CONCERT OR CAMPFIRE ? OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO CONGREGATIONAL KEY CHOICE | Grant Norsworthy
photo : Eduardo Soares “ Unsplash ”
Does your congregation sing ?
Are you happy with their volume and passion ?
Do you think they could or should participate more in sung worship ?
Read on …
There are many reasons why a regular Sunday morning ( or any other time ) church congregation will struggle - or even resist - participating in sung worship . Many of the reasons , I have found , are due to servant-hearted , well-meaning worshipping singers and instrumentalists on the platform unintentionally making “ concert-like ” choices that actually make it more difficult for Jack and Jill congregant to sing along .
The leading team want their congregation to sing - to participate in sung worship - but often don ’ t recognize the “ don ’ t sing - listen to us ” signals they ’ re sending .
Those who lead their congregation in sung worship often subconsciously or even unconsciously imitate the “ worship artists ” who inspire us and whose songs we are covering . But while the vocal , instrumental , and technical choices of Bethel , Elevation , Hillsong , Soul Survivor and the like may work well in their context , they may not work in ours .
While definitely intended as sincere expressions of worship to God through songs , the pro recording artists ’ renditions that we find on YouTube , Spotify , SongSelect or on Christian radio lean towards making a great listening experience . In my opinion , they tend to be more “ concert ” performance and less “ campfire ” singalong .
Those of us who are not “ celebrity ” recording artist “ worship leaders ” - finding ourselves serving in the trenches of week-in , week-out Sunday sung worship for a regular church - will probably need to make some intentional and significant modifications to the songs so that every member of our congregation feels warmly invited to join in . Our sound might lean a little ( or maybe a lot ) more towards “ campfire ” than the sound that is professionally produced by the pro artists that influence us : The worshipping artists that we might find on the cover of [ WM ].
Perhaps the single most significant modification is with key choice for songs . If we want to encourage and increase the vocal participation of our congregation , we will choose keys for songs so that each songs ’ vocal melody register falls within a comfortable range for as many members of our congregation as possible . The widely accepted register for this is from C3 to C4 for men and C4 to C5 for women and children . There will actually be 2 melody lines - a lower “ male ” melody line and a higher “ female ” melody line - an octave apart . This congregational register is known as “ C to shining C ”.
But “ C to shining C ” has fallen out of favor in recent years . Today , this is generally not the approach used when selecting keys for songs ! Most tend to choose a key for a song as close to the original artist ’ s version as possible and / or where their lead singer ( often called a “ worship leader ”) feels the most comfortable about their vocal performance .
Certainly , where the lead singer gives their best performance is the approach to song key choice modelled to us by today ’ s most popular