How To Cue The Congregation About What Part Of The Song Comes Next (Podcast Ep. 23)

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As a worship pastor or worship leader, you are also a song leader. That means you are directing the arrangement of the song. (Go back to Episode 9 for an in-depth view of how to arrange songs.)

The only problem is, the congregation doesn’t know your arrangement. Parts of it might be obvious. For instance, at the end of the verse you usually go to the chorus.

But what about at the end of the chorus? Will you repeat the chorus or go to verse 2?

By giving cues, the worshipers will know where your going and will be confident in their singing and worship.

No one out there wants to be heard on their own. They don’t want to start singing the next part of the song when no one else does. So they will stop singing and wait until they know what is coming next.

Cues help them know earlier what part is coming next so they can start the new line or part of the song with confidence. That leads to each individual to engage in worship better, which also leads to a better corporate worship time.

I’ve noticed that a much larger percentage of people actually sing out that first line when they just have to repeat what you just said or sang in your vocal cue.

Plus, I would add that it also helps your band. You should be rehearsing your arrangements. You shouldn’t wing a song and play however you feel at the time. But sometimes your band forgets. Or sometimes you lead into a spontaneous song or part of the song that you haven’t rehearsed. In those cases, vocal cues are really helpful for the band. So how do you give vocal cues and other cues to the congregation and the band.

1. Sing the first few words of the next part of the song

    • This adds musicality, is pleasing to the ear, and lets everyone know where you’re going
    • An example that comes to me that I’ve done a lot is Build My Life
    • Almost every time I go into the chorus, I sing “Sing Holy”
    • At the end of the verses and at the end of the bridge, there’s a nice little gap there where you can give that cue
    • That lets people know I’m going to the chorus and they start singing the chorus right away instead of waiting until halfway through the first line or even the 2nd line of the chorus
    • You also want to be in the same range vocally that the next part of the song is in.

2. Speak the next lines of the song

      • This is where you simply say the first lines of the next part of the song
      • For example say you’re leading Do it Again by Elevation
        • You’re coming up to the chorus “I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains
        • So coming out of the verse, you could say “I’ve seen you move”
        • That cues people as to not only what part of the song is coming, but the exact words that the part starts with

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3. Use Non-Verbal Cues

  • So the cue doesn’t have to be verbal
    • You can cue using an instrument
    • I often use my guitar to cue what part of the song is coming next
    • I can do hard downstrums 1/8 notes to cue that you’re building up to a bigger part of the song
    • Or you can slow and soften your strums to indicate that you’re entering a lower part
    • You can use use similar techniques on a piano or keyboard or any instrument

4. Cue via body language

    • Another type of cue is not anything you can hear but what you can see
    • You can actually cue to the congregation what’s coming next by your body posture or body language
    • Some examples
      • When you enter a free worship time or instrumental interlude, step back from the microphone. This signals you won’t be singing
      • Or if there’s a guitar solo, turn and look at the guiltarists to indicate that’s what’s happening or about to happen
      • Likewise, when an intsrumental part is over, or you’re about to start singing the song, step up to the mic

Bottom Line

Use these 4 ways to cue the congregation when you lead worship.

  1. You can sing a cue for the next part
  2. You can say the first lines of the next part
  3. You can use your instrument or any instrument on the band
  4. You can use body posture or position

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Are you looking for a resource that will help you get started leading worship or improving your skills?

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Featured image by Mark Cruz on Unsplash

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