Pete and Repeat – Why Repetition Is Important in Worship
March 29, 2011 7 Comments
Have you ever heard anyone ask the question why today’s worship music has so much repetition in it? Have you ever asked that question? I’ve definitely heard these over the ten years I’ve been leading worship. It’s hard to explain to those older generations that there is a purpose to repetition. I’ve tried my best and over the years there are four reasons I have came up with. These are for those with inquiring minds.
- Memorization – I think this is an obvious reason for repetition. We memorize scripture by repeating it constantly throughout the day. We write it on cards and post them everywhere so we can read it and repeat it. Why not the same with worship songs? There are times when people feel like church is not the ideal place to be; sometimes a worship song is rather dull during the service, you have “ought” with a brother, you’d rather sleep in. But there are times when your out away from church and a song gets stuck in your head, and in some minimalistic kind of way, it brightens and helps you through your day. Fortunately that stubborn ole worship leader wouldn’t quit repeating that one line so now it’s stuck in your head, at work. But your worshiping God with it, because it’s the only line you remember of the song.
- Meditation – Meditation is another way to say ‘to dwell upon’. Meditating on worship lyrics as you sing them over and over is beneficial because it teaches you to think about what your singing. We don’t just sing songs in church because we want to be entertained. We sing songs as a form or worship. We pray in song. We encourage in song. We lift up and bless the church in song. So when we meditate on the repeated choruses we are planting that message in us. Colossians 3:16 says “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” To dwell is another form or meditation.
- Magnify – Things that are of importance are sometimes repeated for emphasis. The angels sing Holy Holy Holy. Jesus said, “Verily Verily”. Why all the repeating? To emphasize importance. Occasionally we sing a chorus a few times in a row to emphasize importance. Sometimes, we sing a line in a song to magnify seriousness. We say it over and over because we mean it, whole heartily! Third time’s a charm, right?
- Maintain – Did you ever have to do write offs in grade school? It’s kind of the same thing. When we repeat a value or lyric or whatever is of importance, we begin to maintain that in our hearts. It’s no longer a value imposed on you but a value you begin to hold. Repetition of lyrics can cause you to maintain a wealth of scriptural obedience and biblical knowledge. You begin to maintain a thought the more you repeat it. That is why we are commanded to “train” up our kids in the way so when the become older they won’t depart. In order to maintain a belief, there has to be repetition of the word. Which is why you return repeatedly to church every Sunday. To maintain your belief. You read your bible and prayer repeatedly everyday, If you didn’t, it would be no time before you’ve slipped away from your disciplines and you begin to doubt your beliefs. We repeat to maintain!
As a worship leader, when I repeat a line, a chorus, or even a song, I’m not doing it because I like to hear myself sing or I just like the song. I repeat it because there is an emphasis on one of these I have outlined. There is a method to my madness per se. I repeat because we need to memorize, meditate, magnify, or maintain.
Can you think of any more reasons.