Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of rehearsing! Take last night’s rehearsal for example:
Four team members were absent—as was the sound man—which could have been an excuse to call it off; BUT the Holy Spirit was there. The rehearsal opened with a joyous, fervent prayer led by the oldest team member, who recently was given a cancer diagnosis.
Then we’re off and running through Sunday’s songlist. There was disagreement about some of the key choices that quickly faded into agreement once “Let There Be Glory and Honor and Praises” (starting in the key of F# modulating to the key of G the third time through) proved easier than expected. Everyone agreed that “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” gets the point across better when done as a march instead of a ballad.
Rough spots had to be ironed out, most of which were minor—through picayune details can become major distractions—like lyrics on the leadsheet not matching the lyrics on the singers’ words-only pages. And there were issues unique to each person—like what makes up a D#m7 chord, or whether a Roland synth patch comprised of Dolce Strings + Stage Rhodes sustains too long on “How Great Is Our God”.
Some things became apparent only after a complete run-through, like the beautiful way the Spirit flowed through the lyrics, tempos, keys and mood leading from one song to the next. Culminating the service with Peter Scholtes’ “Holy Holy Holy Lord” seemed to say it all. After that, we sat there in silence for a moment to re-enter the here-and-now after taking a voyage into the heavenlies.
We plunged into the new song to be introduced next week, “Good Good Father.” Yikes! It didn’t sound anything like Chris Tomlin’s version! (Well, how CAN it with just accordion, piano, synthesizer and four ladies singing in a key a major third lower than the Tomlin’s version, minus the wonderful guitar strumming that propels the song in the recorded version?) We limped through, making modifications here and there, correcting a typo in the lyrics and trying to get the rhythm right on the triplicates—“it’s Who you are” and “it’s who I am—in the Chorus.
So then the rehearsal ended; we survived with body and soul intact, still loving each other and loving Jesus even more for what He’s done for us and for inviting us to do what we love to do—sing and play instruments—leading His people in worship.
Sometimes tedious and sometimes glorious, rehearsing is always worth the effort; it provides the best opportunity available to work out details that, left unattended, could create awkward moments in a worship service. More than that, rehearsing inspires, edifies and promotes spiritual growth when entered into as a creative worship experience in its own right.
Ray Andrews currently serves as senior pastor of Romans Eight Church in Fort Worth, Texas, after having been music pastor there for 30 years. His involvement with music ministry spans five decades in many areas, such as composing, arranging, recording, vocal and instrumental performance and teaching. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.