
    God´s attributes – You (Tim Hughes)
    I love to sing I live to lift your name (Merchant Band) following up by Praise Him (David Crowder)
    Communion – How He loves (John Mark Mcmillan)

    All of them in spanish…

    And I agree with your toughts, I think as humans we tend to use what we domine, I like to sing songs that I know well.
    The problem raises form the same human condition, our tendency to memorize and sing with our brains more than with our hearts.

    I think good tools to help church to sing with their hearts are:
    Slow down the tempo
    Play an acoustic version
    Use a worship video between 2 songs
    Start the service with a slow song
    Switch from a male singer to a female one
    Change the dinamics of the song

    At least these have worked for us…

    Blessings!

  2. Ian February 5, 2010 / 2:08 pm

    Jamie,
    I was thinking… have you ever thought about writing a book?, you have some great wisdom for people. Please pray about it…
    Blessings,
    Ian

  3. Carolyn February 6, 2010 / 12:21 pm

    Go-to songs

    Starters:

    Everlasting God (Brewster)
    Your Grace is Enough (Tomlin)
    Hosanna (Praise is Rising) (Baloche)

    Others:

    Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
    From the Inside Out (Hillsong)
    In Christ Alone (Getty, Townend)

    Sorry I didn’t follow the fill int the blank format! I’m still a little young in worship leading, so I don’t have experiences with some of the specific service that you mentioned yet.

    Just found this site a few days ago. Great resource. Thank you!:)

  4. Peter July 26, 2012 / 5:13 am

    When I really want to get a service started off strong, we’ll sing EVERLASTING GOD (Vicky Beeching).

    On Easter Sunday we always start off by singing JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY (Wesley).

    When the sermon has been on the topic of mission, I love to sing SERVANTS OF THE GOSPEL (Bryson Smith).

    If we want to sing a song about being “in Christ”, then IN CHRIST ALONE (S Townend) is perfect!

    If we sing TO GOD BE THE GLORY (Phatfish) then I love following it up by singing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY (Phatfish).

    HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US (Townend) is my go-to song for starting off communion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s