In a previous post, I described the idea of a church’s AV system being the “instrument” that the AV technician plays for the glory of God during the worship service. Here’s another idea of something technical that can be thought of that way.
On a few occasions, I’ve been involved with events in which worship songs were to be played but there were no musicians to play them and often, there was no one to project the words on a screen. In order to help out people in these events, I started making DVDs with worship music as background to video of the lyrics, suitable for being projected. By constructing the video clip appropriately, transitions are timed with the music and the sequence runs perfectly every time.
While one could probably use popular versions of the songs, I opted to use “trax” versions, typically used for people who are performing the songs in public. These can be bought inexpensively with just background vocals, or in a demo version with a lead singer. Using a combination of such versions gives flexibility in mixing the final result, and can allow for such variations as split-track recordings or other more sophisticated presentations. In either case, the music is essentially the same as a standard worship song but without the big-name artist.
I’ve used this technique in VBS when the worship time needed music played but no technicians were available, during standard church worship services when the praise team wasn’t available, and as a starting point for small group Bible studies in which the group did not include any musicians.
The technique seems to work fairly well. In the small group, volume can be turned up enough so that everyone feels comfortable singing. I may experiment with mixing in surround sound, so that the background vocals come out the rear speakers, enhancing the perception of being in a crowd. The goal is to make people comfortable enough singing out loud that they can focus on the music and words being sung.
The goal in all these cases is to facilitate worship by providing quality music and consistent words, similar to what’s done in a standard service but without requiring extra people. Although this may seem artificial, I’ve come to see it as just another type of instrument. Since real praise and worship comes from the heart anyway, this device simply serves to facilitate such.
Given that worship is really a spiritual activity, as we come to know God better and better, we can reflect what we know in our worship. In this way, things we have learned intellectually become spiritually apprehended as we express them from the heart. One way to do this is by including key Scripture passages with the lyrics, so the Word speaks to us about the things we are singing. Many songs have strong spiritual or theological statements that can be highlighted with inclusion of Scripture. It is important to do this in a way that does not interfere with the singing itself, but done correctly, I think this technique can enhance the spiritual. Singing truths as part of worship helps us know them spiritually in ways that go beyond intellectual.1
Constructed properly, my hope is that this “instrument” can open up new options for worship that might not otherwise exist, and even allow worship to be an expression of truths that the Word has placed in our hearts and minds.
1 I owe these insights to Dr. Dan Christensen, during a class he taught at Morning Star Church.