Leading Worship When it’s Early

How early is too early to sing?

11:00am is a pretty good time to sing in “the morning” since it’s almost afternoon.

10:00am is doable.

9:00am is on the early side, but still doable, especially for the ones who have had a cup of coffee or two.

8:00am and below is when you start getting into tricky territory. It’s early, people are moving slowly, and except for that rare morning person who is perkier than should be allowed, most people aren’t in the mood to break into heartfelt song.

So if you’re fortunate enough to be asked to lead worship at a service when it’s early in the morning, you’ll need to lead differently than you would later in the day or in the evening when people are actually awake.

If you come across like an annoying alarm clock, blaring “wake up! Wake up! This is the day the Lord has made! He is worthy of your praise! Put those hands together! Alleluia! Woooo!!!” then people are either going to be tempted to hit you in order to press “snooze” or decide to sleep in next week. No one likes a rude awakening.

Be gentle. Be encouraging and enthusiastic, but allow people to wake up and warm up.

I probably wouldn’t start a 7:30am service with Tim Hughes’ “Happy Day”. I might close the service with it if by that point we had been singing for a while and people were more awake and engaged, but at the very beginning of a service early in the morning, it’s probably a good idea to learn more towards slower, less aggressive songs

Use keys that are in the lower range for most people. If you normally sing Chris Tomlin’s “Holy is the Lord” in G, you might want to move it down to F. Move your songs down a step or two and it will make it more comfortable for people to sing.

Most people who come to an early-morning service have used their vocal chords very little, if at all, by the time they get to church. The first time they make a sound may very well be when the first song starts. If the song is too high or too fast, or if you’re expecting too much, they might just give up and not try. But if you’ve chosen songs in good keys, lead in a pastoral and gentle way, and help people lift their eyes to the glory of God, your congregation might actually sing! 

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