The Crescendoing Mantra Bridge

Just an observation. If you are a lead worshiper/worship leader/music leader/pastor of worship arts/creativity prophetess (or whatever is the appropriate title), have you noticed how many worship songs have a repetitive bridge? Here are a few famous examples:

I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that cross (repeat)

Let Your glory shine around, let Your glory shine around, King of glory here be found, King of glory (repeat)

You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord Blessed Be Your Name (repeat)

It's rising up all around, it's the anthem of the Lord's renown (repeat)

We lift our holy hands up, we want to touch You, we lift our voices higher and higher and higher to You (repeat)

It seems to be a trend for sure. Most hymns don't even have bridges. In fact, you're lucky to even get a chorus! I know sometimes people complain about repetitive lyrics. Usually these are the same people who complain that newer worship songs are too hard to sing... go figure. I happen to like these sorts of bridges.

My preference is to get some sort of crescendo or decrescendo going... usually I enter the bridge from the chorus and I take one of two approaches:

1. Come out of the chorus strong into the bridge and then decrescendo over 2-8 repeats, leading into a "vocals only" chorus, and a then a quick half or single measure build back into a final full blown chorus to end.

2. Cut the chorus off hard and start the bridge out pp, then crescendo the bridge back up over 2-8 repeats, climaxing in a full blown chorus. With this approach I like to hold back slightly on the previous choruses, so that the final chorus has that extra something.

Alternatively, I might make the bridge travel pp to ff back to pp, with slight variations in the lyrics. Or I might do the opposite, traveling from ff to pp and back to ff. Or any number of variations on this theme.

One bridge I like is from the song "Glory in the Highest" by Chris Tomlin. It is a good example of something I really like, which is to take a bridge and repeat it over the top of the chorus, giving the congregation a couple choices of what to sing. For example, in "Glory in the Highest", there is an alternate chorus/bridge that goes:

All the earth will sing Your praise, the moon and stars, the sun and rain
And every nation will proclaim, that You are God and You will reign

Glory glory, hallelujah, glory, glory to You Lord, glory, glory, hallelujah, hallelujah

This is sung slightly above the chorus which simply repeats:

Glory in the highest, glory in the highest, glory in the highest, to You Lord

All of this is done at the end of the song.

After the crescendo, which ends with "hallelujah", I have the band drop off dramatically to p, and I and my bgv will sing a variety of repeating mantra things. I usually will continue repeating "hallelujah" (the last word in the previous line) while she continues to sing "glory in the highest". They sort of play off each other and echo back and forth. Then we may come together to sing and repeat " You Lord" at the end... all with the band playing softly, to emphasize the words.

What this does is it allows those worshiping to choose from a couple of different options as to what to sing. They can follow me or the bgv. Ultimately what this reinforces is that they are free to sing whatever they want whenever they want. They don't have to follow what I am singing all the time. That is really the point. And it creates very special moments where the band drops out and the whole crowd is singing together in parts, some doing one part, some doing another, but in a very natural way.

I totally DO NOT like what some leaders will do to orchestrate a moment like that by saying "all the women sing X, and all the men sing Y" (yes, I realize the chromosomal pun. It was semi-intended). That sort of control feels very unnatural and manipulative to me. That's just me I guess.

OK, that's my observations on the Crescendoing (Decrescendoing) Mantra Bridge. Make the most of it.

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