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Devotional Warm-Ups for the Church Choir: Preparing to Lead Others in Worship

Devotional Warm-Ups for the Church Choir: Preparing to Lead Others in Worship

by Kenneth W. Osbeck

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A variety of forty-three challenging devotionals on ten different musically oriented topics designed to provide helpful biblical insights for the spiritual enrichment of individual church choir members.


A variety of forty-three challenging devotionals on ten different musically oriented topics designed to provide helpful biblical insights for the spiritual enrichment of individual church choir members.

Product Details

Kregel Publications
Publication date:
Training for Leadership in Worship Ser.
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Product dimensions:
4.28(w) x 6.94(h) x 0.23(d)

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Devotional Warm-Ups for the Church Choir

By Kenneth W. Osbeck

Kregel Publications

Copyright © 2016 Kenneth W. Osbeck
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4423-4


September: Week 1

The Marvel of the Human Voice

Respect and Concern

My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You. (Ps. 71:23)

The voice is one of God's choicest gifts to humanity. It gives us the ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings vocally. One of the important arguments in support of creationism — that humankind bears the image of God and is not the result of mere chance evolution — is that only humanity has been given the ability to communicate an organized language with a voice. Even more, we can enhance our verbal and emotional expressions with musical sounds of pitch, duration, harmonies — we can sing!

The psalmist exclaimed: "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14). Part of the awe-inspiring and marvelous makeup of our bodies is the voice. We do not need to understand all of the scientific intricacies of our vocal mechanism to appreciate the wonder of communication. One of life's most difficult burdens is simply the loss of the human voice.

"It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful" (Ps. 147:1). There is a personal therapeutic value for the individual who learns to enjoy the activity of singing. It is also an activity that pleases God. Because singing is normal human behavior, almost without exception everyone can learn to sing.

The voice, researchers tell us, is one of the best reflections of the personality, for it reveals the real "you" of any person. It follows, then, that developing oneself as an individual should improve the voice — and, in turn, that improving the voice should make a better person.

Choir members should learn to treat their voices with respect and to take proper care of this choice instrument. To sing well on Sunday requires not only musical and spiritual preparation but also adequate rest on Saturday night. A singer must be careful not to strain the voice with overuse before the Sunday services. It is also important to eat and drink properly prior to singing. If hoarseness and laryngitis persist, one should seek professional medical advice.

Above all, choir members need to be in tune with God with their mind and heart, so that the voice will reflect the genuineness of their personal relationship with the Creator.

Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known; join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne.

— Isaac Watts

Group Discussion

In what ways can our voices reflect our physical, emotional, and spiritual condition? If our individual hearts and voices are not singing, what might this possibly say about our total view of life? If this congregation does not sing well, what can this reflect about our church life?

Suggested Group Singing

"Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," No. 51 in 101 Hymn Stories "In My Heart There Rings a Melody," No. 45 in 101 More Hymn Stories


The voice you are born with is God's gift to you; the use of your voice is your gift to God.

Oh God of creation, thank You for the gift of my voice. Thank You for the opportunity to use it for Your glory during this new choir season. Together may our voices and our lives blend well that we may offer You the praise You deserve. May the sounds of our voices be pleasing to You. We pray this in Your Son's holy name. Amen.

September: Week 2

The Marvel of the Human Voice

Instrument of Highest Praise

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (Ps. 150:6)

The human voice is not only a choice gift of God to humanity; it is in turn an instrument of sublime worth for us to use in offering praise to the Almighty. Through song we can express our loftiest thoughts about God and His creation. Not all of us may be able to sing tunefully, but when opportunities are presented, everyone in whom the Spirit of God dwells can and should respond with joyful praise.

The human voice is the most perfect of all musical instruments. We never cease to thrill at hearing the rich resonance of a low voice or the lilting, soaring beauty of a lovely tenor or soprano. All manmade musical instruments are mere imitations of the human voice. The psalmist declared, "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations" (Ps. 89:1). God is glorified when our voices are raised in praise of Him. "Whoever offers praise glorifies Me" (Ps. 50:23).

Praise is the predominant theme of the Scriptures. The first reference to music in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:21: "His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute." The musician's roots, then, can be traced way back to Jubal, who is mentioned in concert with the one who first raised food (Jabal) and the one who first fabricated tools for industrial use (Tubal-Cain). Thus, from the very beginning days of humankind, God made provision for the aesthetic — the soul expressions of humanity through music.

Furthermore, all important interventions of God with humankind are accompanied by some form of praise: creation (Job 38:7), the incarnation (Luke 2:8–14), our personal salvation experience (Luke 15:7), Christ's return (1 Cor. 15:52), His eternal reign (Rev. 19:6–8). Even as God accompanies, with music, all of His encounters with humanity, we, as redeemed people, have the privilege of worshipping Him with voices of praise now and of preparing for our prime occupation throughout eternity. Until that day, may we know in part the joy of glorifying God, as we join our voices in praise of Him, who died that we might live to sing eternally.

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him! Who can tell how much we owe Him? Gladly let us render to Him All we are and have.

— Thomas Kelly

Group Discussion

Why is a believer's "praise life" so important to one's own general well-being? How can our praise life be improved both individually and corporately? In what ways besides singing can we offer praise to the Lord? How can the praise of God through singing be called a part of God's eternal praise?

Suggested Group Singing

"O for a Thousand Tongues," No. 65 in 101 Hymn Stories "Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above," No. 81 in 101 Hymn Stories


Those who sincerely praise God will soon discover within their souls an inclination to praise goodness in their fellow creatures.

Creator God, thank You for giving us the gift of song. Thank You for making our very voices instruments of your praise. With the angels announcing Your birth and the saints surrounding Your throne, we give our voices back to you as an offering of worship. May the songs of our lips bring joy to you, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

September: Week 3

The Marvel of the Human Voice

Instrument of Healing

In the night His song shall be with me. (Ps. 42:8)

Most believers have at some time experienced the healing power of sacred music. They have come to a church service with their hearts filled with fear and anxiety or their spirits drooping with an onslaught of depression. Some have been forced to go through unusual physical, financial, or emotional difficulties throughout the past week. The daily demands of living have produced a mountain of despondency. But then is heard a triumphant anthem of praise, a majestic hymn of worship, or a simple gospel song that reminds them of God's nearness and guidance. Their burdens are lifted, their minds become clear, their fragile emotions are mended, and their hearts once again are able to sing, as they return to their busy world of activity.

In this way the voice becomes an instrument of healing. Life's deepest emotions — joy, love, sorrow — are often best expressed with a song (Job 30:31; Isa. 30:29). Therefore, choir members are called to be ministers, not performer-entertainers. They are to care for the spiritual and emotional needs of God's people through the vehicle of music — to provide songs of comfort and encouragement for the night seasons of life. The verb minister is derived from the Hebrew word that means "to share." Choir members are, therefore, involved in a humble yet exalted service associated with the spiritual activities of ministering. They are directing needy and often hurting lives to the One who is the ultimate source of all true comfort and contentment. In the service of God there is no place for a "superstar." The calling for each of us is simply that of a humble servant — a reflector of the Son! "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matt. 20:27–28).

As we minister God's healing to others through music, our own emotions will be purged and our hearts will be lifted. We feel refreshed after a service of worship in which we have truly ministered. There is a personal therapy, not only for those who hear but also for those who minister spiritually with sacred song.

May we always be sensitive to the needs of others and willing to share comfort and encouragement, even as troubled Saul was restored through the healing music of the psalmist David (1 Sam. 16).

Come, you disconsolate, where'er ye languish; come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel. Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish; earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal.

— Thomas Moore and Thomas Hastings

Group Discussion

Share an experience of when a song was especially helpful to you spiritually.

When we sing, how can we feel more strongly and empathize more fully with the cares, joys, and concerns of this congregation?

Suggested Group Singing

"From Every Stormy Wind That Blows," No. 24 in 101 Hymn Stories "Near to the Heart of God," No. 63 in 101 More Hymn Stories


Satan fears music as much as the strong preaching of the Word, since music drives the devil away and makes people happy.

— Martin Luther

Dear Father, we know You are our great healer. Thank You that we can serve alongside You, reflecting Your Son as we minister to Your people through the healing power of sacred song. Teach us to be humble servants, sensitive to the needs of others. Use our voices to bring comfort, encouragement, and the assurance of Your nearness. We ask in Jesus's name. Amen.

September: Week 4

The Marvel of the Human Voice

Instrument of Witness

I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. (Ps. 57:9)

The music of the church should always be a compelling witness to the nonbeliever. Hymns of worship exalt God as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. Anthems of praise tell the unsaved world what God is like. Songs of testimony are a means of telling the non-Christian about the happiness, peace, and forgiveness that come to those who place their trust in Christ. And joyous gospel songs personalize the truth that Christ died for them. One of the strongest impacts we believers can make upon unbelievers attending our services is to make them aware of a congregation that is sincerely absorbed in worship and the proclamation of truth through sacred song. Too often the non-Christian sees merely a group of apathetic spectators waiting to be entertained.

In Muskegon, Michigan, there was a small neighborhood church where the pastor, saved from an early life of playing the trumpet for a jazz band in Chicago, appreciated in an unusual way the power of music to testify of Christ. His Sunday evening services were always characterized by enthusiastic, cheerful singing. In the summertime he would say, "Open the windows. We're not ashamed to have our neighbors hear about Christ." During the course of his ministry, several families began attending services and eventually became Christians, because they were attracted to the gospel through the witness of music.

As a choir, we should assume that there are unbelievers in every service. The songs we choose and the vitality with which we sing will be a witness to those who hear. If we view the congregation as merely an audience of spectators to be entertained, we will miss the unique opportunity before us to make an impact for Christ. As we sing, we must always see people as those for whom the Savior died, as individuals walking in darkness, who need to be directed to the One who alone is the Light of Life. And may the nonbelievers who are present see and hear an authentic gospel that is clearly demonstrated by those who claim to believe it.

We've a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord, a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword.

— H. Ernest Nichol

Group Discussion

Share an instance when you knew that a sacred song was a witness in influencing a person's decision to become a Christian. In what ways can music be rightly used as a tool for witnessing? Is it possible to use music wrongly as an influence to reach the unsaved — for example, as a manipulator of human emotions?

Suggested Group Singing

"I Love to Tell the Story," No. 37 in 101 Hymn Stories "Room at the Cross for You," No. 74 in 101 More Hymn Stories


Singing does at least as much as preaching to impress the Word of God upon people's minds.

— D. L. Moody

Dear God, may our voices and our lives blend well as we praise You. Keep us from thinking of ourselves only as singer-performers. Help us rather to be witnesses for Christ and proclaimers of the good news. May we ever sing with sincerity and reality. Use our music this year, we pray, to be a clear witness to some unbelievers about Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.


October: Week 1

Music and the Old Testament

A Way of Life

Praise the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him. (Ps. 33:2)

The pages of the Old Testament are alive with the sounds of music. In fact, Jewish history is synonymous with song. From the joyous songs of the Exodus onward, the deep religious feelings of the Jewish faithful were made known in song and dance. And no person contributed more to the role of music in Jewish life than King David, who is known as the "sweet singer of Israel." The entire book of Psalms is believed to have been a book of Jewish worship and praise songs in their original form. In marked contrast to the contemporary pagan religions of that day, the Israelites were known for their exalted use of music in the worship of the one true God, Jehovah.

The joy of Jewish song was stilled temporarily during the Babylonian exile. One of the songs, Psalm 137, records their sad laments during that time. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah to rebuild the temple, happy singing returned. Music was always an important indicator of Israel's relationship with God. Whenever it was absent from the service of Jehovah, it marked a time of judgment and spiritual desolation.

Music was an integral part of Old Testament life. It was the natural expression of the lifestyle for the Israelites on every occasion, both secular and religious.

Religious — worship for Israel found its richest expression in music (1 Chron. 15:14, 27–28; 16:4–7, 23–30; 25:1–31; 2 Chron. 30:21; Neh. 12:45–47).

Social — important social occasions such as weddings were made more significant through music (1 Chron. 15:29; Jer. 7:34).

Funereal — music used at times of mourning as well as times of gladness. Note the dirge (funeral song) sung by David on the deaths of Saul and Jonathon (2 Sam. 1:18–27). It became customary to hire professional musicians to assist at funerals (Matt. 9:23).

Economic — important times related to the prosperity of the Jews, such as grape gatherings and grain harvests, were celebrated with music (Isa. 16:10; 27:2; Jer. 48:33).

Political — when a king was crowned, great sounds of music helped celebrate the coronations (1 Kings 1:39–40; 2 Kings 9:13; 11:14; 2 Chron. 23:11–13). When military victories were celebrated, the people expressed their joy with voices and instruments (Exod. 15:1–21; Judg. 5:1–31; 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6–7; 2 Chron. 20:21–22, 27–28).

Yes, the Old Testament pages echo with the sound of music, a natural response for God's people in any age to express their deepest feelings of joy, gratitude, and praise — a way of life!

Group Discussion

Though it is important to sing in church, why is it even more important that Christians carry their song into every area of life?

Suggested Group Singing

"It Is Well with My Soul," No. 44 in 101 Hymn Stories "Satisfied," No. 75 in 101 More Hymn Stories


Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a living presence. This realization can turn any gloom into a song.

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Dear heavenly Father, help me to carry the music of this church into my daily living. May my life be characterized with Your joy. Show me when my witness for You is weakened by a wrong attitude. And let the music of our choir challenge each believer with the goal of victorious, joyful living that will ever glorify You. In Jesus's name. Amen.


Excerpted from Devotional Warm-Ups for the Church Choir by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Copyright © 2016 Kenneth W. Osbeck. Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Kenneth W. Osbeck (MA, University of Michigan) taught for thirty-five years, first at Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, and then at Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary. He also served as music director for Children’s Bible Hour, Radio Bible Class, and several churches. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions; 101 Hymn Stories; Hallelujah, What a Savior!; 25 Most Treasured Gospel Hymn Stories; and Joy to the World.

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