The worship leaders from Nigeria and West Africa ICOC churches had a virtual conference recently and asked me to share about “The pivotal role of technology in an effective worship,” as well as some general teaching about the challenges of leading the church in worship during a global pandemic and social distancing scenario. I weave a couple songs in here as well. And walk you through how we make “virtual choir” videos.
I thought I would share it with you as well, in case it is helpful for your ministry or worship team.
Three things I cover in this video with regard to this topic:
How can we lead worship that is….
– All for God
– Grounded in your strengths
– Conquering new territory
We’ve been streaming live Sunday services out of my garage for a while now, but still use produced videos of songs here and there. It’s been a good way to include some singers who haven’t been able to be here in person. Lindsay has a couple little kids and hasn’t been able to join us, but I made a track and asked her to add all the parts. This is a great worship song by my friend Geoff Fawcett. Words have new meaning in our present context. Hope it ministers to you and feel free to use it for your streaming worship service. By the way I’ll also post an older recording of this song I made many years ago below.
Let the Light Shine Down – version I recorded back in 2008
My friend Zoe Tolton and I have done many songs together through the years (see him here rapping on one of my tunes). He has been working on putting together some music for a worship midweek and asked if I had a version of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” My mom is a trained opera singer and used to sing a powerful and moving version of this song, so it always reminds me of her. When I think about how old this song is (dating back to the civil war and perhaps beyond, many variations), I think of the many struggles different Christians have experienced through the ages, and the comfort these words may have brought them. Times can be tough, but “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
A’wandering through this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil, or danger
In that bright land to which I go
I’m going there to see my Savior
I’m going there no more to roam
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home
I know dark clouds will gather ’round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But beauteous fields lie just before me
Where souls redeemed, their vigil keep
We had guest speaker Tony Fernandez (from Broward County FL) preach for us yesterday. He gave an inspiring lesson from Jesus’ short story of the yeast and the dough (Matt 13:33). At the climax of his lesson, as he spoke about how small slice of the kingdom can change the whole world:
You end the suffering by being a shoulder for people to cry on
You end crime by teaching people the ways of Jesus
You bring peace by becoming a peacemaker in a world of hurt
You show justice by admitting your own need for repentance
You rush into a world and become leaven…YOU CHANGE IT from the inside out.
– Tony Fernandez
It was really cool lesson thinking about the ways that small things can add up to big things that bring real change in the world. Reminded me of a song I wrote a couple years ago I thought I’d share today called “Spark Become a Fire.” It’s one of my “Ties to the Light” songs — these are songs that aren’t necessarily the ones that I write for my church but rather songs that are designed to hopefully find uses outside the circle of God’s people and bring a bit of light to wherever they end up. I have more of these songs to release soon, and I need to make more music videos to get the songs out there. [By the way if you are reading this and you want to support these songs and you have any idea for a music video for one of the songs on this album –like make one yourself or some idea, please comment below or message me.]
I love the idea that we can bring peace and justice to whatever situation we’re in because of the love and example of Jesus, and the working of the Holy Spirit. I have a hopeful view of the future. Like Martin Luther King said (quoting nineteenth-century abolitionist Theodore Parker), “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” I want to help with that in any way I can.
It’s been a strange, unique, unprecedented time for the body of Christ weekly gathering around the Table in fellowship and Communion in a “virtual way.” Some have been using Zoom, others using live stream or simply premiering a video. Thank God for these tool
s, but for those who are still not able to meet in person I know it is really getting old and we so miss being together. Personally it has been a blessing to be able to produce and stream a worship service weekly from out of our garage “studio” many months now, with a small team of about 10 or so, and join in Communion together. We just upgraded to adding one small group at a time in our alley behind the garage, so that was great yesterday to have a few more people join us. I have heard this streaming worship service has been a lifeline and weekly highlight for disciples quarantining in their homes. Through whatever medium we are using, what must remain central is why we gather on the Lord’s Day: to remember Jesus.
A year or two ago I begin thinking that we needed more Communion songs that directly reflect on the body and blood of Christ. There some great old hymns that do this, but not as many new songs (Jesus Messiah is a good example of a newer one). As I had been ruminating on this, one morning this song just popped into my head –fully formed! All at once! I seriously wrote it in about 10 min. Those usually turn out to be the best congregational songs, because I feel like they are gifts from the Holy Spirit. We have enjoyed singing this song in my congregation (here’s a video of introducing it), and I plan to release a finalized version of this song for an upcoming worship album, but for now, here are resources if you’d like to use this song with your team. (I’ve been having trouble making time to finish the new album with all of the extra editing and media work making videos and prepping media for our weekly services!)
I hope this song blesses your Communion Fellowship!
ONLY IN THE CROSS
Only in the cross
Can I be set free
Only by your body
Given up for me
Only in the blood
Falling from your hands
Only in the cross
We begin again
We take this bread
As we gather here
We remember you
We take this cup
And commit our souls
The covenant made new
We the church
Worship you alone
You our God and King
We serve and witness
All you’ve done
Praises we will sing
“It is finished!”
Was your cry
You’re coming back
Now in heaven
Forever you will reign
Glory – Glory!
Happy Monday morning, friends! Today I’m sharing a new lyric video of an old song of mine called “By Faith.” It’s based on the classic chapter in Hebrews 11 chronicling our spiritual ancestors and their faithful actions and lives. I wrote the song for an ILC (International Leadership Conference) with this title, many years ago, up in Seattle. I was new in the ministry and it was surreal for me being surrounded by so many amazing leaders from among our family of churches I had grown up admiring and being so inspired by. I felt like David, “who am I and what is my family you have brought me this far?” (2 Sam 7:18). I get to be a disciple of Jesus, come from a family of disciples, be surrounded by great faithful people, get to serve in the ministry amongst so many amazing and faithful leaders. At the time it was a moment of crisis, reflection, repentance, and renewed vision in our churches (as well as division and conflict) — in some ways not unlike we are dealing with at present in our nation. It was inspiring to me to remember the spiritual battle is not ours, but the Lord’s, and he will lead and deliver us. On this day, in the midst of the crises we now face as believers, I remember again the men and women of faith who have gone before us, commended by God… we’re on our way, but we’re not there yet!
[By the way, if you think this song is long now, with four verses, my first draft had eight! There was so much great content to pull from in this chapter of the Bible. I had to combine a few things and omit some of the stories I had chosen to get the song down to four verses.]
Hey guys, happy Monday! In case you didn’t catch it, a little over a week ago we broadcasted a live concert of my original worship songs as a fundraiser for Better Haiti. They approached me about doing it a month or two ago, after seeing the set up we have in my garage for our regular Sunday services. They also requested all the songs — which ended up being pretty cool. If I had chosen the set list, I probably would have have chosen a bunch of the new songs I’m currently working on or haven’t released yet. But having them pick the set list made the concert end up being kind of a capstone event for the songwriting contributions I’ve made for the church over the last 20+ years (wow, that’s a long time). The earliest of these songs (I Need Your Love, Be with Me Lord) were actually written that long ago! It was also cool to put the concert together with just me and my family and a few good friends from our little local ministry who help me out on our Sunday streams. The concert ended up a bit better quality than our regular Sunday services which we do totally live (other than “virtual choir” videos which we use to include more worship team members during quarantine). For the concert, we prerecorded things and then I spent the week mixing and mastering the audio so it sounded as good as I could make it, given our live performance setting in my garage.
If you haven’t done so, please take a little time and enjoy the hour and 1/2 concert. And say a prayer or make a donation for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. It was a lot of work to put this together, and the culmination of half my lifetime in some ways, so I hope many of you can enjoy it.
0:00:00 Intro – Daniel Albert
0:02:37 ♪ Home in Heaven
0:06:20 ♪ Lead Me to the Rock
0:10:08 ♪ Shadow of Your Wings
0:13:35 ♪ Anchor for the Soul
0:18:30 Talking About Fundraiser
0:20:50 Introducing the Band
0:21:54 ♪ I Need Your Love
0:26:48 ♪ The Spirit’s Fire
0:32:10 ♪ Great Among the Nations
0:36:40 ♪ Breakthrough
0:43:19 ♪ A Faithful Witness
0:47:51 Talking About Fundraiser – Daniel
0:49:35 Better Haiti Presentation – Daniel
0:54:29 Talking about fundraiser – Brian
0:54:55 My other music work
0:56:24 Intro Worship/Prayer
0:59:00 ♪ The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength
1:04:46 ♪ Praise the Lord O My Soul
1:09:51 ♪ Rejoice (I Will Lift My Voice)
1:14:20 ♪ Be with Me Lord
1:17:58 Intro Last Song
1:18:40 ♪ Praises Heard Around the World
1:21:45 Closing – Daniel
Hey guys, just a quick post today — gonna try to get back to quick posts sharing songs on Mondays. Read Psalm 27 this morning and it really ministered to me during times when there is so much I can fear. Reminded me of my friend Geoff’s song, written based on this Psalm. Here it is!
By the way, this is a cool congregational song to have four-part singing — if you can make a video with all four parts, or if your church is back to all singing together again. For lyrics and sheet music visit https://gfawcettmusic.com/hymns
There are things God is teaching us right now for sure. Some of what we might tend to think the church is have been stripped away. The church is not a building (can’t rent a space right now or use a building if you own one). It’s not an event (not even a YouTube livestream). It’s a community. A fellowship. A family. As a worship leader, I really miss the worshipful voice of that family! We’ve been making virtual videos. Lately we’ve been streaming a worship service out of my garage all live every Sunday, with me and a couple other “masked singers” (well, we take the masks off when we sing). But I’m not really a natural performer — I’m a song leader. I need to hear the church singing! [Years ago I only started making YouTube videos in order to share my songs (like this one) with the church for their collective voice.]
We were talking yesterday about this and how much we miss being all together to sing, talking about how recordings from our former services often don’t even capture the voice of the church, and I was reminded of these recordings and thought I would share them again. Back in 2016 some church leaders got together for some meetings, I got to lead them in worship, and I thought I might as well record it. The digital recorder I was using was a new piece of technology to me and I accidentally recorded through its internal microphones in the back of the room instead of the cables that connected it to the sound board. The cool thing is really captured the collective voice of everybody singing, and it became one of my favorite recorded memories –I love listening back to everybody singing.
Here is the original post with the recordings – give it a listen if you’re missing the voice of the church singing like I am! For now I’m trying to learn to sing softer, to quiet my soul, yet to worship deeper. I’ll learn what I can from thim time. But I can’t wait till we can all be together and sing again.
LISTEN!… SINGING OF THE SOUTHWEST MINISTERS
I have written before about how to play swing 16ths. This morning I’ll talk a bit about swing 8ths and share an example. This isn’t just for music nerds, it’s good practice for anyone who plays an instrument to learn how to play different grooves, and a good example of how a different vibe can give a worship song a totally new expression. My daughter plays ukulele and sings (please stream her album, it’s so fun). Her natural style is to play swing 8th notes, in many of the songs she writes. She also interprets standard worship tunes with this vibe which is really cool. So for the Hillsong classic “Came to My Rescue”( which is almost defined by how straight the eighth notes are), you can see in the video below how different it is when you swing the eighth notes. (For the record, she learned the original groove and was willing to play it that way but I loved her interpretation, just to give it a new feel–faster tempo and with swing 8ths instead of straight 8ths). Here is the original. Her version is below.
Also I’ll just add that “Came to My Rescue” is such an awesome song that has stood the test of time so well. So it was one of the songs the teens chose to sing for their teen-led service a couple weeks ago (along with two of my songs–I felt honored).
Give it a try, playing different songs with different grooves! As a worship tune songwriter myself, I’ll say I love hearing new interpretations of my songs! There’s no one “right way” to play/sing them!