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What is the GQ of Our Worship Songs?
Worship songs are an area of vastly differing opinions. Evaluating what works and what doesn’t can be very subjective. One sentiment I hear and read all the time is ‘let’s take the focus off of us, or I, or me, and put it on God, where it belongs.’ In many ways, this is a push back on the effects of a ‘generation me’ culture. But, to figure out why a song leaves this impression is not as easy as it sounds.
As a career software engineer who is also a worship songwriter, I try to allow my analytical side to influence what I do musically. When I am songwriting or considering songs for my set list or recording projects, I like to think in terms of an analytical measure of a song I call the God Quotient (or GQ for short). GQ is a way to look at a song and try to evaluate its real focus.
Each song we use for corporate worship has a certain amount of creative energy expended to write it, and a focus it brings to the congregation. It is useful to examine where the creative energy of a song is strongest. Assuming a song is well written, theologically sound and grounded in Biblical truth, I like to then evaluate a song along several scales to look at its GQ.
I look at each lyric, especially focusing on the pronouns that describe me, or us, but also the ones that describe God. Repeated lyrics get more weighting. I also look at where the song has its strongest musical moments (typically the chorus and bridge) and what those are saying. Here are some contrasts I typically draw:
Feeling versus Fealty
This one is probably the most controversial, because we like to write and sing from the heart. Many worship songs spend a lot of creative energy on how we feel.
“I love to bring You praise”
“I eagerly run toward You”
“I feel liberated”
“Your Spirit moves me”
These are good sentiments that express our heart toward God, but what we hear way less of is our duty toward God, our obligation toward God, our obedient response to God.
“I willingly keep Your commands”
“I listen for Your voice”
“I will love the poor because You do”
“I will glorify You in everything”
I judge a songs GQ score higher if it can offer a response that urges me toward action and not only toward emotion, because God is a God of action and we are His hands and feet to carry it out.
Problem versus Provision
We expend vast creative energy describing our problems.
“In the deepest, darkest night”
“When the storm is rolling in”
“When I am in the valley and I cannot go on”
The Psalms do a lot of this. We need to express our need to God, but His provision is always greater than our need. How much creative energy do our songs bring to describing His provision?
“Your sufficiency is infinitely greater than my fear”
“Your willing death overcame all of sin’s pain”
“You faced the cross because I was a sinner and was lost”
“Your Heaven is my real, amazing home”
A songs GQ is higher if its creative energy is spent more on who He is and what He provides, and less on our need.
Response versus Renown
This is primarily focused on the actions of a song – its verbs. What are they telling us? Are they all about our response?
“I joyfully lift You higher”
“Our earnest praise rises to You”
“I worship You humbly”
All of these things are great attributes of our response, and they are necessary. But what about the attributes of Him, and who He is?
“You are infinite”
“You are eternal”
“You created everything”
“You rescued Your people”
“You sacrificed everything to save us”
When a song gives Him the renown He is due its GQ is higher.
Of course, these are not hard and fast rules. Some low GQ songs are great. Many Psalms are low GQ.
However, if the majority of our set list consistently rates low on the GQ scale, you can probably be sure the worship music will generate the kind of comments I began the article with. The songs we sing will be ‘me’ focused, and we will not impart as many great treasures from His Word as we might otherwise. We should strive for, at a minimum, a balanced GQ in every song, and it never hurts to have a high GQ. But low GQ can be a problem.
Why is this important?
Why not just worship and leave this kind of analysis aside? For me, anyway, it is simple. God wants to speak His truth into our congregations, and our worship music is one vehicle for that. He wants to see His bride on fire for who He is, what He wants to do. He wants to see His truth, as He gave us in His Holy, inspired Word, made manifest, so that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess who He is, hopefully now, before it is too late.
If worship music is to be a part of His Bride’s mission, then its focus should be where it belongs – on Him.
This article by Mark Snyder was originally posted at TheWorshipCommunity.com
Fans of Weekend Warrior Worship know Jeff McCullough well. As you know, Jeff’s Tree Hill Media studio in Escondido, California is where Weekend Warrior Worship’s sound on ‘Your Word’ was crafted. As we released the record, many people told us that, while they loved the music, they couldn’t quite grasp why we called it ‘Weekend Warrior Worship’, because our recordings and songwriting sounded as good as anything out there. When we explain that our songwriters are weekend warriors and not necessarily music industry veterans or well-known worship artists, people got it, but, as they say, if you have to explain it, you have lost the image battle.
In the spirit of matching the image we portray to our music, we have decided to launch Weekend Warrior Worship’s professional recording projects under a new name that gives credit where credit is due. Therefore we are naming our professional recording project ‘Tree Hill Collective’.
Now for the best part – new music! Tree Hill Collective has gone into the studio to record eight new tracks encompassing contributions from a total of seven songwriters. The plan is to launch a full-length CD in the next few weeks with these new efforts, plus the best from ‘Your Word’, all produced by Jeff McCullough and featuring many of the same artists plus a few new faces.
After recognizing the quality of our professional recordings and our contributions to the indie worship movement, our friends at AllAboutWorship.com decided to include three new tracks from our forthcoming release on their new All About Worship Collective, Volume 2. This record is a compendium of great indie and signed worship artists, many of whom you will know, such as:
- Rend Collective Experiment
- The City Harmonic
- Matt Papa
- All Son’s and Daughters
- Sovereign Grace Music
- …many more
We are proud to have our songs and recordings featured on this great project. Until April 10, 2012, you can download it for free on NoiseTrade here, and get the chord charts for our three songs plus all the others on the project here. As of Jan 11th, AAW Collective, Volume 2, was the #2 download on NoiseTrade, with over 1,500 downloads in the first day alone! Tree Hill Collective’s songs on this project are:
- O For a Thousand Tongues / Hallelujah (Mark Snyder, Jeff McCullough)
- We Shall Overcome (Kelly Puckett, Wisdom Moon)
- A Way to You (Timothy A. Hageland, Wisdom Moon)
Please follow the Tree Hill Collective as we take the next step on this journey. Our song values and commitment to providing the very best grass-roots worship resources to the church remain the same. Tree Hill Collective’s contact links are:
Many thanks to Wisdom Moon and Jeff McCullough for helping Weekend Warrior Worship take this next step in our journey.
WWW continues to make great progress on Christian Radio. Recently, Mark Snyder was featured in two radio interviews. After getting our first adds in Mark’s native Arizona, on KGPS in Kingman, Mark Snyder was interviewed for the stations artist spotlight. In this interview you can hear here, he discusses the history, mission, and future direction for Weekend Warrior Worship. Mark also gave an on-air interview for WFAR Radio, serving the Connecticut area.
We have also been busy sending out resource kits for giveaways for radio stations and other ministries. Our kits are making their way to pastors all over the country, particularly in smaller markets which are airing our music. If you would like some resource kits, please contact us and we will be happy to send them out.
To date. Weekend Warrior Worship’s first single “I Worship You Alone” is airing on 78 radio stations in 10 countries and many states and Canadian provinces. We have reached the top 3 in CRW’s independent christian radio charts in the AC and INSPO formats. Our second single, “I Choose to Praise You” is slated to begin its radio campaign in early 2012, though it has already been added in a few markets.
Thanks to everyone for getting the word out about Weekend Warrior Worship. Remember, if you want the music for free, it can be downloaded at NoiseTrade. Our mission is to increase access and to place no barriers between our music and the Church. What you can do to help is to share our music, write reviews for us on places such as ITunes, and give our resources to your church pastor if you think they will be useful to you.
We at Weekend Warrior Worship are humbled and honored to announce that our mission to bring the very best biblically based independent worship music to the church took a significant step forward with the addition of the music of Brad Eberly to the Weekend Warrior Worship catalog. Brad is the longtime worship leader at Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and he has written and recorded many great songs over the past 12 years on his 3 CDs. Brad has been gracious enough to allow Weekend Warrior Worship to offer the best of his worship music on our web site, Our song catalog now features a total of 15 worship songs. Brad’s has a special talent at making memorable melodies and lyrics that touch our hearts while revealing just what a great and awesome God we have. These songs address areas that the church really needs to be singing more about such as the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ, and the distinctiveness of our One true God. You will be blessed by Brad’s exceptional songwriting and performance talents. We also hope to coax Brad into writing a blog or two to offer his long experience and great insight to the WWW community. Stay tuned for more announcements as we expand our offerings here at Weekend Warrior Worship and continue build a great resource for the church. Tell a friend!
Rob Rash gives WWW a great shout out over at his blog. You will enjoy following Rob – he covers some great worship topics. Of WWW, Rob writes:
One of the intriguing and wonderful aspects of this album is the variety of artists. Ranging in age, musical style, and geographical location, it’s simply amazing that something so great could come together.
Check it out, and thanks, Rob for your time and your support! WWW will be featured on a RobRash.us interview in the near future!
Many thanks to WWW friend and inspiration Leah Carolan for listening to and reviewing ‘Your Word’. We especially covet the reviews of working worship leaders who help WWW hone its craft of sourcing the church with great songs.
My favorite song on the album is “Death Could Not Hold You…The song is easy to play and the lyrics are packed with a great testimony of Christ’s triumph over the grave…As a worship leader in the church, this is a song I would definitely use, especially for Easter services
Hey check out our latest review over at AllAboutWorship.com
Dan Thomson writes:
Overall, this is a well produced and lyrically rich EP with a lot to offer the listener … Each song individually has a lot to offer and any congregation or worship leader would be able to take away something from Your Word.
Thanks to Wisdom Moon and the AAW crew for their willingness to give us a listen!
Check out our review over at www.theworshipcommunity.com:
All the works here are well written and beautifully produced…brilliant production… I highly encourage congregations to consider using these songs in their congregational music set lists….WWW has a great vision for songwriters of worship music.
Thanks to Melanie Siewert of TWC ant to all the staff at TWC for nurturing this vision.
Glendale, AZ, May 25, 2011: Weekend Warrior Worship today announced the release of their debut EP, entitled “Your Word”. Founded to enable the church to connect with its ‘weekend warrior songwriters’, Weekend Warrior Worship’s music is a collaboration between songwriters and producer Jeff McCullough of Tree Hill Media. Each project brings meaningful, well-written songs in a fresh presentation intended to offer new worship resources to the church. Neither a band nor a church ministry, Weekend Warrior Worship is instead focused entirely on the songs themselves. Each production is designed to give the songs their best possible voice, and the songs themselves are chosen with criteria that stresses biblical integrity and musical quality. Weekend Warrior Worship’s songs are performed by aspiring and established artists whose heart’s desire is to help the church worship.
“Your Word” features 5 songs written or co-written by weekend warrior Mark Snyder, a 20 year veteran lay worship leader for children and small groups who is also very active in online songwriting circles. “I Choose to Praise You” is the first featured track, featuring vocals by Helene Immel and guitar work by Future of Forestry alum Nick Maybury. Composer/lyricist Mark Snyder says “I Choose to Praise You was written to provide the assurance we have in tumultuous times, that there is one thing we can stand on, and that is the Word of God”.
This theme resonates throughout “Your Word”. Written as a multigenerational worship offering, the songs on the album reflect the transcendence of the One we worship that is revealed in His Word, presented in a way that will immediately engage listeners. Each song comes from biblical passages that tell us who our God is, how exceptional a Creator/Savior we have, and how we can approach Him in our deepest needs.“Your Word” closes with “Let His Name”, a musical version of those ‘names of God’ posters so common a few years back. Performed by Matt Nuss, “Let His Name” is sure to give congregations a new way to sing the praises of God by singing who He is.
Musically, “Your Word” features a production that will appeal to all ages. The combination of Jeff McCullough’s keyboards and programming with Nick Maybury’s guitar and bass work and the vocal talents of Helene Immel, Morgan Leigh, Matt Nuss, and Josh Boyd offer a musical experience that is fresh, relevant, and well worth putting on your IPod. To arm church worship teams with the best tools possible, Weekend Warrior Worship also offers ‘Weekend Warrior Cuts”, which are simplified guitar/piano versions of the songs intended to enable all types of worship leaders and teams to use them, as well as lead sheets, melody, sheets, four part arrangements, and video presentations.
Weekend Warrior Worship is online at www.weekendwarriorworship.com, and its music is available there and via ITunes and all major digital distribution outlets.