“What you do between the songs are as important as the songs themselves.”
This advice was given to me about 10 years ago from an influential worship leader. It may be a bit overstated, but often times worship leaders give little thought to the transitions. That is, until the transitions come.
For some reason, I am hyper-sensitive to transitions. Maybe that is because when a transition goes bad, I feel yanked out my prayer and worship. All of a sudden, the drastic change calls attention to itself and the worship flow takes a jolt.
I have seen it done poorly and done it poorly myself. It’s a bad feeling to come to the end of a song and realize the coming transition is going to taste like a swig of lemonade after a bowl of ice cream. Here are some ideas on a few things to do between songs.
- Pray. Sometimes I will pray along the lines of where I sense God has been taking us. For example, say the teaching has been on forgiveness, we are ending the hymn “Wonderful Cross” and transitioning into “Oh Lead Me” (by Delirious). I may say something like “God, thanks for the reminder tonight of our forgiveness. Thank you for the beautiful and disturbing cross. God, we ask you to forgive us and again say that we choose to follow you, the forgiving one.” As I prayed this, I might be playing the transition musically. I do not script my prayers. I prefer them to come in the moment. Although I use them as a transition, I speak them from the heart. If the only reason I pray is to transition, I just shut my mouth. It can get dangerous if you use prayer for what it is not intended for. This is a tricky one.
- Read Scripture. Scripture is a great way to transition. If I am going from the key of D to Bb, I may end the song and have a band member read scripture. Again, the scripture would fit the flow and the theme.
- Drum transition. Once we are in a more aggressive part of our worship set, we may put a big ending on a song. As the chord dies out, the drummer would start the beat of the next song. The band comes in after the drummer lays down a couple of measures. In another option, the drummer clicks a count and the entire band comes in. Do this at the right place in the set and it works well. Do it at the wrong time and you will want to crawl into a hole.
- Call for silence. There are times when I sense that we need some quiet time. I simply say “let’s be quiet for a moment.” When I feel it is appropriate, I will begin the next song, or cue the musician who is to start it.
- Don’t stop. There are a few song combinations that will flow into each other almost seamlessly. An example would be “Facedown” and “O Sacred King,” both by Matt Redman. While “Facedown” starts in Em, it ends with a G and C vamp- the same as the into of “O Sacred King.”
- One instrument transition. There are times when I tell the band to end the song and I will transition. I take the key and rhythm from the song we ended and slowly change it to the intro of the next song. Sometimes our keyboard player will do this as well.
I always try to make the entire set flow as smooth as possible. The better I have done at planning the worship set, the easier the transitions. Check out Putting Together a Song list for more details on getting the set to flow.
These are a few ideas for transitions. If you have any others, chime in!!
[tags] worship, worship leading, transitions, Matt Redman, Wonderful Cross, Facedown, O Sacred King, Delirious, Oh Lead Me, guitar, drums, silence, scripture, prayer[/tags]