Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - The Story Behind "Living Manna"

In the months that followed our car accident, we were riddled with ongoing concerns - some physical, some financial, and all emotional. We had already left Nashville, and were hunkered down in my parents' home for a few months to heal and regain our footing. I found myself sitting up very late one night, consumed by my worries. As I sat in the quiet of the living room, I needed to be reminded of God's daily presence in our lives.

I thought about the story of the manna in the Old Testament. God only provided enough sustenance for the day, not simply to provide the necessary nourishment, but to teach the people that He would show up tomorrow. God could be trusted to provide for us today, tomorrow, and every day.

The word "manna" drifted around in my brain, and paired with the words from the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread."

As a lover of Easter, I believe strongly in the Living God, so suddenly, the words started to form a pattern:

Living manna, living bread...

A verse formed...

The second verse wanted to follow the same pattern, and 'water' and 'blood' seemed to be the natural progression. A recent conversation about the need for the Trinity in worship songs came to mind, and the third verse found its theme. As the night drifted on, the lyric took shape...

As I wrote the words, a lilting melody came to mind. In the early hours of the morning, I finished Living Manna.

I kept it to myself for several weeks. "Just a little song for me," I thought. A trusted friend and worship leader came to visit, and we started sharing songs. She asked if I'd been writing, and I sheepishly pulled out my new lyric and melody. As I sang, she started to play on the piano. We sang Living Manna over and over and over.

I finally shared the song with Gerald, who wrote a beautiful guitar arrangement. We sang it in concerts and during worship, especially during Communion services. Eventually, Living Manna earned a spot on our debut Infinitely More recording.

Today, we share Living Manna everywhere we go, reminding each of us that we have a God who feeds us, who cleanses us, and who is complete.

I recently asked my Dad to take photos 
inspired by the words in the song. 

Here's the brand new lyric video for Living Manna:

We're spending the winter as Musicians in Residence at All Saints Church in beautiful St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick. 
Follow our adventures at 

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Hosting a Youth Group Songwriting Night

One request of All Saints Church was giving musical support and resources to their youth group. Even though a few teens play instruments, the group hasn't done any musical actives in the past. We wanted an event where everyone could participate, so we decided to have a group songwriting night.

Our first task was simply to get the conversation started, so after the welcome meal, we gathered around in a circle and started asking questions about God and church.

What do you like about church? 
What don't you like? 
What do you get out of youth group? 
Do you see a place for yourselves in worship?

As the teens talked, we gathered the ideas on a large flip chart, so everyone could the see their collected thoughts. Next, we looked for a theme. Community was a big one, as was connectedness. We talked about the importance of a hook. Not simply a title, but an idea that would serve as the cornerstone for the whole song. From our notes, we pulled the hook "Connected to the Life."

Next, we flipped over a new piece of paper, and talked about song form. They understand the basics of verse and chorus, so we found a strong place for our hook in the chorus, and started to build. As they saw the hook on the paper, the lyrics began to flow quickly. Soon it was time to create a verse. We went back to our original brainstorming.

Which of these original ideas would lead to our chorus? 
How could we shape them into lines? 
Could we make them rhyme?

We had a verse and a chorus - so what about music? Gerald pulled out his guitar and started playing with ideas. He gave them a few options, and the rock/pop melody with grinding electric guitar was the unanimous favourite.

After a few passes, our song was done!

We wrote out the lyric so the whole group could sign it. We invited the parents in to hear our results. And we gained permission to share the song during this week's Wednesday and Sunday services.

Our songwriting team!

I love this activity for older kids and teens. It allows them to share their own thoughts and ideas. It explores creativity and language. Because it's a group write, no one person has to carry the full pressure of a completed song. If your group has a number of musicians, you can teach them to perform the song and use it in worship. And perhaps most importantly, it allows your youth to discover, and your congregation to hear, the worship voice of our young people.

What are some music activities you've done with youth groups?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments section...

We're spending January and February as Musicians in Residence at All Saints Church in beautiful St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick. 
Follow our adventures at 

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

St. Andrews By-the-Sea Concert

We've been having such a great time here in St. Andrews, 
we've decided to host a concert for the community!

If you're in New Brunswick, or have friends in the area, 
please join us for this special night!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Hosting a First Band Rehearsal

This week, we're trying something bold for the Parish of St. Andrews - we're starting a worship band!

Worship bands are nothing new, but in this church, a band is a very new concept. Until now, music has been exclusively led by organ and choir, with the occasional guest musician. We know there are instrumentalists in the congregation, but getting them to stretch outside their comfort zones and help us lead worship has been a new challenge.

Last night, we hosted our first rehearsal, and tonight, we'll debut the band in worship.

Bringing a group of musicians together for the very first time has some unique challenges, so here are some things we've tried to help make the first rehearsal a success:

Learn About Your Team
We're new to this parish, so we've spent the last few weeks just getting to know the musicians. Some have come for private lessons, which has been great. Others have joined us in jam sessions, or have grabbed us for conversations after church. We've tried to get a sense of who reads music, who learns by ear, who is super confident, and who might need a little encouragement. All of this helps us work with the players as individuals to make the most of their talents and offerings.

Set Everyone Up For Success
This is our mantra for working with a band or choir! As you learn about your team, you'll learn each player's strengths and weaknesses. Use this knowledge to put each player in a place to succeed. If you have a highly skilled player, give them a chance to solo and really use their talents in a full way. If you have a beginner player, ask them what songs feel comfortable to them, and then feature them on a special number.

Start With Prayer
We're not just leading music, we're leading worship. We begin each rehearsal with prayer to give thanks for our talents, to offer them back to God, and to remind us of our role as worship leaders.

Share The Roadmap
At the start of each song, share the roadmap of the song. Let the players know the intro and ending, where the repeats happen, and any special notations. A seasoned band will start to know these things instinctually, but in the beginning, mark these things out clearly. Knowing where you're going at the start of the song will help everyone feel more confident and unified.

Allow Lots of Time
We didn't know what to expect with this first rehearsal, so we allowed plenty of time. Our rehearsal was held on a different day than the service, so we didn't feel the pressure of having to play the songs that night. We also started with only 2 songs, instead of the full 5 song set. This meant we could really take time to work the material. After working through details, we played each song several times to get used to listening to each other and following Gerald's guitar lead.

Remember to Check In 
As a band grows in unity, asking questions should become second nature, but on a first rehearsal, people can feel a little overwhelmed. Instead of asking for help, they may just keep silent, affecting both the music and their experience of the rehearsal. Be sure to check in with each player throughout the rehearsal, especially when you've asked them to take the lead on something, or if you know the song is new for them.

We're spending January and February as Musicians in Residence at All Saints Church in beautiful St. Andrews By-The-Sea, New Brunswick. 
Follow our adventures at 

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Our "Artisans" Interview!

Just after we arrived here in St. Andrews, we were interviewed for a local TV show called "Artisans". The show features local and visiting musicians to Charlotte County, New Brunswick.

The show generously allowed us to post the interview to our YouTube channel.

Here's the entire show. You can watch our interview, and at 20:33, 
we sing our song, "There's A Light At The End Of The Tomb."