In every worship leader’s life, there’s a constant stream of things being learned. From learning how to dress on stage to learning how to use a mixer, the worship leader never stops learning. For those new to leading worship, especially if you’re not exactly the large-crowd type of person, the speaking parts of the service (such as song transitions) are met with some anxiety. Song transitions can especially be a rough point because of their necessity. As our moods transition throughout the service, the worship needs to reflect that. Imagine the difficulty in leading worship if there were no transitions: the congregation would receive several different messages at a rapid-fire pace! Transitions can also give the rest of the worship team a chance to prepare themselves for the next song.
How do I lead the congregation? Will I come on too strongly? Am I enthusiastic enough? What do I say?
Rest assured that the above questions are natural. Many times, your fears are unfounded. However, it never hurts to work on your transitions so you are as comfortable doing them as possible.
Before you figure out what you want to say (or play) to transition, you must first learn about the different types of transitions. Most worship leaders recognize two types of transitions: musical and spoken.
- The musical transition is one that requires rehearsal, quick hands, and the ability to multitask. When a worship leader uses this transition, they will find one chord that the first song has in common with the second and use the chord to connect the two songs, often while talking a bit to give the other musicians preparation time. Example: After “Meet us Here” in the key of D, you sing “Our God” in the key of G. The songs have three chords in common: E minor, D, and G. After ending the first song, you continue strumming the D, then play G, then speed up your tempo and play E minor in the tempo of “Our God”. That’s when you launch into the intro. While doing this, you can say something like, “We pray that God’s spirit may come upon us tonight, amen? We are His people, and He is our God.”
- The next transition is known as the spoken transition. This transition works well if the two songs have wildly different tempos, moods, or keys. For instance: “Mercy” by Parachute Band followed by “The Joy of the Lord” by Twila Paris. When a worship leader uses this transition, they will end the song on a chord and connect the two songs with scripture, an anecdote, a prayer, or a brief admonition. Example: The leader transitions between “Jesus Son of God” in the key of G (capo on first fret)) to “I Will Trust in You” in the key of D. Obviously, a stop is necessary, so the leader takes off the capo after the ending chord of the first song. They will fill the transition with something like: “Praise God for sending His Son. He is our salvation in trouble, the one we trust with our lives.”
My church’s worship leader uses the spoken transition most often because it fits his leading style and the style of the congregation better. It’s up to the worship leader to find his/her style so they can be as effective as possible. Remember: as a worship leader, you are not only bringing your heart to God, but you are also connecting the people to God. Out of the 168 hours in the week, this is the only hour some of the congregation dedicates to God. Use your gift. I promise that you will do well if you desire to serve.