Worship Leading not Performing, Selahs, Moravians

I felt like I needed to write some things about worship and specifically worship leading. Just like a leader who oversees a service so a worship leader is overseeing a segment of that service. Worship is about 50% of every service and good flowing worship will either prepare hearts or make hearts distant from God.

Worship is to be an expression of the heart and for a worship leader their heart must be right to lead others and release others hearts as well. If a worship leader is distant from God or not connected then the only place you can lead people is into that disconnect as well. As my son says the only place you lead people is to the place you are at.

In scripture the worship leaders in David’s Tabernacle were called “masters of the song”. This in Hebrew translates “Carries of the prophetic burden” Worship is more than songs being sung or a time for a person to perform or showcase themselves, but worship is fulfilling an ongoing plan of God of connecting with His people and His people connecting with him.

The practical’s need to be in place before we go into deeper veins of spontaneous free flowing worship. Some of these are introducing new songs after familiars songs are sung. Avoid long instrumentation, unless an atmosphere of reflection has been established. Seeing what songs are “connecting’ or have an anointing upon them for that time and then working around these. Also songs with lots of words, or musical transitions, a lot of times stop the flow of worship in a person heart. This has more to deal with selection and song writing but is something to be aware of. Also knowing when a set is over by judging the room and if people are connected or not. Just because there is a song set does not mean that set has to be done.

The goal of worship is not to practice worship, perform worship, or get your own way as a worship leader, but to bring people into an encounter with God and make an atmosphere that people can express their hearts. In other words the practical’s need done before we move onto greater things.

There are three descriptions about what we sing in scripture. A psalm is a prewritten set piece of music. A hymn is a spontaneous singing of past songs. A spiritual song is spontaneous singing of a new song. A new song is the place of life, and the breath of God is released into people’s hearts.

Once we are doing the practical’s we then can move on into spontaneous songs and specifically the technique of the Selah’s. The word Selah is generally translated a pause or reflection. A further examination of the word we actually see it has those descriptions but it means to hold the musical pause or reflection under tension until the next prophetic dimension is released. It actually has nothing to do with mediating upon what has been said etc.  Since worship leaders are carriers of a prophetic burden it would make sense that prophetic tensions would be part of leading in songs. Worship leaders need to learn to hold these tensions until the next one is released to maintain an ongoing ever expanding dynamic of worship in a worship set.

The Moravian’s were skillful in both creating these spontaneous songs and also in holding prophetic tensions with instruments. Their understanding of these tensions made them seek ways to hold tensions with instruments and hence they invented the pipe organ and the trombone among others.  The Moravian’s were the first to establish 24 hour worship and maintained it for almost 100 years! To be a worship leader in their meeting you had to be able to connect 15 hymns in a row with a spontaneous song in between each one! This creative flow they operated in, led them to building instruments for musical tensions, and the spontaneous creative flow opened a door way of 3500 new songs being released yearly. Because of the heart of worship being so deep in them they memorized both the music and words to all of these. Think of that next time you have to look at an overhead while in worship and let’s open up greater dimensions of worship in our hearts much like the Moravian’s and their followers.


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