When I started leading worship at Grace Church, I really didn't have a good understanding of what it meant to assemble a "worship set" with good flow between songs. With Grace Church coming previously from a very traditional, hymn singing style of worship, to integrating "contemporary" worship music was a bit of a challenge. At the time right before I assumed the role of worship leader, our idea of contemporary was buying a praise and worship book that consisted of old Maranatha songs from the 1970's and 1980's. That was bold! Anyway, we've come a long way and so have I. Making a service flow well from song to song was not even a blip on the radar. Now I can't stand to have a service without considering it.
Did you ever sit through a worship service and think, "Man, something about that just didn't seem to feel right"? Apart from maybe not having the spirit of God there, it's quite possible the set of songs chosen didn't flow well from one to the next. Here's where the song choosing can get a little technical.
After the message is determined and some songs have been selected, I then look at the keys of the songs. It's always easier to get from one song to another if they are in the same key. Does that mean the whole praise service should be in the same key? No it doesn't have to be. I like to think about where we might have a welcome, or a prayer, or announcement between songs and use those opportunities to change keys. Here's an example of how I might order a song service:
Not to Us (Key of A)
Meet With Me (Key of A)
Speaking: Welcome guests to the service
How Great is Our God (Key of C)
Lord Most High (Key of D)
Speaking: Pray for Offering
Here I Am to Worship (Key of E)
Now there are times when I will move to a song in a different key without a speaking opportunity. A great technique I've learned through other worship leaders, is making sure to change the key up rather than down. Example: Moving from a song like "Forever" which is in the key of A to another song, you might pick one that is in the key of B. A song like "Blessed Be Your Name" is in the key of B. Of course you always have the liberty to change the key of any song.
If you play an instrument, play a chord progression in the key of A, then move to a chord progression in the key of B. You'll find that seems to feel pleasant to the ear. If you move from A to Ab or G, you'll probably hear a difference. It just doesn't feel right.
I think sometimes when I explain this theory to people, they think I'm over analyzing. To me, that's just the kind of people the church needs to lead them in worship. The goal is to not just entertain, but to create the best opportunities for people to worship their God without getting in the way. Bring excellence in all that you do and God will honor it. Plus it just plain sounds better! Thanks for listening!
Recommended Tool: Leading Worship-Creating Flow with Paul Baloche