The Melchizedek Psalmist by Alvin Swee last updated on 30 Nov 2007.
1.1 Definition of Sound and the Difference between Music and Sound
Sound is a class of physical kinetic energy called acoustic energy. Acoustic energy consists of fluctuating waves of pressure in a physical medium, example: air. Sound is produced when an object vibrates and causes the air around it to move in a back and forth motion, which is called sound waves.
A single complete motion of a sound wave is called a cycle. The rate at which the air pressure fluctuates is called frequency. The musical attribute to frequency is also called pitch. The height of the wave from top to bottom is called the amplitude or the general term is volume of the sound. The greater the amplitude, the louder the sound.
Wavelength= Speed of Sound / Frequency
Musical notes are specific frequencies rooted on the key A just above the middle C at 440Hz. How we tell by our ears the difference between a piano and violin though they are played on the same note is because of their other composites of the frequencies called harmonics or partials. In other words, they consist of the basic or fundamental frequency of sine wave with other secondary frequencies. In music, this is called the timbre or tone colour. Music is thus formed when these specific notes or frequencies are played.
Perfect pitch (where a person can tell what note is played just by hearing) can be attained by training the listening skills and thereby able to hear for the 'colour' or tone of the key when played. Preferably, use an electronic keyboard, because it would usually be tuned more accurately than a string instrument. Perfect pitch should not be confused with relative pitch that is when you can sing backwards or forwards to a root key, e.g. C major scale, and guess the right note. However, having relative pitch is a good first step to achieving perfect pitch. If you are a musician, before you play a certain note, sometimes you sort of know how the note is going to sound like in your head - this is a form of perfect pitch. More on this will be covered later.
1.2 Different Frequencies and Their Effects
Sound Therapy and Music Therapy are two different types of therapies used to help the well being of a human body. They are scientifically and clinically proven to improve the health or body mechanics of a person. Music Therapy is used mainly as a general therapy: example to calm a person or to draw a person to engage in improving body motor skills by using rhythmic tunes.
In 1 Sam 16:23, we see David using music as a tool to heal Saul of his distress. Needless to say, anointed Praise and Worship does wonders to the body and well being of a person. How much more the benefits of speaking and singing in tongues, since the Holy Spirit knows what is best for your body! The Bible also tells us to mutter or meditate the Word of God that we may be blessed, for the Word is life and bread to us. As we can now know by scientific proof, how Sound Therapy can help us, how much more speaking the Word to ourselves as well as speaking in tongues - our very own 'Sound Therapy'. Scientists or doctors have yet to 'catch up' with the truth written in the Bible on the verse: "life and death is in the power of the tongue".
It is good to first experiment to see which music key to use for different songs. For example, if the original key of a song is sung in the key of G, but the singer finds that the key is too high for him/her to sing and thus sing in the key of F. What are the effects? If it seems more 'dry' or 'heavy', it is advised then to sing another song instead of sticking to singing for other reasons. However, on the other hand, if it seems more worshipful and 'dynamic', why not? More on this will be explained under the topic on song writing. (Example: Worshipful Key: D; Bright Key: E generally for most songs).
1.3 "Let There Be Light"
The second form of energy mentioned in the Bible is Sound. (Gen 1:3). The first being Kinetic: "The Spirit of God was moving over…" (Gen 1:2). However, the energy that displayed the creative power of God was Sound. We are, in a way, energy beings; (needless to say, we are more than that: Spirit beings or life generating beings).
Point is, our Main Source of Energy is God Himself. Jesus is the Bread of Life. The Bible says that if we would believe and speak and do not doubt in our hearts, we would have whatever we say (Matt 21:21). The Bible also says that we are made in His image; if He is the Source of all energies, what does that make us? Einstein has discovered the formula E=mc2. He, unlike us, did not know or at least mention who the Source of 'E' is in the formula. However, it is interesting to know through his findings and this formula that if we draw from Jesus as our Energy, time and age comes to a stand still simply because He is infinite in energy and power. Jesus has also said in the Bible that He came to give us life (zoe) and may have it abundantly (Jn 10:10-11). Remember Abraham and Sarah as well as Caleb? They have the zoe life of God.
In Deut 8:3 and Matt 4:4, it is furthered mentioned that man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Let your mouth be a mouthpiece for God and speak in tongues!
"…and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory." Ezek 43:2 (KJV)
2.0 Biblical Role of a Melchizedek Psalmist
2.1 Edification, Direction, Inspire
It is important to know the heart of God to function effectively in these roles: edifying, directing and inspiring. By seeing Jesus, helps us to know His heart: always comforting, encouraging and inspiring the disciples. 1 Chron. 9:32-33 mentions that the singers attended to prepare the showbread. We see that they feed on the bread and prepare the bread for ministry purposes. We are in the New Covenant of grace, the Melchizedek priesthood, not the Old Covenant of law, the Levitical priesthood.
In the New Covenant, the Melchizedek priests are to only give to the people on behalf of God (though also representing the people to God), never demanding anything from the people; unlike the Levitical priesthood. Likewise, the songs sung should not be for conveying the dos and don'ts (i.e. the Law) or condemning. In essence, songs should in one way or another point people to Jesus. In the story of Martha and Mary, we can see that the Lord was please with Mary simply because she drew 'manna' from the Lord and in turn later became a minister to the Lord as she anointed Him before His crucifixion.
2.2 Types and Roles of a Psalmist
· Sound Engineers
These are people who are blessed with the knowledge of Sound and the technicalities of how a sound system works. They are the people who know how to make the entire music band sound good (or bad). Needless to say, if the music band is below average, the sound engineer has his limitations too. Though they usually go unnoticed only when some thing goes wrong with the sound system, they play a very important role especially in their mixing (i.e. the volume level of each musician, individual equalisation, etc.).
· Song Writers
These are people who are blessed with the skills and inspiration to write songs. Most often than not, they are often musicians as well. It is this skill as a musician that opens the 'door' to the skill of writing songs. Song writers play a role of preachers as well. They preach through their music: either to inspire and encourage or on the downside. Thus, as mentioned earlier, it is important to feed on the Life of Jesus, not the Law that produces death.
Singers are those who have been given the gift to not just sing well but also to capture people's attention with their voices. It is this ability that singers need to keep in check that they do not direct the attention to self but to direct this attention to Jesus. As such, they also have a degree of gifting in the area of preaching; for this purpose of elevating Jesus when they address the congregation.
Musicians are people who enjoy expressing their emotions and communication by means of playing an instrument. Skills in playing musical instruments can be trained; but the gift of musicianship comes from God (1 Sam 16:23 - David). Ever encounter an average musician but the music he/she plays captivates you? Many Christians call this 'the anointing'. However, everyone is anointed with the Holy Spirit, but the gift of musicianship is to be asked for (charisma gift not dorea gift)(1 Cor. 12:4-11,31; 2 Tim. 1:6, Acts 11:17). As such the accurate term: gift, not anointing. Needless to say, it is to be stirred up or kindled afresh. How? It is as simple as just speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues would in turn kindle the gift of musicianship. More would be explained under the topic: "The 'How-tos' of 'Tuning' to the Holy Spirit".
· Illustrators or Artists (Dancers, Actors, Painters, Sculptors)
This is the group of people who chooses as well as possesses the passion to express themselves by means of other medium (i.e. bodies, actions, paintings) other than music. They use these mediums to preach or share their experiences or simply just to communicate to their audience. (2 Sam 6:14- David dancing for God)
3.0 The Office of A Prophet vs Prophetic Gifts
3.1 Discernment, Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Interpretation of Tongues, Diverse Tongues.
There is a difference between the office of a prophet and prophetic gifts. A person whose calling is a prophet, can operate in the prophetic gifts as the Holy Spirit leads (Note: not as his spirit wills). In other words, the prophetic gifts are already given or operating in him/her by Holy Spirit; he/she only need to be led by the Holy Spirit to speak or not and if to speak; when, how, etc. There are different degrees of gifting by which a prophet may operate in, whether within the specific gifts or the degree by which the Holy Spirit reveal things to him/her. For example, a prophet may have a strong gifting in the word of wisdom but not in the word of knowledge. Likewise for an evangelist, he/she may have a strong gifting in winning souls but not in the area of healing.
On the other hand, every believer can operate in these giftings. However, it is as the Holy Spirit wills and leads. "As the Holy Spirit wills" simply means: when the Holy Spirit chooses to reveal things to you. (1 Cor. 12:11). It is the same as the calling of an evangelist and that of every believer called to do evangelism or simply sharing the Good News. As such, the above-mentioned giftings can be trained or taught to believers how we can operate in these gifts as the Spirit leads and wills us to.
God speaks to everyone of us. This is one way the Holy Spirit guides us and lead us to speak into someone else's life. Needless to say, every word should be tested by the Word (Bible) and should serve only as a confirmation to what the Holy Spirit has already spoken into the person's heart. There will be times when a word of direction is given and may not serve as a confirmation to the person. In such a case, the person should just shelf the word of prophecy until which it fulfils on its own. Any negative or absurd word given is never from God. The word must give rise to peace and produce positiveness. It should not give rise to worry, confusion or self-works. On the other extreme, we have flattery words that glorify self.
As such, many leaders do not encourage their members to operate in these gifts or at least try, simply because of the damage it could do when someone in error claims to 'hear from God'. Yet the Bible clearly tells us through Paul's writing that he wish we could all prophesy and encourage one another. Thus it is biblical to practice these giftings instead of shelving them. Anyway, leaders who try to stop super-spiritual individuals from speaking nonsense never really succeed, simply because these super-spiritual individuals would still blubber on when the leaders are not around or they would just go to another church and blubber their 'God-given words'. Wouldn't it be better if believers were taught to discern the words themselves especially since they also operate in such gifts? (1 Cor. 14:1-5).
3.2 Sensor, Hearer, Seer.
are three ways by which the Holy Spirit would speak to the individual other
than through the Bible, which is the main principal way. They are, you sense
or knowing from your heart or inner-man, hearing Him or seeing a vision (whether
by means of the image-nation
Start by praying for the other person in tongues then your understanding. Then pause to hear from God as you would when talking to a friend. It sounds fundamental, but God is such a gentleman that He would just listen to you if you want to go on talking. Ask Him to speak to you and listen (sense, hear or see).
In sensing, it is a knowing in your heart: like God painting blue on your heart and you know it is blue. In hearing, you hear with your heart as like hearing your own heartbeat when the surroundings are very quiet. A single word or even sentences would arise from within and you hear it. In seeing, an image may surface from within your heart that seems to come from your imagination. It could be as simply as an image of a staff or a full picture with colours or even an open vision so that your very eyes are looking at it.
After receiving the word, test it with your Bible and ask God for His peace. Most of the time, His peace comes together with the word. Before speaking to the person, ask appropriate questions before speaking. Such as if he/she is encountering a problem, is he/she interested in doing something? If you are wrong, just admit your mistake and move on. You are learning what's God and what's your own flesh. When speaking what you hear from God for someone else, it is more appropriate to say what you think God is saying instead of using words: "Thus says the Lord". Be careful in giving directional words. Think encouragement not self-glorification.
Remember this: it is the love for others to serve, not to seek your own glory or recognition. God operates through love. (1 Cor. 13:13).
As mentioned earlier, music is used as a tool to preach His words to others as well as to sing revelations of Him. As such, it is good to know and operate in these giftings to write and/or sing biblical and heavenly inspired songs: what some people call prophetic or spontaneous songs. We see in the Book of Psalms: God reveal Himself through prophetic songs written and sung by man.
3.3 Functions of These Prophetic Gifts
Prophetic gifts should have one or more of these listed functions mentioned below. Notice that they do not and should not bring condemnation or embarrassment. These functions all anchor to love, faith and hope. Not hatred, humanistic anger or judgement.
Simple words of encouragement edify people. This should not be confused with flattery. The key here is sincerity and love.
Exhortation refers to the prophetic gifts functions to admonish, urge, remind and warn. The most common example is the preaching of God's Word every Sunday.
Godly spoken words bring comfort instead of discomfort. Certain truthful words may initially hurt a person's ego, but if yielded to the words or advice, they would yield peaceable fruits. However, generally, words spoken that speak of negativity and yield fear is not from God.
Words of advice pertaining to direction, act as words of confirmation to what the receiver already know in his or her heart. In other words, God has already spoken these things to the person directly in his heart. As such, directional words serve as confirmation purposes. More often than not, these words would give more details and insights above its primary goal in confirming what the person has in his or her heart.
Correction is needful particularly in the area of establishing someone in love and grace. We see that Jesus left the harshest words for the Pharisees and the religious leaders during His time on earth, not the sinners. Why? It was because (and still is) they tried to justify themselves by means of their own works instead of trusting in the grace of God or Jesus as their Messiah to save them. It was human pride at work and can only be cast out by means of preaching. Moreover, the religious leaders of their time continued to deceive the people into working for their own salvation by means of fulfilling the Law instead of believing what John the Baptist preached: "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world". Remember: Jesus loves even the Pharisees and the religious leaders; that was why He corrected them. He could have kept silent but He did not. Love is active not passive (i.e. sweeping everything under the carpet), which is why He died for us. Likewise, 'correction' sermons preached against self-righteousness and religiosity is needful to point such people to Jesus and His finished work.
Prophetic gifts have a function in the ability to illume a situation to 'see' clearly its problems and rectify them effectively. They clear doubts and confusion. The gift of wisdom closely ties itself to this function. It is useless to know about a problem but not its solution.
The function of impartation refers to the ability to impart God-characteristics such as faith, love and hope by means of, for example, God-inspired preaching or sharing from the Bible.
4.0 Organising a Band
4.1 Music Director vs Worship Leader
There will be times when certain decisions need to be made, such as transposing a song during worship. More often than not, the music director and the worship leader are two separate individuals. In an event of a conflict of views, the music director should be the one to decide on the best option. The reason is because the music director would be the person who knows everyone's role best and is competent in area of overall musicianship. During the actual praise and worship session, the band as a whole should follow the directions of the worship leader. It should be noted that the worship leader should follow as closely to what has been rehearsed before and not deviate too far from it. This is simply because not all musicians are competent enough to adjust to sudden changes such as transposing the song without rehearsing. As such, the worship leader needs to know his/her band pretty well. The worship leader should not be just a person who sings very well and do not have a clue of musicianship. Deviation from what has been rehearsed; such as for free worship is acceptable and in fact encouraged. More on this will be covered in the topic on "Prophetic Leading vs Protocol Leading".
Teamwork between the music director and the worship leader is very important. Working hand in hand and complimenting views does wonders and determines a good band.
4.2 Who Leads in a Band
In order of priority.(Base on tempo and during play):
2 Bass Guitarist
3 Rhythm Guitarist
5 Lead Guitarist
*Assuming 5-piece band. General Rule: All follow drummer with Clicker. Percussionist should follow drummer; in absence of drummer, percussionist or bass takes the rhythm lead.
The worship leader's/ singer's role is to give directions as to which line he/she is to sing next or moving on to the next song and so on.
5.0 Prophetic Leading vs Protocol Leading
5.1 Dos and Don'ts
Many people seem to think that there is a conflict between prophetic leading and protocol leading. When there is a structure to the praise and worship session, people tend to think that it is restricting the Holy Spirit from moving. This is not true. The Holy Spirit can still touch people's lives. It is that way only because of the wrong doctrinal songs that are sung that the Holy Spirit would not confirm with signs and wonders. Another reason is that the leader in charge (local shepherd) would not allow or not believe in the Holy Spirit to move. God is an orderly and structured God. The universe He created is in a very orderly fashion. Yet He is a very creative God. Within a protocol leading, space and time can be given for free worship. For example, during the transition from a song to the next, the worship team can plan a 4-chord progression (e.g. G, Em, C, D) for free worship. During this 4-chord progression, the worship leader can lead by singing in tongues, singing in understanding, whether to go louder or softer or even silent by giving simple hand gestures for the worship team to follow, as the Spirit leads. In fact, choosing the right songs to sing can itself serve as prophetic leading, simply because the Holy Spirit can speak to a person through the song.
When leading in free worship, do not get lost in the 'worship jungle'. There were times when I encountered worship leaders sang in tongues and it seemed that they were the only ones on the stage singing and appeared to forget about the congregation. Be real and not let your emotions drive you. That does not mean to suppress your feelings towards God when singing; it simply means not to get spooky. That is why when a worship leader is going through an emotional time, for example someone dear has gone home to be with the Lord, it is better not to lead but simply take a break and receive from the Lord first until he/she is ready again emotionally. The ministry is a unique one because you are serving and receiving from the Lord at the same time (i.e. Mary and Martha ministry). But remember that it is more important to receive than to serve.
Allow as much space and time for free worship as possible. Do not hurry through worship. Commune with your Father in heaven. As Mary would sit by Jesus to receive from Him, this is worship. Worship simply means making Him God in your life; seeing Him as God Almighty, God your Provider, God Your Healer, God your Peace, etc.
5.2 Roles of Individual Musicians
Individual musicians should be aware of the worship leader's leading by means of gestures. Thus, opening your eyes at all times is needful for musicians and it is biblical. The Bible does not say to close your eyes and worship (of course it is also perfectly fine to close your eyes if you want to; but not if you need to know what your worship leader wants you to do next). Jesus lift up His eyes to heaven and gave thanks. Some times, the leader may want just the keyboardist or the guitarist to play, thus, this is when the 'gifting' comes in. We see now that both skills and gift of musicianship is needful. So is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. This would be explained further in the topic: The How-tos of 'Tuning' to the Holy Spirit.
5.3 Order and Direction vs Rules and 'Man-Made' Targets
I have mentioned earlier that God is an orderly God. However, He is not a rigid God. Setting rules does not mean there will be order. Likewise, removing rules does not necessary give rise to disorder. For example: the Ten Commandments are broken all the time and do not bring order (the Jews were judged and many died - much disorder); it is what is in the heart of man that brings order or disorder. If a rule or law to restrict you from crossing a busy street is removed, will you want to cross it carelessly? Education precedes implementation of laws and rules. It is better for music directors and worship leaders to educate their musicians on why certain things are done in a particular way than placing rules stating a clear yes or no. Explanation is needful and coupled with flexibility. We would still be singing old hymns without musical instruments had there not been musicians who dare to break the 'rules'.
The other area that music directors and worship leaders are to watch out for is setting what I call 'man-made' targets. These could be written or non-written 'targets' such as getting people to cry, sing loudly, impress people, getting people hyped up and other agenda other than the essence: communing with God together. The focus is for the worship team to worship God. Leading the people to worship is secondary; it is achieved and come into the right place effortlessly. The congregation should follow willingly instead of 'pulling their hands' to follow. The band plays the music, the worship leader/singer follows the music to sing, and the congregation follows the worship leader and sing together. Commune with God with the heart and with passion, be real and not hype things up or go through routines. He is your Father who knows you inside out. The key is directed passion towards Jesus.
6.0 What Songs to Choose
6.1 Follow the Sermon vs Follow the 'Flow'
Pastors in various churches would prefer to sing songs that link to the preaching of the sermon for the day. The purpose for this is simply to get the congregation to be prepared and confess what is to be preached. Needless to say, the sermon and the songs are pre-planned. The advantage of this is that there would be 'no surprises' and the band would be comfortable in their routine since they have rehearsed the songs and sequence. This in turn allows the band to commit lesser mistakes that would disrupt the worship. On the other hand, bands who have been doing this for years and skew towards just playing the songs listed for Sunday service would be very resistant to play another song that the pastor may feel led to sing. This is simply because the band may just be afraid to make mistakes or could not remember the chords to play.
So what does 'following the flow' really means is that the band needs to be ready to play various songs by memory so that when the pastor or worship leader feel led to sing a particular song, the band can then accompany the singer. It does not mean that the band is to not rehearse any songs and be ready to play any song on Sunday 'and follow the flow'. It would be a disaster. The band simply prepares the songs to be sung on Sunday as well as two or three other songs for ministerial purposes.
Between songs, the band can also prepare ministerial chords to play to sing in tongues. Take for example singing in the key of G. As the worship leader signals to sing in tongues, the ending chord could be C, then D, then G, then Em, then C, then D, then back to G again, and repeat the pattern of 4 chords. Or simply playing just C and D and end in G. Alternatively, you can play a 5-chord progression: G, Am, Bm, C, D.
6.2 Biblical vs Inspirational
There are many songs that are inspired by God as well as songs written by 'very sincere' people. One song that I personally believe that it was inspired by God is the song "Amazing Grace" that is both biblical and inspirational. There are also songs that have very inspirational melodies but the words are not biblical; example singing to God to ask Him to be closer to you, when He already live in you. In such instances, the words just happen to be written wrongly and could be replaced by biblical words. Of course, you need to be the person who originally wrote the song to change it. If not, leave it alone! Then we have songs that are biblically written but the melody does not sound right. These songs are usually not sung simply because they do not sound good.
There are songs that have words that seem to be not biblical, but are actually. For example, the words "my heart burns for You" may have two meanings: "my heart is burning with passion for You" or "my heart longs for You". Both are acceptable since it simply means telling how much you love God or wanting more of God's manifested presence in your life. But if read too deep, it could also mean wanting more of God; then of course it would not be biblical since He has given all of Himself to us. The key is, not to be over critical and read the context of the song and its melody (i.e. what is the entire song/melody saying).
So in short, choose songs that are both biblical and inspirational.
6.3 Three Main Categories of Songs
From the words we can tell which category they fall in. For example, in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want, He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters…" falls under the category of Man to Man. However, we see later in verse 4: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me", it becomes Man to God. Generally, songs fall under only one of the three categories, however, there are songs that can have more than one of these characteristics as we see in Psalms 23.
· Man to God - refers to songs written/sung by man to God.
· God to Man - refers to songs written/sung by God to man.
· Man to Man - refers to songs written/sung by man to man.
7.0 Song Writing
7.1 Elements in a Song
Needless to say, every song got to have its melody; it is fitting the right melody to the words that is the important element (or vice versa). Lets say you have melody humming; the question to ask is "what is it saying?" Is it intense? Is it soulful? Is it joyous? Or is it majestic? From here, it would then be easier to fill in the words.
Words are important to the song. They express what the song is saying as mentioned above. They paint a picture and have effects of how preaching would do to the listener. It would be more interesting to incorporate words that has a picture in them, example, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…" In fact, by doing this, we are practically stirring our imagination and visualisation that help builds our faith in Him.
Different kinds of rhythm have effects that directly affect the overall sound of the song. Generally, a fast beat song gets a person 'up and going' while a slow beat song calms a person down. In music therapy, therapist uses beats and percussions to entice special needs individuals with problems in their motor skills to move their bodies as how people would be attracted to dance when they hear dance-beat songs. Wouldn't it be interesting to have this kind of songs in church that will get people to dance before the Lord?
· 'The Hook'
This element is termed as so because it captures the attention of the listener. It is a combination of words and melody in a song. It could be just a single word or a line in the song. Not all songs have this element, but this is what makes a good song from an average one. It incorporates the theme of the song as well. Example of a 'hook', "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound".
This is the element that makes a song sounds interesting and poetic. As usual, not all songs have this element, but this is what add colour to a song and makes it sound good and interesting. Rap songs have a lot of rhyming involved and that is what makes it captivating. Avoid writing songs with words that are filled in as how you would speak; write poetically.
7.2 Inspiration: How to get and Where It Comes From
There are hardly books out there in the market that talks about how to get inspiration to write songs, much less Christian ones. Some song writers, through interviews, share that they write their songs from their own or other people's experiences; some others say they go to the park or beach to get their inspiration. But what is the bible way if there is any?
In Job 32:8, it says "But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration5397 of the Almighty giveth them understanding." (KJV)
The word "inspiration" in Hebrew is nesh-aw-maw' which according to Strong's definition, it means: a puff, that is, wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal: - blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.
In Acts 2:4: "And they were all filled with the Holy40 Ghost4151, and began to speak with other tongues1100, as the Spirit4151 gave them utterance." (KJV)
And in Jude 20: "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying4336 in the Holy40 Ghost4151" (KJV)
From the verses above, we can clearly see how inspiration comes; it comes from God. In fact, it comes from within, since the Holy Spirit now lives in us.
In my own experience, at the beginning, I have learnt how to sing in tongues in church as well as when I am on my own, playing my guitar using 4 simple chords in Key of G (i.e. G, Em, C, D) and worshipped God. As I progressed, I found myself singing new melodies and began remembering them. Moving along, at times I would record on a simple recorder. At other times, words began to 'fill' my mouth and I started singing with my understanding. Walla! A new song is 'written'. At first, the song is in what I would call its raw stage. From there, try to improve the words or rhyme them, as a diamond would go through cutting and polishing, until you have the final product. Most of the time, you would find yourself singing only the chorus part of the song first during your worship time; you might not have the verses or other parts of the song. Ask God for the words and move along from there to fill the verses.
It is only recently, did I find out that this is 'bible-way' and anyone can do this.
8.0 The How-tos of 'Tuning' to the Holy Spirit
8.1 Speaking in tongues, listening
Firstly, let me establish this truth that the Holy Spirit lives in you and will never leave you regardless of your deeds whether good or bad, because Jesus blood has made you holy and clean once and forever. This section is to help us understand better what is of the Holy Spirit apart from our own emotions and/or thinking. This section has nothing to do with being in sync or out of sync with the Holy Spirit. You are always in Him and He in you.
From the previous chapter, we see the close relation between speaking in tongues and getting inspiration. Actually, it is the same as tuning in to the Holy Spirit. We are in fact speaking together as one with Him- the Almighty. Often, due to our human tendency to rush, we do not take time to pause and listen quietly to see if He wants to tell us anything. Thus, do not just go on speaking in tongues as a sounding gong; pause and listen to His voice. He speaks within into you. Sometimes, it comes like a knowing, like how a painter paints blue on your heart and you 'see' it as blue. By the way, speaking loudly in tongues does not mean you will get more of anything from it (maybe a sore throat). You do not shout to speak to your lover or spouse, do you? In the Bible, we see even Jesus going off alone to pray, and we never see Him shouting to His Father to commune with Him. The primary purpose of tongues is to commune with Him.
8.2 What is the 'Flow'
The word 'flow' in the Christian context have been used to replace many words in speech until it seems to be mystified. Christians have used this word casually when they actually meant to say the presence of God. At other times, you will hear remarks like, "you were in the 'flow' dude"; when what they meant was you were playing or singing in unison with the musicians or worship leader. Actually, it simply means the moving in unison with the Holy Spirit. It is this unison that sets the mood during a service. And most often, this mood is set by the worship leader; whether it be solemn during a funeral or joyous during a wedding. It is following your insides as you are 'tuned' to the Holy Spirit that would make you set the right mood all the time. The difficult part is trying to tell what is the Holy Spirit from your emotions. As such, speaking in tongues would help you much. From here, you will then move or 'flow' with the Holy Spirit to set the mood so others would follow. Using the remark that "Jesus was in the 'flow' all the time" sounds funny, doesn't it? Jesus and us are always in unison with Him - the Holy Spirit, because He is in us and us in Him.
8.3 Spiritual vs Emotional
In John 11, we see clearly how our Lord moves in unison with the Spirit, not emotions. Question is how did He know? The answer is in verses 9 and 10 (KJV):
9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."
We have the Holy Spirit in us and He is the Light. Emotions fluctuate, sometimes happy sometimes sad. Characteristics of the Light are all positive. So one (inferior) way we could tell is look at the characteristics of the emotions: it is negative or positive? We are to be led by the Spirit not emotions. If negative (persistent) emotions, it is not in sync with the Holy Spirit (here, I am speaking generally, please read on). If positive, e.g. happy, most of the time it is God. Simply because we are the children of God and we walk in the Light. Emotions are part of your soul and should follow your spirit (the real you) and you follow the Holy Spirit. You should not use the above statements as a sure rule; in other words: "positive emotions is of God, negative emotions is not of God" is not always true.
There are periods in time when we face sadness, for example, during the temporal parting of a loved one when he/she dies and crying helps to ease this difficult time. Forcing yourself or using human will power to choose not to cry, simply because you think in your head that it is not of God to cry is silly. Remember later in the same chapter: Jesus wept (John 11:35). Jesus wept because He felt and saw the people's sadness (John 11:33). He felt what we feel. However, if Jesus just wept and followed His emotions, we would not read about the raising of Lazarus from the dead later. This is the essence of which is important.
Likewise, during praise and worship (whether you are leading or in a supporting role) do not be led by your emotions, getting all hype up or in a melancholy mood. But be led by the Spirit.
In addition, know what the Word of God is saying about your situation. Matthew 4:4 (KJV)
But He answered and said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
9.0 Pitfalls of a Melchizedek Psalmist
There is a certain book that I read that talks about areas to look out for when you are a leader. Here, I am going to use some of the points and highlight them under the context of being a worship leader, musician or a sound engineer.
9.1 Rights vs Responsibility
A lot of us have difficulties deciphering our rights from our responsibilities. For example, if you are the worship leader and/or music director for a particular service, you have a right to expect the musicians to support you in leading the songs and in other decision-making matters. However, this is in direct conflict to a servant-hood attitude and posture. Being a servant is to serve others. So ask yourself: "What has God given me that I may bless others with?" Work with this attitude and posture instead of demanding to have your expectations met. Your responsibility is to be a good steward not a good master. This can also be termed as "self vs others". Of course, there are times when the team does not seem to meet up to expectations. Your responsibility as a good steward is to communicate these expectations and work together to achieve them. Why? This is simply because you have a steward-responsibility towards the congregation as well. Jesus has a right to demand people to worship Him, but it is uncharacterised of Him to do so.
9.2 Role vs Relationship
Everyone has a status quo and a role to fulfil or be a part of. Over emphasis on the individual roles of each musician will lead to conflict of interest among musicians across the band. Thoughts or words such as "you should do this not that", "why was this not done in such a way" and "I could have done this better" will surface causing strife and misunderstandings. Instead, building up strong trust and relationships are far more important. With strong trust and relationship, bonding and understanding of one another 'doings' and roles become easy and building upon one another strengths lead to a godly band.
9.3 Wielding Authority vs Empowering Others
As a ministry leader, your position and calling is not one of ordering and demanding servant-hood character or attitudes from your ministry members. There are times when you have to wield your authority as a leader to mobilise and make decisions for your members, however this could not be done unless first they are empowered to do and fulfil their necessary tasks before you can mobilise them. You are only as good a leader as your 'weakest' follower. The centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 knew what authority was. Authority was given to him by someone above him who empowers him to do his job and in turn do likewise to those under his command. Likewise, Jesus taught the disciples and empowered all of us with the Holy Spirit to enable us to preach the gospel.
9.4 Overcoming Competition vs Obedience to God
When an individual is obedient to what God is telling him to do, he will not be concern about competitors since God is the best Manager around who makes sure that there will be no conflict of interest. Even if the competition is in direct conflict with him, he knows that no 'weapon' formed against him shall prosper. That is why the mission statement of an organisation is important to keep it focus (in the context of a corporation). Likewise, for the individual, ask yourself what has God bless you with to start with and work with Him.
As a psalmist, be yourself and worship Jesus with what He has blessed you with. Do not be concerned or envious of other fellow Christians who appears to have the same gifting as you, because you have your very own unique gifting. Example, a younger drummer in other people's opinion, plays better than you or a singer sings better than you. God has given each of us unique gifts even as we are unique in personality. We do not need to compete with one another to be the better one. Avoid comparison the best you can, because it can be a real nasty pitfall.
Build on the gifts or what you already have that God has blessed you with. From here, step-by-step, God's purposes in little nuggets will be revealed daily. Do not focus on prophecies given to you or focus on the question of "what is God's purpose for me here in my life". Simply because, if He will to tell you everything, then where is the fun and faith in the Christian walk? Prophesies, if they are true or confirm what you desire in your heart will fulfil on their own. If not, then they are false; even if they may sound good and 'confirm' what you want (many times humans can observe what you like and dislike within a few seconds in a conversation; how about fallen angels?). If only a time frame was given in these prophesies.
So, don't focus on prophecies, rather, on Jesus- the Author and Finisher of your faith. Give Him what he has blessed you with. Start with what you have and like to do.
9.5 Law vs Grace
Law is a set of impersonal rules and regulations. You can be that set of impersonal rules and regulations; basically just telling people what to do and what not to do. Grace is Jesus personified. He shows you, guides you and helps you to do the impossible. Be like Him as you behold Him daily in your walk with Him.
Remember: Jesus is the Servant King.
10.0 Skills vs Anointing
10.1 Directed Practice
Both skills and anointing are needed to be stirred. (1 Sam 16:18-23) There is a need for us to practice our skills - whether on musical instruments or singing. Skills left dormant for a long time will either regress or remain unimproved. For example, if you have not been swimming for years, you will still know how to swim but may not be as good a swimmer if you swim everyday.
Anointing comes from God. Skills can be improved by means of practice, but you will ultimately reach a limit due to the fact that every human is limited by his own efforts. God can and will bless us will the necessary skills and anointing that in turn we may bless others also. Anointing is definitely more precious than skills. An anointed musician may just play a single note on his instrument and bless people as compared to a very skilful player who plays a lot of notes but produces 'hot-air'.
10.2 Impartation vs Direct Blessing
Gifts (skills and anointing) can be imparted or taught by man (e.g. Elisha), yet there is a better way: directly from God. Needless to say, all these gifts are ultimately from God. Everyone is unique in terms of character and/or ways of doing things. Likewise, different giftings functions differently in different individuals. Some prefer playing the guitar while others prefer the piano. Naturally, their giftings develop according to their area of interest. Learn to worship with what you have and you will see that the 'seed' of gift that you have, will grow to a tree as God gives the growth.
10.3 Mary vs Martha
Remember the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus commended on Mary's choice of the better portion that shall not be taken away from her versus Martha who was concern for many things. Many times, we as musicians or technicians are concern for many things to be set right for praise and worship; however, we missed the "better portion" which is simply worshipping the Lord and fellowshipping with Him. We could get so engross in work that we forget worship. Worship simply means fellowshipping with Him. Remember: He does not need your service, in fact He is happy to serve you because you are actually saying that you are nothing and He is everything. He has myriad of angels created to serve Him and His purposes. We are actually in fact serving His people, His Church. One reason why we fall into Martha's mentality is because of familiarity and 'going through routines' mentality.
11.0 Listening Skills
11.1 Types and Kinds of Christian Songs
The bible describes three types of songs: psalms5568, hymns5215 and spiritual4152 songs (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16). Psalms are melodious songs just like our present day modern songs accompanied with musical instruments. Hymns are words most often written in a poetic way and sung without musical instruments, as how the Catholics would sing out the Book of Psalms instead of just reading it. In Greek, the word hymn is "humnos" where the English word hum comes from. Spiritual songs are spontaneous songs sung as the Spirit leads; most often after singing in tongues, for the purpose of interpreting what was sung in tongues.
There are many types of modern Christian songs for example Rap, R & B, Praise and Worship Songs, Jazz and others. It is good for Christian musicians to listen to various kinds of songs especially for those who aspire to be songwriters. There will be a type of songs that you would like as compared to others simply because of personal taste. However, having a personal taste should not limit you to just listening to a particular type of songs. If you do so, you would develop what I term as 'narrow-minded musician syndrome'. For example, there are Christians who criticize Heavy Metal or even Rock Christian musicians as cults and trash music. Little do they know that these are the same Christian musicians who through their music helped many come to the knowledge of Christ and get saved. Many of these newly converts were once hard-core drug addicts and street gangsters.
These Christians who criticize such musicians, most often do not even bother to find out what are they singing about; much less 'hear' the sound and passion of such musicians. On the other hand, we have Christians who detest listening to older slower Christian hymns, much less singing them, finding them boring and stale. I am not referring to songs that are poorly written and unscriptural, but well written ones.
So listen widely, particularly paying attention to the entire message the song is singing to you.
11.2 Using Your Spirit-man to 'hear'
Most often than not, we just use our ears and preferences to hear a song and judge if we like it or not. I often find myself liking more rock style of songs than slower ones. However, there are songs that as we hear them more often, we will grow to like them. Why? This is because our spirit-man is in agreement to what was being sung and our soulish preferences come in-line with our 'spirit-nature'. This is what I call using your spirit-man to 'hear'. For example, the song "Above All" written by Lenny LeBlanc; when I first heard the song, it was sung by a local singer and I did not like it as it sounded very melancholy. Even after I heard it sung by other singers, I still did not like it. However, when I heard Lenny LeBlanc sang it live locally, he sang it with a message of the Lord thinking about us above all His pain, instead of singing the pain that the Lord went through. At that moment, that song touched my heart and ministered to me.
What you hear or interpret will translate to what you receive and in turn give out to others, whether through songs, words or deeds.
11.3 Relative and Perfect Pitch
The difference between relative pitch and perfect pitch is when you play a note, say C, then sing upwards in C major scale say to the fifth note, you will know that it is G and its sounds as you sing it. This is relative pitch. As for perfect pitch, it could be one or more of these characteristics: when a note is played, you can tell what note it is and/or sing a note when called for, without a reference note as in the case of relative pitch.
The reason why I include this topic under listening skills is because both relative and perfect pitch can be obtained by means of training your ear to listen. A lot of people think that perfect pitch is a 'gift', either you are born with it or you are not born with it. The key to obtain perfect pitch is to listen to the 'colour' of individual notes. For example, a high frequency tends to be sharper than a low frequency; the comparison is relative pitch, while listening to the characteristics is training your ear towards perfect pitch. 90-125Hz has characteristics of a boomer sound, 5-8kHz has characteristics of sibilance. Likewise for musical notes, they have their own characteristics or 'colour'.
Musically speaking, there are 12 musical notes in an octave; counting from note A, then A#, then B and so on ending with G#. Each of these notes has a distinct tone difference. Do not try to listen to just the frequency characteristics, because a musical note A at 440 Hz has a lower frequency than a higher musical note A at 880 Hz. Rather, try to listen for the difference in the tones of these 12 musical notes within an octave. A lower musical note A has the same tone characteristics as the next higher musical note A.
Start by playing the musical note C and 'think and feel' the note then play it softer, then 'think and feel' it again then sing out that note. Then move up half a note C# and start over. Pause between the two (just enough time to rest your ear, not to forget the note) and do this in a relaxed manner. Subsequently after moving up to the last note, progress to playing individual notes of a chord with the respective root notes. Remember: it is not comparing a C to a D note to listen to its higher frequency characteristic. If you do this, you are training your relative pitch. Moreover, if someone would to play a D note in a lower octave, you would then be confused. For example, it is like seeing an electrocardiogram of your heartbeat: the shape is the same (the tone of the note) regardless of how fast your heart beats (the frequency of the same note). The tone of the note is what you should be listening for. It is like listening for the timbre of individual instruments that distinguish the sound of a guitar to a piano even if the same note is played on the instrument. Pay attention to the tone of the note, and when you 'understand' what you are listening for, you will catch it.
12.0 The Weapon of Our Warfare
12.1 Proclaiming What You Hear and Believe
Romans 10:15-17 (KJV)
"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
As Christians, we need to constantly hear the preaching of God's Word. Read it to yourself if need be. Let whatever you read from God's Word become revelation knowledge to you as the Holy Spirit reveals and teaches you. Let His Word become such strong beliefs in you that it builds you up, so that it becomes easy to practice His Word when His principles become your principles.
John 1:1-4 (KJV)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men."
12.2 Affecting Lives and Atmosphere Around You
Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Moreover the Word says in John 1:4-5 "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
Matthew 5:14-17 says, "…Ye are the light of the world…" So how are we to be or shine forth this 'light'? In verse 16 lies the answer: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works" Your words and deeds have the power of life in them; not your life but His. Speak His Word, showing love, compassion mixed with sincerity and realness.
It does not take much effort to see darkness around you. Neither does it take much effort to shine your light around you. Ask Jesus to enlarge your heart.
You are God's weapon- The Melchizedek Psalmist.