A worship leader makes lots of decisions in any given service. Most of these decisions work out just fine or are of so little consequence that no one would notice. But every once in a while a worship leader–me, in this particular instance–makes a decision so disastrously miscalculated that only a spectacular crash and/or burn can follow.
Such was the case on Thanksgiving Day.
With my trusty Joyful Noise Orchestra by my side, I felt I could rule the world–or at the very least get through the Thanksgiving Day worship service with skill and panache. Indeed we did. As my sense of confidence grew, I decided to live on the edge and create an antiphonal effect between the orchestra and congregation on the hymn “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above.”
This was not some arbitrary decision to heap on the musical fru fru. No, the hymn was coming out of the confession and assurance, so it was acting as a Gloria of sorts. I wanted to highlight the Gloria aspect of the hymn by having the congregation sing the last phrase, “to God all praise and glory!” a cappella. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I do think about little details like this.)
It was a swell idea in theory, but I severely misjudged how jarring that edge between full orchestra and a cappella congregation would feel. Don’t get me wrong–it was an exciting moment. Exciting like jumping off a cliff. To give you a glimpse into what a bad liturgical decisions feels like from the worship leader’s point of view, I present to you “The Thanksgiving Day Train Wreck of 2010.”