Monday, July 14, 2008

Worship songs - fast or slow?

Camy here, talking about worship songs.

I lead worship for the youth group at our meetings on Saturday nights, and last weekend one of the high school girls requested a song they’d learned at JEMS Mount Hermon, a yearly set of Christian camps for families, singles, and teens.

The song is “The Words That You Say,” and she got me the link for a YouTube video of the song. The song was played slowly, so I intended it to be sung slowly.

But my pianist said it was supposed to be faster and upbeat. I think that’s how it was sung at Mount Hermon, but since I hadn’t been at the high school camp and didn’t hear the worship there, I just went by what she said.

So we played it fast. It’s actually quite good with an upbeat tempo, I think.

But then after worship, I got a “gentle complaint” from another teen (although he went to college camp, not high school camp, but he’s familiar with the song) who said the song was too fast. He even said the speed was kind of distracting from the words.

Now I’m completely confused. Since I never heard the song played at Mount Hermon high school camp, I can’t say for sure how it’s supposed to be played. Some teens like it fast, others apparently like it slow.

I can’t please anybody!!!!

I admit, there are some worship songs I really enjoy played with a good beat. The first that comes to mind is “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”

I went to a SonicFlood concert years ago and they opened with that song, and it was so powerful and worshipful played with a strong drum beat and loud electric guitars, that I’ll never forget the incredible feeling of God’s presence as we stood and sang and worshipped.

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy ...

Other songs are often played fast, but I prefer them slow. I like “I Want To Know You” played ... well, not slow, certainly, but not super speed, either. The words to that song are so powerful that I enjoy singing them--and meaning what I sing--rather than rattling them off to a fast beat.

I want to know You
I want to hear Your voice
I want to know You more
I want to touch You
I want to see Your face
I want to know You more

How about you? Slow or fast?

Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her latest Asian chick lit novel, Only Uni, released in February. Join her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly Christian fiction giveaways!


Bonnie Grove said...

I've heard it both ways.

Sung it both ways (it just depends whos playin', ya know?)

I like it fast - good to clap to when you do it fast.

Slow is fine too.

I think the words are repetitive enough that singing it fast isn't a distraction.

Actually, if I sing stuff too slow I get distracted. Climb off the stage and start doing other things - that gets distracting.


Bonnie Grove

Smilingsal said...

Hi Camy,
I think a good worship leader will mix slow with fast. It's really all about the words, though.

Jenny B. Jones said...

My church jazzes up old hymns too, and I love it. But there are a few they (mostly) leave alone. I'm now a contemporary girl, so fast or slow, just as long as it's full of passion and spirit, I'm good. Love me some church music!!!

Camy Tang said...

Bonnie, I totally hear you about being distracted when songs are too slow! LOL

Sal, you're right--it is all about the words.

Jenny--I love jazzed up hymns! I like hymns in general, but most of my congregation isn't too keen on them.


Captain Bonnie Spinner said...

I think the speed depends on the song. Some songs are meant to be faster, but some slow songs are meant for you to process the words going through your head.

{Btw, I'm a different Bonnie than the one that commented before}