By now, I hope, you’re aware of the fact that I strongly believe worship leaders need to care about how the lyrics are projected. It’s one way to serve the congregation and ensure that as few distractions as possible occur during the service. All your hours of preparation and rehearsal won’t matter if the wrong song gets projected. You’ll be on your own.
I’d like to suggest that it even matters where you put the song title. This is a very small detail and I’m sure there are varying opinions on this subject – but here’s an example of a slide I think has the song title in the wrong place and why.
Many churches do this on the first slide of the song. At the top of the slide, in big bold letters, the song title sits there and yells at you: “this is the title of the song we’re singing!” Here’s why I don’t think this is a good idea.
- It makes the song title the most important thing and draws everyone’s focus away from the words they’re supposed to be singing.
- It takes up valuable space on the slide.
- It’s unnecessary.
The song title belongs in the “small print” on the slide. See the example below.
This is a better way to display the song title for a few reasons:
- It’s not distractingly big or small. Yes, it’s small on the blog – but not projected on the screen (at least in our room). If people are interested in what the song title is, they can see it. If they don’t care, it’s not screaming at them.
- It doesn’t take up so much space on the slide.
- It doesn’t elevate the song title to such a high position of importance.
If your slides resemble the first example – with the song title front and center, underlined and bolded, loud and proud, I would suggest that it’s a distraction for people during your service. Make it smaller and put it lower and I would be surprised if anyone is disappointed.
CCLI has a great and easy tutorial on what information you’re required to project on your slides. Click here.
The song used in the slide is “Creation Sings the Father’s Song” by Stuart Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty. You can find more info about the song in this post.
It’s one thing to have glaring mistakes in your lyric projection, and another to have little ones. Big mistakes (i.e. missing verses, bad line breaks) should be easy to catch if someone is taking the time to look out for them. Little mistakes are harder to catch, especially if you’re the one who made the slides in the first place.
But the little mistakes can end up causing big distractions, especially to eagle-eyed members of your congregation.
Here are a couple of examples.
First, in this verse of Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”, two misplaced apostrophes are the difference between a good looking slide and a slide that doesn’t meet elementary school grammar standards. The good slide is first, the bad slide is second.
If I’m in the congregation and this slide comes up, my attention will (unfortunately) be drawn to the poor editing, not to the worthiness of God.
Here’s a second example, using verse one of another Matt Redman song, “Let Everything That Has Breath”. The first slide is correct. The second slide has two little mistakes. First, the word “you” is repeated twice in a row in one spot. Second, the word “of” is missing in the last line.
These kind of mistakes can end up making people spend the whole verse trying to figure out what in the world they should be singing – and where they should be singing it!
Watch out for the little mistakes. It’s one way to care for your congregation and lead them in ways they’ll never notice. And that’s the point.
A month ago I began a series that I’ll pick up on every once in a while titled “projecting excellence”. If worship leaders want the congregation to be engaged in worship, with as few distractions as possible, making sure the words are projected with excellence will go a long way. You can practice for hours, but if one verse is left out, you’ll be singing a solo. You can prepare all week, but if there’s a glaring typo, the congregation might be too busy snickering or too confused to know what they’re supposed to sing. Worship leaders should care about the big details and the small details.
So far we’ve looked at line spacing and font size. Today I want to look at the importance of keeping the lines of a song in context with each other. We’ll use Stuart Townend’s “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” as an example.
Here’s an example of how the first half of verse one is kept in context:
And now here’s an example of how the verse is unfortunately split up into two slides.
In the first example, a couple of things are happening. First, a complete thought is presented together – not split up halfway through. The congregation is given time to see, sing, and consider the truth the Father’s deep love is shown in him giving up his only son. Second, the congregation isn’t being bombarded with transitioning slides every 10 seconds. A slide with a complete thought is able to “sit” for a while.
In the second example, the two slides that split up the sentence, a couple of things are happening that I think are unfortunate. First, a complete thought is being spliced in half. While I’m not suggesting the average person in the congregation only has a four-second memory span, by the time the second slide pops up and we’re singing “that He should give His only Son”, we have forgotten that this is what shows us “how deep the Father’s love” is for us. Second, the slides are constantly being changed. This can become somewhat jolting for the congregation, not to mention the person advancing them!
When I’m leading a congregation in corporate worship, my hope is that they will be responding to the great truths we are singing. It helps people respond to great truths when they’re presented in a thought-out fashion. Try to make sure your slides keep sentences and thoughts in context. This is a small detail that can make a big difference.
Last week I suggested worship leaders can’t be oblivious to what’s happening on the screen during a worship service, since even the little things can add up to create big distractions. Bad line spacing is one little thing, and the size of the font is another.
If your font size is too big, then you wind up with a slide that is screaming at people and is sensory overload:
If your font size is too small, then you wind up with a slide that isn’t readable to anyone standing farther back than the first two rows, anyone with poor vision, or anyone who didn’t bring binoculars with them to church.
A well-chosen font size is neither too big nor too small. It leaves a nice margin around the text box on all sides. It allows the text to fill up the screen nicely so that there isn’t tons of empty space, but it also allows some empty space so that your eye isn’t overwhelmed.
Things to keep in mind:
- Can you read the slide comfortably from the very back of the room?
- Are the words too big? If you’re using a font size 42 and up, the answer might be yes.
- When you look out on Sunday morning, are people squinting? Your font size is too small.
- Are people moving their heads in order to follow all the words in the slide? Your font size is too big.
- Ask some people what they think. Can they read the words comfortably? Ask them to be honest with you.
The size of the font that you use in your slides is not the most major issue you will deal with as a worship leader. But caring about these small details is one way to be faithful even in the little things.
In my experience, most worship leaders are oblivious to what’s happening on the screen during a worship service. Wrong words, poorly chosen backgrounds, skipped verses, bad fonts, etc. Worship leaders think it isn’t their responsibility to worry about such things, and that all they have to do is forward their song list to the technical team and everything will be fine when they show up on Sunday morning. I disagree. If you’re the worship leader, you’re responsible for making sure that once the service begins and the very first song starts, there are as few distractions as possible that might keep the congregation from engaging with God. I’m not suggesting that every worship leader has to prepare the files him or herself – but I am suggesting that every worship leader needs to care about what is being projected onto the screens.
Every couple of weeks or so on this blog, we’ll focus on small details that, when added up, make a huge difference. There are a lot of things that we need to keep in mind when projecting lyrics so we’ll take it slowly – one detail per post. Today we’ll look at line breaks, and we’ll use the first verse of “In Christ Alone” as an example.
Here’s an example of poor line breaks.
If I’m in the congregation and this is on the screen, I might be really annoyed by this. It looks messy. The words don’t move to different lines at natural points in the song. There are single words taking up whole lines and then some lines that go really long. It looks like whoever typed this up didn’t care about what they were doing and it was done as an afterthought.
Here’s an example of good line breaks.
Notice how it looks much cleaner than the previous example. The words move to new lines at natural points in the song. The line breaks usually happen where you’d take a breath (after “fiercest drought” ). There aren’t any single words taking up entire lines. It looks like whoever typed this up cared about it and thought through how the line breaks could help the congregation not be distracted.
Things to keep in mind:
- Are there any extended (two or three beats) pauses in the line when we sing it? That’s a natural place for a line break.
- Does this slide look messy? Tinker around with it and try to make it look pleasing to the eye.
- Does my eye have to hop around a lot to figure out where I’m going? Try to make your line breaks flow in a way that’s easy to follow.
- Are there any “orphaned” words sitting all by themselves? Break up the line evenly so this doesn’t happen.
Even the little details matter!