A Guide

When I'm choosing songs for worship, this is what I do if I'm feeling methodical:

1. Read the readings and note the phrases and concepts that jump out at me.

2. Check the blog (and my memory) to see if any songs fit immediately with those ideas.

3. Meet with the rest of the team planning worship, especially the person preaching the sermon and work out the key themes for the service.

4. Do any of my "immediate fit" songs still fit? If yes, then include. If no, just sing them to myself for the rest of the week.

5. Check the blog to look again for obvious fits for the rest of the theme.... If I get to 8 songs, then stop. That's probably enough for a short list.

6. Work out where the songs might fit. Our service has some pretty standard spots for songs.
An opening song should be easy to sing, and usually joyful (although sometimes you might want something quieter). The children's song should also be familiar, or one that you are willing to teach to the kids (or get someone to teach!). Maybe there's a clear choice for the end of the service, with themes of going out into the world. Maybe there's a clear choice to allow reflection or response after the sermon. Maybe a song will fit well with confession or intercessions. Maybe I'm left with some gaps...

7. Fill the gaps: choose another song from the blog, or a congregational favourite. Not every song needs to fit with the readings; some themes are universal.

8. Once I've got to a rough order of where the songs will fit, I check for balance.
Do the songs reflect a global faith? Are there enough familiar tunes? Is there enough joy? Is there time for quiet reflection? Are there just way too many words?

Sometimes the answers to these will depend on the style of the rest of the service; it is unlikely that there'll be "something for everyone" in every service, and sometimes that's not the point, but I try to get a fairly broad mix.

9. Shuffle songs as needed, and then stop when done. Let go of the need for it to be perfect.