My experiences of house churching (yes, I made it verb there) have revealed something lacking when it comes to music in this age.
Contemporary worship songs are almost entirely written for performance, not for groups of various sizes to sing with or without skilled musicians. So we have a generation of Christians who do not have a shared hymnal, if you will. Have you ever been in a social setting where someone could just start singing a hymn or chorus, and others would join in (and even harmonize) without any powerpoints or song books? It seems like those experiences are fewer and farther between. We are forgetting how to really sing together!
Our house church has just undertaken an effort to rediscover some of the choruses and scripture songs from the 70's and 80's and before - mainly because you have to go back that far to find songs that were written to be remembered and sung anywhere. They often include rounds and echo's that create harmonies even from the musically challenged. We have no guitars or instruments other than one small hand drum to keep us in rhythm. There is almost a look of surprise when we finish singing a song at how good it felt and sounded for such amateur singers to sing together.
Anyone else out there seeing this challenge and addressing it?
Others are definitely seeing this challenge. My wife and I were worship leaders in a small church in the 70's to the 90's and most every song we sang was suitable for small groups. Today if we are to try those songs, no one would know them.
As a musician I appreciate the newer music, but agree that the older stuff was much better for home meetings. I would definitely enjoy what you are doing. Now I feel challenged to teach the older songs to our home bible study group. In another group we have been a part of the children regularly requested Rich Mullen choruses like Step by Step. Maybe it is worth a try.
I do enjoy and appreciate much of the newer music if it can be led and performed by talented musicians and strong singers with high range. That's the setting it's written for. But trust me - without that (which may be where many home groups find themselves), it's very awkward and a little discouraging to try them.
We do occasionally sing along with the official YouTube videos of newer songs with lyrics - and cast it to the TV in the home where we meet. We still struggle with range, complexity, etc. - and we don't like just turning up the volume to drown ourselves out. It's also not nearly the same as live.
I keep looking for a resurgence of song writing for small groups. Perhaps this forum and others can encourage that.
It is difficult to follow many of the newer songs in their original keys. I was going to suggest a couple of recent songs, like 10,000 Reasons, and He Knows My Name. We found the go well with small groups, but we have guitar players.
Only if you have to rely on youtube videos or recordings you have to deal with the high ranges of the singers. Sometimes there are different performances in differing keys that might help. Maybe there are performance recordings offered in a key that is easier for the group.
We sang many of the simple songs, originally the maranantha praise songs, then a few of the easier songs were adapted. The best part was when we knew a melody and someone would put our own words to it and sing. These songs became much more meaningful, or we added verses to our favorites. And I enjoyed the groups better when we sang acapella. It does help to have a few who can carry a tune.
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