The issue of song interpretation was at the forefront of my mind during choir rehearsal last night as I looked at Chief Musician Ronald (according to the boss) direct the choir in song and applying the principles we talked about. He is really so much fun. We danced and sang and had a T.I.M.E in the Lord, leaving after an energetic workout. I was first informed about Min Joeworn being a Chief Musician around the time of Bishop Taylor’s ordination, but the information about Ronald and Craig came later (instructors for song). We miss and love Craig and Greg.
It seems that chief musicians come in threes (and this struck me when I remembered my brother, Lyndon and Simeon). The number may be significant, although I do believe that more than this total can be appointed since the Old Testament showed that prophets prophesied in groups. Additionally one should not wear out a few individuals in a thriving church of thousands. These key three can also function to equip the others under the leadership of the man of God, just as Samuel had the school of the prophets. Thanks ministers, for the offer to choir members to learn under you.
I was getting some interpretations for that song ‘with outstretched hands” and I forsee that collaboration on interpretation and expression of songs can take place in the future that will blow us all away, not forgetting that God is not static and enjoys diversity of expression. I hope that my skills as a vocal coach will be helpful. A few general principles related to song interpretation are as follows:
  • the musicians and singers (worship team, choir, concert fans, gospel bands, congregation etc) understand the purpose for which the song was written, the setting,
  • know who the song is to be sung to
  • mood or feeling of the song
  • and subsequently the accompanying vocal and physical expressions.

I have always wondered why, for example, many praise dancers on teams dance beautifully to choreographed music, but cannot use the same expressive dance in corporate worship. Why is that? Why is it that leaders, pastors, prophets, elders etc stand to attention, apparently bored, during the singing of the songs of the Lord? Why is it that only a few people seem to enjoy the presence of the Lord when He is manifested?

Think of this example. I am not a basketball fan, but I seem to remember that Magic Johnson was the whiz kid of basketball in his day (did he get to the Hall of Fame?). If I see him in the streets, I may not even know him or acknowledge him unless someone points him out (I think he is very tall and handsome). Fans, however, would rush up screaming and yelling, (security would say “back up) begging for photographs, autographs etc. You get the idea?
We worship claiming that we know the One to whom we are singing and that we know what we are singing about, but some people only know the letter (words) but not the spirit of the song , which brings life to the song. This is why we need spiritual revelation about God and who He is (by His word and by personal experience like Paul on the road to Damascus), because worship proceeds out of the spirit (John 4:24).
God is trying to tell us something about Himself in song, because He wants us to identify with Him. If you try to sing without that spiritual connection as we said yesterday, you will seriously and hopelessly miss the point. Let’s use the song (the initial words evade me now) but I remember
“so with outstretched hands, in total praise, we lift our voice to say, you’re all that, you’re awesome. You are an awesome God”.
I’m not sure what particular factors prompted the writer of this song, but it appears that he or she wanted to express the magnitude of God’s greatness. As His children we would show fear or respect, while His enemies would tremble in fright. This song could easily have been sung by Moses and the children of Israel after their deliverance at the Red Sea. If Moses had written this song, he would have been thinking about the manifestation of God’s power in Egypt (the magicians could only mimic 20% of the plagues) and the abject fear of death that struck Pharaoh and his people after the firstborn were killed. On hearing of these deeds (especially that of the Red Sea), the heathen (except for Amalek) got so scared that they allowed Israel to pass.
Don’t mention the awesome demonstration of His presence at Sinai – thunder, smoke, lightenings, clouds and fire (Ex 19: 9-16). If you are worshipping in front of the throne (which is where you should dwell), you will not even see a bodily shape (just One who sits on the throne – Rev 4:2) and hear lightenings, thunder and voices (Rev 4:5). This revelation implies that God brought down his throne to Moses in the mountain.
Can’t He bring down His throne to us since He dwells in the praises of His people (Ps 22:3)? What do we need the throne for as a church, aschoir members and/or singers? Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and other prophets had their own personal revelation of God’s throne room. If you saw it live, would you stand there immune to the effects of His presence? Would you experience some emotion? What would you do? If you are singing a joyful song in front of the throne, would you just clap in a disinterested manner and look bored? More to come