Effective Service Playing: The Partnership between Organist and Congregation

Presented by David Kriewall

In this resource, principles of orchestral wind playing and communication between conductor and players are applied to the organist’s tasks of playing hymns and liturgy. We’ll consider topics such as phrasing, tempo, articulation, cueing, and registration, and apply them to tough spots in a sampling of hymns. Although geared toward organists, the session will be useful to anyone who wants to understand the organist’s musical goals or to improve singing in worship.

This resource is an online masterclass for organists, delivered by a video and a PowerPoint file. (Those who can’t view the PPT file can use the PDF version instead). This masterclass is like a group lesson that seeks to deepen knowledge of musical choices and to improve performers’ ability to play in a way that best supports congregational singing. This video invites organists to explore a variety of issues related to effective service playing. It’s valuable both for those who have had years of lessons and for those who are largely self-taught. It’s not a video to view quickly in one sitting. It’s something to study and ponder with hymnal in hand and trying out some of the performance examples during a practice session.

David is a member of Calvary in Bellevue, WA, where he has served as organist for over 30 years. He studied horn at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and organ in Germany as well as at the University of Washington (Seattle), where he received his MMus in organ performance in 2014. He has played horn professionally with orchestras in Germany, Chicago, and Seattle. He is serving as editor of Christian Worship: Musician’s Manual, part of the WELS hymnal project.

Other helpful resources, including Organist 101, are available in the Musicians: Organ and Piano section of the worship resource center.

W004 – Worship Led by a Modern Ensemble

This module demonstrates the potential of leading worship with an ensemble consisting of piano, guitar, bass, hand percussion, and various solo instruments. The focus is on songs of the liturgy, psalms, and hymns – some of which will be included in the new WELS hymnal. Interviews with pastor and musicians also give a rationale for their approach.

For more on sound systems, see Worship the Lord vol. 100 – Audio, Acoustics, and Video in the Worship Setting – Part 3: Sound System Layout and Setup.

The worship folder for the service in the video can be found under the “Downloads” tab.

We plan to provide some study guides in the future. But until those are available, the video speaks for itself quite well.

W015 – Children Making Music

This module encourages the next generation of musicians. Three videos address three different audiences: children, parents, and church/school leaders. The videos show youth participating in what Martin Luther called “an outstanding gift of God,” second only to theology. They can help children and parents gain an appreciation for music as a vehicle for  proclaiming the Gospel. But the focus isn’t only on church music. Studies point to a link between music education and academic achievement. Children involved in music tend to be more involved in reading and other academic pursuits. Belonging to a music group can also help children strengthen self-esteem and friendships.


The videos are found under the download tab.