Yesterday I shared some examples of when it can actually be helpful, and not annoying, for worship leaders to give verbal cues (i.e. say the upcoming lyrics before they’re sung). When it’s just a bad/nervous habit, it can be distracting and irritating. When it’s done sparingly and necessarily, then it can actually serve people.
Here are some more instances when you might want to give a verbal cue to the congregation:
When it’s not clear when they should start singing again
Most people know that after you sing the first half of a line, you immediately sing the second half. They don’t need your help to figure that out. But occasionally there might be an instrumental interlude, or a longer-than-usual pause, or a non-congregational portion of a song. It can be helpful to cue your congregation that you’re about to start singing together again, especially when that entry-point might not be so intuitive for the average person.
When the next line is the key line
Since people can easily tune out and be thinking about what’s for dinner instead of what’s coming out of their mouths, it can be helpful to draw their attention to a key line of a song to help draw their attention to it. If done sparingly, this can be effective. If done too frequently, it’s not effective at all.
For example, if I’m leading “How Great Thou Art”, I might jump in on the second verse and say “…my burden gladly bearing…” just before we sing it. It helps underline that what was accomplished on the cross was that Jesus took my burden on sin upon himself.
When a cue helps emphasize Gospel truth, it’s an effective cue.
Try to think carefully about when and why you give a prompt of upcoming lyrics so that they’re as effective and helpful as possible. Just put yourself in the shoes of the congregation and be as mindful as you can of doing practical things to help lead them, in a clear way, in magnifying and exalting the glory of God.