Few moments in my life are better than when I'm belting out
a song on stage at the top of my lungs just after pulling off a great guitar
solo. This happens regardless of the stage I'm on...including our church stage.
It must be a common feeling since many recent worship songs seem to be designed
so worship guys can wail their voices and guitars...pouring every ounce of
energy from the stage into the audience.
The songs are fast, guitar-driven, and in a key optimal for
someone like me; a guitar-playing tenor who loves riffing and singing high,
loud, fast, and energetic. When the song is done, I feel invigorated because
I've given all I have to help the audience enter into an immersive worship
It's an awesome way to serve.
...Or is it?
While I think I'm a servant, am I really a savage?
Let me explain...
This struggle of servant/savage has been rattling around in
my head for a couple years, and maybe I'm extra sensitive because I live with a
true worship leader...my wife. For her, some of these
awesome-songs-for-guy-rockers-to-sing are not invigorating at all...they're
frustrating. Turns out that many of these songs are just too high to sing…and
instead of being immersed in worship, many women are immersed in frustration.
I've noticed it too. When I'm in the audience and singing
away happily, I sometimes stop, look around, and see many of the women are not
singing. They're somewhat involved, but they could be immersed at such a deeper
The final straw for me was last week when I lead the student
worship band. The group picked a song, I listened to the CD, liked it, and
practiced. The result? Awkwardness. The female worship leader was very
uncomfortable singing the chorus because it was just too high.
It didn't even occur to me to run through the song with my
wife. Now, that's not surprising because of my well-documented lack of concern
for most all other people, but for some reason being the cause of this awkward
worship moment really bothers me.
I'd like to think I was just being naive.
But to be honest, I wonder if I was being something worse?
Did I choose the song key because it was fun for me? Did it sit in a great
range for my voice? Was I choosing the song not based on how it would help both
men and women enter into deep worship, but because I'd have more fun performing
it in that key? Or maybe because I'd sound/look better performing it?
Am I really a savage?
If I put my personal benefits above providing a song
designed for women to worship through, how different is that from when women
weren't allowed to worship at all…or were treated as property? Do I have a
sense of privilege that because it's ME singing and preparing the songs that
I'm entitled to do the song any way I please?
Am I actively (savagely) preventing women from deep worship
solely because the melody is too high? By feeling entitled to play the song
that's best for me, am I being selfish, arrogant, and disrespectful to the
women in our church?
If I can convince myself that my song/key choice is not for
my personal benefit, then am I putting too much weight on the entertainment
value? When confronted with the opportunity to change keys of a song so it's
singable by all, I instantly think one of these excuses:
- "Well, the
artist wrote it like this" (the "artistic integrity" excuse)
- "Ya, but in
that key it loses all its energy" (the "why make all suffer rather
than half" excuse)
- "I just
don't have time and the band doesn't know those chords very well" ( the
"I'm really just lazy" excuse)
- "The song
has such a big range, changing the key makes the verses too low for men"
(the "I love this song even though it's not really a worship song"
I'm starting to wonder: If we as men are to love women like
Jesus loved the church, wouldn't our primary purpose be to do whatever it takes
to enable women enter into deep worship? Shouldn't we as male worship leaders
be OK singing a song with a smackrel less energy so that woman can enter into
deep worship, too? I know it's a sacrifice, but I think Jesus showed how far
sacrifice could go, and He went a tad beyond singing a song in a lower key.
I'll be the first to admit that if we're attending a stadium
concert, these songs are perfect. The purpose of a concert is to move the
listener, entertain, and create memories. However, if we're in a church
service, and the primary purpose is to enter into deep worship, then shouldn't
the songs be in a key that is decent for both men and women? And if the songs
have such a big range that they really can't be changed, maybe they're just
horrible worship songs? Further, shouldn't we as songwriters be writing songs
tailored to women singing? I know. It's hard. I've been writing songs for 27
years and it's always hard for me to pick a key that works great for my wife to
One final thought...something intriguing…
…as I've re-keyed worship songs when my wife leads, it turns
out that if a song is comfortable for an average woman to sing, men can sing it
I wonder…did God design our vocal chords knowing that if men
wrote songs as a servant for woman to worship through, we'd at the same time be
writing songs that we could all worship through? Is the offset of male/female
vocal ranges specifically designed so that men would need to serve women in
order for all of us to enter into deep worship together?
What do you think?