School of Music


Master of Arts in Music and Worship (MA)


Lindsey Graham


worship, church, songs, corporate, song, singing, praise, scripture


Liturgy and Worship


Background Church services today incorporate a wide variety of worship music, stylistically and lyrically, depending on the congregation. Some churches place great importance on the gospel being included in the songs, while others focus more on the emotions felt during the songs. While there are churches that maintain an eclectic mix of the two, other churches have a significant imbalance in the worship songs they choose to sing each week. Matt Boswell says, “Every worship experience, in its order and content, is an expression of the congregation’s liturgy. It communicates something about your church, your doctrine, and the order of your priorities.”1 As the local church gathers, there must be a clearer knowledge of why mankind has been created to worship as well as God’s design for worship both corporately and individually. The church gathers to worship vertically, personally, and horizontally. Statement of the Purpose There has been much deliberation on what songs are best for worship within the church. Over the last few decades, personal preference, and not the Word of God, seems to motivate song selection. Scott Connell warns that song choice should not be based upon “popularity, preference or pressure.”2 The purpose of this research paper is to explore God’s design for worship songs within the local church and provide detailed biblical guidance on worship with God. Scholarly wisdom, the Word of God, and church service evaluations are the primary sources for this paper. Response to God through song is evident throughout Scripture. Psalm 57 declares, “I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations” (Psalm 57:9, English Standard Version). God’s Word gives believers guidance on praising God in ways that are pleasing and acceptable to Him. To equip the church family with worship God’s way, worship leaders and pastors must be diligent in telling and retelling the story of Jesus Christ in creative ways. Research Questions Various ways to apply these discoveries will be discussed in detail to assist the church in worshiping God on His terms. Specific research questions include: 1) What does the Bible say about worshiping God’s way? 2) How can the church equip their people better with more biblical worship? What is working? What needs to change? As these questions are explored, the specific focus will be lyrics of hymns and praise songs in general within the church setting. A focused study on Keith and Kristyn Getty’s lives, music writing, and ministry is included in the biblical worship research, as their music is primarily used for the recital portion of this project. Research and Recital Plans The recital will include selections from the Gettys library of music and a few additional songs that fit the model of a five-component worship song assessment. These components include 1) A high view of God, 2) Jesus, the gospel story, 3) My story and personal reflection, 4) Call to Respond, and lastly, 5) The commission. The recital will follow these guidelines.