We’ve been looking recently at ideas for spontaneous worship, inspired almost entirely by a seminar I attended by Graham Kendrick. In the last post I described how Graham uses a basic groove and perhaps a chord sequence to provide a foundation for singing in an improvised style from the Psalms. I’ve done a bit more digging at crossrhythms.com and found some more fabulous material from him on the subject of “Psalm surfing” which he describes as worshipping God with an “open agenda”. Catching the waves as word and spirit combine in the improvised singing of Scripture – especially the Psalms. Seeking sacred space where creative adventures in prayer, praise and ministry can be inspired. Arts and voices together in Scripture-driven worship.
Using the Psalms in this way can refresh personal devotions as well as small group and public settings. Not only that, singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, poets, painters and dancers can find themselves riding new waves of inspiration.
Psalm Surfing rides 100% on the Word of God but responding to the inspiration of the moment and is a respite from predictable patterns. It also gives us a well earned break from the song list.
What is it good for?
Small group worship
Music Team/Choir rehearsals
Going places songs rarely visit
Dedicated worship times
Arts + voices in Scripture-driven worship
What does it require?
Humility and reverence of God
It needs a few skills including:
listening & repetition
evaluation decision communication
surviving public embarrassment!
Practice in private/in your core music team
(the best preparation for worship is worship)
Wait on God for direction
Manage peoples’ expectations
A briefing flyer on arrival can allay confusion
Simple demonstrative explanation
Assess the situation pitch an appropriate level
Choose a key / set the tempo/ “imagine” the first line
Just do it!
Things to consider
Lining out (call and response)
Reading until the words “sing”
Identifying a refrain
Clear verbal cues i.e. “listen” “repeat” “sing after me”
Musical “selahs” and silences
Making space for instrumental improvisation “moments”, the poetic, artistic, expressive movement, etc
Inviting appropriate input from the larger group
Reinforcing an emerging theme
Make sure that you review, evaluate, remember and learn from your mistakes
Musical leadership options:
Solo voice / voice and percussion / self-accompanied voice / I sing – you play / follow my fingers / follow a standard chord cycle
The most lyrical versions work the best (Graham prefers the Contemporary English Version).
Scripture on screen is helpful, but a Bible-in-Hand approach enables all gathered to browse, explore and cross-reference.
Things to avoid
Boring repetition, dead ends and “wipe-outs”
U.R.I. (Unreal Religious Intensity)
Jam-fests for the “cut loose” musician
Scripture taken out of context
The “dark side” of the Psalms – knowing the Psalms and reading ahead is recommended!
Pride / presumption
Photo credit – Andy Pressdee (used with permission) and thanks to Graham Kendrick and Cross Ryhthms for the most of the content above.