Dave Fellingham: Worship music's author, composer, musician and pastor

Sunday 1st July 1990

James Attlee met up with influential worship music teacher DAVE FELLINGHAM.

Continued from page 1

One of my favourites among Dave's canon is "Shout For Joy And Sing Your Praises To The King".

"The chorus of that one is a systematic theology. The verse part came very quickly, then for the second part I just went through all that God is and what He does for us, in what seemed to me to be the right order. He's our Creator first, then He's our deliverer, when we were in our sins he delivered us out of them and then brought us to redemption - so you've got the whole progression...which will probably tell you something about my Calvinist theology!"

I asked Dave how he began writing worship songs.

"I was a professional musician before I went into full-time Christian work, particularly in composition. I used to do a lot of writing, all kinds of stuff really - and the first worship song I wrote that had any measure of success came again out of a desire to give people in the church something to sing that had some content. I suppose I was a bit fed up with worship songs that didn't really say anything - I mean there's only a certain amount times you can sing 'Glory, Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Hosanna!" In the end, what are you saying? I believe the content of what you 're singing is very important. So the first one I wrote was about the kingship of God ruling in the nations, and I took the words straight out of the Bible, which is what I've tended to do, to give every song I write content."

How important has a vision for worship been in Dave's work in the local church, and as part of the ministry of New Frontiers (the large grouping of churches headed by Terry Virgo, of which Dave is part of the leadership team)?

"Very important. It's been one of our highest values. As a songwriter, I try to write prophetically. For instance, we've got a big New Frontiers conference coming up at the end of September, beginning of October, and Terry Virgo's already been saying what he feels the theme of this conference will be. We're putting together a conference songbook and album, and I'm writing a song, in fact I'm working on it at the moment, which will be an expression of what the conference is - it's on preparing the way for the return of the Lord, and being a bride prepared and ready - so I'm actually writing a song about being prepared for the coming of the Lord."

How central should worship be to the life of a Christian?

"I would say if it's not central, there's something seriously wrong. In the end, that's what God made us for, and I think it's ever so important that we don't see worship as singing worship songs. Worship's got more to do with life, your obedience to God, and living for Him and living to love Him and please Him, and then letting your songs and your hand raising and all the other things you do come out of the integrity of a clean heart and a good relationship with God - otherwise it's just superficial.

"Wherever you are, you've got to learn to be a worshipper, and not be led. One of the things I teach very strongly on is don't come to a worship time expecting the worship to lift you - come expecting to lift the worship. It's ever so important that worship has content, and I think we need to be more creative in the way that we worship. One of the biggest dangers I see at the moment is a new kind of charismatic liturgy, which is becoming as formal as the old. We sing a couple of songs, we sing in tongues a bit, we have a sung prophecy, we sing a couple more songs, then we might have another time of singing in tongues, and then somebody preaches. I sometimes hear people say 'I'm bored with worship!' How can you be bored with loving God?" Boredom doesn't seem to be one of Dave' s problems - I never did get around to asking how on earth he manages to combine all his activities with local church leadership and family life. The night before I spoke to him, he had taken his two sons (aspiring musicians both) to see It Bites play in Guild-ford.

"I'd much rather go with them and be part of it," he laughed, "they've got this way-out Dad!"

I was profoundly encouraged to find this way-out Dad, with his understanding of and sympathy for artists, his theological insight, and his passionate belief in God-given creativity, at the centre of one of the largest new church movements in Britain. It is precisely an organisation like New Frontiers, with its tremendous momentum, and with the powerful and charismatic personalities involved, that could be in danger of mistaking uniformity for unity, and squeezing out the creative and the unpredictable. With Dave there is no such danger. Roll on the renaissance! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About James Attlee
James Attlee is the assistant editor of Cross Rhythms and lives in the midlands.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Malcolm in Hove @ 16:58 on Jan 1 2020

Dave Fellingham one of the best song writer from the 80 and a great leader at the downs bible fortnight I went to all but the last one

Posted by John Hatcliffe in Guisborough Cleveland TS14 7BW @ 14:43 on Mar 13 2016

Hi David, just come across this webpage and thought I would contact you after all the years since Guildford Citadel. How are you these days, we are retired as you may know but still keep active. I would love to make contact with you sometime. God Bless you.
John. johnhatcliffe@hotmail.co.uk

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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