When to Give Verbal Cues – Pt. 1

There are few things more annoying in corporate worship than a worship leader who feels the need to give a verbal cue before almost every line. It’s almost as if the congregation didn’t have the words in front of them in the bulletin or on the screen, and were completely dependent on the worship leader to announce the upcoming line’s first two or three words.

It’s a habit worship leaders develop either out of nervousness or out of a desire to fill the empty space between lines. In that empty space – maybe a beat or two – almost on autopilot, he or she speaks out “mountains bow down!” or “opened my eyes let me see!” or “clothed in majesty!”

It’s a bad habit and is usually unnecessary. But… when is it helpful for worship leaders to give verbal cues? Here are some instances I can think of:

When the lyrics operator falls asleep
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the screen as you’re leading worship. If you notice the slide hasn’t been advanced, it might be a good idea to prompt the person running the slides and help the congregation out by feeding them the next few words.

When you’re going against printed/projected instructions
If I want to repeat the verse of a song instead of going back to the chorus, and the congregation is following a printed bulletin where the instruction after a verse is: “(chorus)”, then after that verse I’ll say something like “let’s sing that verse again”. It helps keep everyone together.

Or if I want to skip past a “repeat” instruction either in a bulletin or on the screen, I might say the first few words of the section I want to jump into in order to cue people that we’re moving forward and not going back.

Tomorrow we’ll look at some more instances when it’s actually helpful to give verbal cues.

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