Olivet University Jubilee Music Blog

Jubilee College of Music offers a complete learning experience for Christian music available today, ranging from studies in traditional to contemporary styles.

JCM Column: How to Choose a New Worship Song

Always Singing…notes about music & worship by Dr. Smoak

How to Choose a New Worship Song

This is an important question that worship leaders must ask: “How do I choose a new worship song for my church to sing?” Congregations do enjoy singing familiar songs. They know and understand the words. The melody is familiar. But new worship songs are constantly being written. We find these new worship songs by listening to K-LOVE on the radio and by searching websites such as www.praisecharts.com and www.worshiptogether.com. With so many new worship songs to choose from worship leaders must know how to select that one special song that their people will embrace and sing with enthusiasm. There are two major considerations: words and music.

Words: The decision here is very simple. Are the words of the new song theologically correct? Does the text speak of biblical truths? Are the words God-centered, Jesus-centered, and Holy Spirit-centered? Read and study the words. Are the words based upon a particular Bible verse? Do not get caught up in only listening to the melody and chord structure of the music. The words must proclaim the greatness of God, the story of Jesus, or give testimony of God’s work in our lives. Be careful of songs that do not even use the words God, Jesus, or familiar Bible-centered words. For instance, consider the familiar worship song “Draw Me Close.” The text does not mention God or Jesus and could just be considered a secular love song. I like this worship song, but it does need a verbal explanation of what the text means. As worship leaders select new worship songs they must have the Bible in one hand and the music in their other hand.

Music: By music I am simply referring to the melody of the song. Can the average, non-musical person in the church sing the melody? Is the melody so complicated and intricate that the persons in audience will simply give up and not participate in the singing? Worship leaders must remember that they are not performing for the audience; rather, they are leading and encouraging the congregation to lift their voices in praise to God. Choose melodies that the people in your church will be able to sing and enjoy singing as they worship together with other believers. Recently I wrote about that new worship song “Victor’s Crown.” The melody of this song is repeated in several verses and is easy to learn. The bridge is energetic and easily learned. The chorus is musically simple. This is a new worship song that people can learn and enjoy singing toghther. Let us sing!

Remember, always be looking for the next, new worship songs that you want to share with your church.

<Jubilee College of Music, Olivet University>

JCM Column: Victor’s Crown


Victor’s Crown

I am constantly humming and singing the words to the new worship song Victor’s Crown,

particularly the chorus:


You have overcome,

You have overcome,


Jesus, You have overcome the world.

These lyrics immediately remind me of Jesus’ words found in John chapter 16 verse 33:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

Jesus reminds us that true peace is to be found in Him, and Him alone. Jesus reminds us to have courage in the face of the problems and worries that we face as we live in the world, because He has overcome the world. Where do we get the kind of courage? We get this kind of courage by placing our faith in Jesus. It is easy to write about this kind of courage and faith, but it does take work and practice to make it happen. Courage and faith will grow as you read your Bible and pray. Courage and faith will grow as you worship and hang out with other Believers. Courage and faith will grow as you learn to serve others as Jesus served. We have courage and our faith will grow because Jesus has overcome the world. He wears the crown of victory!

Here’s another thought on this subject from 1 John chapter 5 verse 4:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.

Because of our faith we enjoy the victory celebration with Jesus as He wears the victor’s crown.

Sing these words to this new worship song with great joy in your hearts. Hallelujah, Jesus, You have overcome the world!

<Jubilee College of Music, Olivet University>

JCM Column: Our God is not a hermit.


Printed below is the closing paragraph of an article entitled “It Takes Two to Worship” by Trent C. Butler from the Fall 2014 periodical LET’S WORSHIP. Please read the paragraph twice.

Our God is not a hermit. He does not live alone. He lives in heaven and has appeared on earth in the Person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. He continues to be present on earth in the form of His Holy Spirit. He calls on you to recognize the divine Presence who is with you always. He provides many ways for you to respond to His presence. Find a new way each day to recognize and respond to Him. It takes two—you plus God – to worship. God is ever present, waiting for your worship. What are you doing?

It is always dangerous to try and explain God in human terms as these words do, but the author’s attempt does help us understand God in words that we as humans can understand. Two important realities of our God-centered worship are clearly defined in this paragraph.

God is not a hermit. A hermit lives alone. A hermit does not want to associate with, talk to, or be near other people. A hermit desires to live in isolation, far away form any signs of civilization. This is not the God we worship. He is not a hermit. Our God lives in union with His Son Jesus, His Holy Spirit, and a host of angels. Our God even came to earth as a human being. Our God lives inside of us through the Spirit of His Son Jesus. Our God is continually leading, guiding, and nudging us. This is certainly not the description of a hermit.

It takes two – you plus God – to worship. I like this thought. It clearly reminds us of God’s part in worship and our part in worship. God is always inviting us and waiting for us to come and worship Him. But worship only happens as we accept the invitation and come before Him with our worship. It takes two: God and us for worship to happen. Actually this is very simple: God created us to worship Him. The desire to worship is in our very being, soul, and spirit. So why are we waiting? Let’s worship!

<Jubilee College of Music, Olivet University>

JCM Column: God is always inviting His people to come and worship Him.


God is always inviting His people to come and worship Him.

That is a bold statement. You should ask the question: “Dr. Smoak, how do you know this?” I am glad you asked the question. It deserves a prompt answer. We know that God is always inviting His people to come and worship Him because the Bible says so. The invitation is found in Psalm 95, particularly in verses 1, 2, and 6. The key word is “come.”

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation.

Let uscome before Him with thanksgiving
And extol Him with music and song.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

There is the invitation. The Psalmist uses the word “come” three times. The English dictionary defines the word come as a verb or action word meaning “to approach or move toward a particular person or place.” In worship we do move toward a Particular Person! His name is God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. He has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus and His very Spirit, the Holy Spirit lives within us.

Speaking of verbs and action words, notice all of the action words in the verses above: sing, shout, extol, bow down, kneel. Yes, worship involves action. As JCM musicians we are thankful that one of the worship actions is music. Music is mentioned three times in these verses: sing, music, song. We are privileged to His musicians in the world today. We accept His invitation to come and worship Him.

We will sing for joy to the Lord.
We will shout aloud the Rock of our Salvation.
We will come before Him with thanksgiving.
We will extol Him with music and song.
We will bow down in worship.
We will kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Here we come!

<Jubilee College of Music, Olivet University>

Unity Christian Music Festival to be Held Aug 7-10

Unity Christian Music Festival will take place Thursday through Sunday at Heritage Landing in Muskegon, Michigan.

The 3-day event will feature world-renowned Christian musicians such as Crowder, Hillsong LIVE, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, and Matthew West. 

“Many families tell us the Unity is their vacation – they’re not just coming here after work on those days,” said festival Director Kevin Newton. “So we wanted to give people more time inside – for children’s activities, seminar tents and booths, as well as allowing more time for music, he added.

Starting in 2001, the festival has been held annually during the month of August, bringing people together for Christian worship and fellowship.

Introduction to Worship Course Outline

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a course of study covering the theology and practice of Christian worship. The course is designed to help students deepen their understanding of worship and examines how to strengthen contemporary worship in its various cultural settings.

RELATION TO THE COLLEGE STATEMENT OF MISSION: JCM students are preparing to spread the Gospel to the “network generation” through music. The local church and the world-wide Christian community continue to use music as a vital expression of their worship of God. Advanced studies in worship will help students be better witnesses to the “network generation” around the world.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: To gain an understanding of the theology and practice of Christian worship.



Required Textbooks: Learning to Worship with All Your Heart: A Study in the Biblical

Foundations of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, 1996

Enter His Courts with Praise: A Study of the Role of Music and the Arts in Worship, Robert E. Webber, 1997

Rediscovering the Christian Feasts: A Study in the Services of the Christian Year, Robert E. Webber, 1998

Recommended Reading: Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation, Allen P. Ross, 2006

Entering His Courts with Praise! Old Testament Worship for the New Testament Church, Andrew E. Hill, 1993

Understanding, Preparing for, and Practicing Christian Worship,

Second Edition, Franklin M. Segler, Revised by Randall Bradley, 1996

Diverse Worship: African-American, Caribbean & Hispanic Perspectives, Pedrito U. Maynard-Reid, 2000

The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations: Dan Kimball, 2003