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- Bob Kauflin -

I. General Comments

A. While songs are not intended to be systematic theology, our songs teach, one way or the other.

1. What God is like.

2. What we are like.

3. How we are to relate to God.

4. What matters most in our relationship with Him.

B. Don’t underestimate the work evaluating songs involves.

1. Not simply a matter of finding what’s current or hot.

2. Not enough to rest on what has worked in the past.

3. Music director of John MacArthur’s church said they look at 60 songs for every one they use.

C. Realize there may be one great song in the midst of many average songs There may be one unusable line in the midst of 20 great lines.

D. Helpful to listen to CD’s or play the song a number of times. Allow songs to settle and become familiar.

E. Use the time you have wisely.

1. Limit your listening to songs that others have used and recommended.

2. Follow up immediately on great songs you hear in other settings.

3. Use trusted resources.

4. Listen while doing other things.

F. Maintain a humble, grateful attitude when evaluating songs

II. Areas to Evaluate:

A. Doctrinal soundness

1. Whenever possible, read the words before listening to a CD, and only consider songs that are lyrically strong.

2. Don’t confuse good production with a good song.

3. Doesn’t undermine any of God’s attributes.

B. God-centeredness

1. Is the exaltation of God the clear purpose of the song?

2. Is subjective expression rooted in objective truth?

3. Not a matter of how often first person pronouns are used, but HOW we use them.

4. Can be sung to or about God.

C. Gospel-centeredness

1. Look for songs that expound the Gospel.

2. Look for songs that mention the cross in different contexts (celebration, repentance, awe, etc.)

D. Singable melody

1. Appropriate range. This is subjective, but generally from a low A to a D.

2. No difficult skips.

3. Variety of range, or located in a “sweet spot” for most voices. (C-G for softer songs, F-C for louder sections)

4. Not overly stylized.

E. Clarity

1. Each line and word can be understood in context.

2. Clear overall theme of the song.

3. Watch for biblical phrases or words that are misapplied.

F. Breadth of relevance

1. How many people could this song appeal to stylistically?

2. How many ways could this song be done?

G. Easy to learn

1. Not a decisive factor, but worth considering.

2. Forego songs that are difficult to learn because they are poorly written.

H. Artistic excellence

1. Lyrically

a. Are the words fresh and creative? Does this song add any new emphasis or perspective to our worship of God?

b. Has there been obvious thought put not only in to the content, but the structure and choice of words?

c. Are images and analogies consistent?

d. Is there a connection between names, titles, thoughts, and pictures?

2. Musically

a. Is there evident creativity and originality?

b. Is the music appealing?

3. Complementary music and lyrics - Sometimes you have great words and mediocre or unfitting melodies or styles.

I. Distracting elements

1. Sometimes words, phrases, melodies, or progressions just sound peculiar or out of place.

2. Seek out the opinion of others when in doubt.

J. Corporate vs. individual

1. Is the focus consistent (I/We, Me/Us)?

2. If from an individual perspective, songs should still have a corporate voice.

III. Other Factors to Consider

A. Topics the church is learning or going to learn about.

B. Subject material that is lacking or weak in your repertoire.

C. Songs of different styles and tempos

D. Musical state of the church. Is the need simplicity or complexity?

E. Skill level of your vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as time available to practice.

F. Desires of your pastor(s).