What Congregations Wish Song Leaders Knew
by Sewell Hall

Of course, congregations differ. A majority in some congregations just want to have fun. Given the opportunity to choose songs, they choose those with the most moving parts, the strongest beat or after-beat and the opportunity for showcasing their vocal talent with leads and obbligatos. They judge the quality of singing by how loud and fast it is. This determines what they want their song leaders to know. Our concern is not with such preferences as these.

Thankfully, there are congregations whose members assemble to worship God. They have two concerns. The first is to “offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of [their] lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). The second is that the singing, as all other “things be done for edification” (1 Cor. 14:26). This determines what they want song leaders to know.

1. Song leaders should know the importance of their role. They are leading the congregation in worship. It is difficult for the congregation to rise above the standard they set. God has always expected those who lead in worship to give it their best effort. It is not a time for jokes and levity. The punishment of Nadab and Abihu must have been as much for their carelessness as for their substitution of strange fire (Lev. 10:1-2). Following their death, the Lord's message to Aaron, their father was: “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy And before all the people, I must be glorified” (Lev. 10:3).

Whether assembled Christians truly worship God in song and edify one another depends to a great degree on the man who leads the songs.

2. Song leaders should know the importance of careful song selection. The words of a song are more important than the music. We understand that what a preacher says is far more important than how eloquently or haltingly he may say it, and the same is true of songs. Good music enhances the words, but the words determine whether God is truly praised or whether the saints teach and admonish one another effectively. This is one thing the song leader alone determines. The congregation has no choice but to accept his selections. This being true, much thought should be given to the selections for each service. It is good that songs of praise and teaching be included. Care should also be given to singing a variety of songs, not the same ones each time a leader leads; keeping a record of songs led is a good practice. And above all, sentiments of the songs must be scriptural; it is as serious to sing error as to preach error.

3. Song leaders should know how to pitch and set the proper tempo of a song. Again, it is hard for a congregation to worship if a song is too high or low, or too fast or slow. Such variations from what is proper are distracting and difficult to overcome. If a man does not know how to do this properly, there is usually someone in the congregation who knows music well enough to teach him. If he is not willing to make the effort to learn how to lead correctly, he has no right to expect to lead at all. Not every man can lead singing, and if one cannot learn to do so he should just acknowledge that fact and exercise what talents he does have for the glory of God.

4. Song leaders should know the importance of specific preparation. All song leaders will lead more effectively if they have spent time selecting their songs and practicing them. Marginally qualified leaders need to be sure they know a song and can pitch it. One brother we knew, who had to lead because no one else could do it, would telephone an experienced song leader on Saturday nights and go over his songs for the Lord's Day to be sure he had them correct. Even the most qualified leaders need to look through songs in advance. The proper tempo of a song is determined by its message and a good leader thinks through the words in advance to determine how it should be led. This helps him decide what stanzas to lead, and increases his understanding of the message of the song so he can help the congregation to sing with understanding. Being familiar with the words will also allow him to look at the audience rather than having his head buried in a book.

Even more than what the congregation wishes, a song leader must be concerned about what God wants him to know. He leads for God's glory, not his own. This awareness will help him lead the congregation not simply in singing, but in worship. (SewellHall@aol.com)

Are You Blind?
by C. A. Burcham

Satan tries to make us blind. His devices come in various disguises. That is; he uses many tools in his efforts to make us follow his dictates blindly. (2 pet. 1:8-9) Following are some examples of the tools he uses:

Pride caused the Syrian general, Naaman, to reject the command to dip seven times in Jordan to cleanse his leprosy. (See: 2 Kings 5:1-13)

Covetousness was the sin of Balaam that caused him not to see the tragedy caused by a bribe. (See: Jude 11)

Self-Will made King Saul blind to the price and practice of presumption. (See: 1 Samuel 15:22)

Fleshly Appetite was the tool that blinded Esau and caused the selling of his birthright for a temporal meal which is only for a season. (See: Hebrews 12:16-17)

The Sensuous Appeal of Enticing Women was the weapon used to finally and literally put out the eyes of Samson and send him to grind in a Philistine mill. (See: Judges 16)

Human Traditions and Creeds blinded Jerusalem to the fact that Christ fulfilled the Scriptures relating to the coming of the Messiah; hence they could not see the true blessings He brought. (See: Matthew 23:37-39; Mark 7:7; Luke 22:66-71)

Self-Righteousness was the weapon used to blind the Pharisee to his own corruption , and the virtuous conduct of the Publican. (See: Luke 18:11-12)

Worldly Riches and Possessions blacked out the possibilities of the rich young ruler seeing the greater value of an eternal crown of life. (See: Luke 18:23)

Prejudice prevented the Pharisee rulers from seeing the real reason for the Lord’s mission. Their vision had been dimmed by their own deception. (See: John 7:47)

Love of this Present World caused Demas to be blinded and led away from Paul and a faithful life of service. (See: 2 Timothy 4:10)

Are you and I sure we will not let Satan blind us to truth and righteousness? Many so-called human characteristics are nothing more than Satan’s tricks that lead us away from faithful service to the Lord and deceive us into thinking that we will inherit heaven anyway.