Are You a Needy Person?

Most of us know at least one person who is “needy.” Needy people

  • Take more than they give
  • Base their self-image on the opinions of others
  • Take advantage of friendships
  • Do not have appropriate emotional and personal boundaries

Truly needy people often cannot recognize their own behavior for what it is.

Every one of us, however, is a “needy” person spiritually.  

Spiritually we all

  • Are completely reliant on Christ for salvation
  • Are completely dependent on Christ to provide for us
  • Are lost without Christ’s guidance throughout life
  • Are ultimately unfulfilled and defeated without Christ

I consistently have to remind myself that I need God. Recently a new worship song on the scene has been helping me to remember that I need Christ every day.

All the People Said Amen

Lord, I Need You, recorded on All the People Said Amen by Matt Maher and written by Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves, Kristian Stanfill, and Matt Maher, is reminiscent of the classic hymn I Need Thee Every Hour (a favorite of mine), yet remains completely original, borrowing only a few lines from the hymn.

Here are the lyrics:

Lord, I come, I confess
bowing here I find my rest.
Without You I fall apart;
You’re the one that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You,
ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh, God, how I need You.

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more;
where grace is found is where You are.
Where You are, Lord, I am free;
holiness is Christ in me.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You,
ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh, God, how I need You.

So teach my song to rise to You
when temptation comes my way;
when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You.
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You,
ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh, God, how I need You.

You can buy the recording here.

In recent weeks this song has given me a lot of encouragement.  The words, “My one defense, my righteousness,” and “Jesus, you’re my hope and stay,” have been a rallying cry for me.

A few items are of particular interest to me as a musician, worship leader, and composer:

  1. The melody remains low for the first verse , the first chorus, and half of the second verse. The melody rises on the lyrics “Where you are,” highlighting the distance between us and Christ and how Christ lifts us up.
  2. The bridge, with the lyrics “So teach my song,” beautifully paints a picture of how we stumble through temptation and difficulty. The meter throughout the song is 4/4, but here the meter alternates between 3/4 and 4/4, giving the music a halting cadence.
  3. “Where grace is found is where you are” is terrible grammar, but the lyrics perfectly communicate that Christ is the source of all grace. If you experience grace, you are experiencing God.
  4. The melody spans a 12th, making the song difficult to place vocally and sing, but I am certain this song will be sung by many congregations in spite of that because of the incredible composition that it is.

This song is a beautiful reminder of our need for Christ.

What songs remind you of your need for Christ?

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How to Evaluate Worship Songs, Part 2

Thousands of songs are being written every week, and choosing which ones to introduce to your congregation is like the cliché: searching for a needle in a haystack.

Choosing the right songs usually focuses on the merits of the song itself, as we discussed in a previous post. The individual merits of a song, however, are not enough to deem a song appropriate for your congregation.

After evaluating songs for Quality we must also evaluate them for Fit. 

What does Fit mean?

Think of this analogy. When we hire a new employee we not only look for their professional qualifications and recommendations but also their fit with the existing staff. Does the potential employee complement the skills of the existing staff? Is he aligned with the mission of the organization? Does he add to or detract from staff chemistry?

We must evaluate songs in the same way.

Here are 5 things to consider when evaluating a song for Fit:

  1. Alignment. Does this song promote the current purposes of the church? Just as every staff member and volunteer must be moving in the same direction, every song must support the same mission.
  2. Chemistry. Does this song meet a specific need or address a particular weakness in the current repertoire? Types of needs could be tempo, theme, style, instrumentation, and so forth.
  3. Style. Is this song within the stylistic spectrum of the church? Every church has a stylistic fingerprint, and each song should reinforce the fingerprint.
  4. Difficulty. Is this song at an appropriate difficulty level for the worship team? Is the melody learnable for the congregation? Many great quality worship songs are just beyond the ability of a worship team to handle. Israel Houghton’s band will be able to do more difficult music than most bands, for instance.
  5. Stretch. Is this song intended to stretch the congregation or worship team in some way? While numbers 1-4 focus on a song’s fit within the current musical repertoire of a church, some songs should stretch those normal boundaries in appropriate and thoughtful ways. NOTE: “Stretch” songs should be few and far between.

What other criteria do you use when evaluating a song for Fit?

How to Evaluate Worship Songs, Part 1

Evaluating new worship songs for congregational singing is a never ending job.  Every day more great songs and lots of mediocre ones are being written, and worship leaders have to sort through them all.

My process of looking for new congregational songs contains two simultaneous processes.  For me to present a song to our senior pastor for consideration it has to pass muster on a Quality Evaluation and a Fit Evaluation.

Quality Evaluation is examining the craft of a song from the lyrics to the harmonies.  Fit Evaluation is deciding whether or not a song is appropriate for our particular church, given our history, culture, background, and so forth.

For this post let’s take a look at the Quality Evaluation.  I will address the Fit Evaluation in a following post.

In a Quality Evaluation I look for five things:

  1. Great Lyrics. Theologically sound and emotionally gripping. Grammatically clear.  There is some give and take in quality between elements of a song, but certain things, such as the theology of the lyrics, must never be compromised.
  2. Great Melody. Natural phrasing, reasonable range, fits the text well.
  3. Great Harmony. The harmony does not need to be complex; it simply needs to take us somewhere. The harmony needs to be married well with the text, just like the melody.
  4. Great Rhythm. What is the overriding rhythm to this song? Does it stick in your head and your gut? Does it match the mood of the text?
  5. Great Hook. A memorable song has a great musical gesture, whether that gesture is in the introduction, the melody, or some instrumental interlude somewhere in the song.  Some songs can survive without a great hook if all the other elements are excellent.

Once a song passes muster on these five points you can then do a Fit Evaluation.  We will take a look at that process in a later post.

Browse through your songlist (if you are a worship leader) and see how the songs measure up in these five areas.  If you are comfortable with it, please share the results and your action plan with us.