Graham Kendrick: An Out Of The Ordinary, Psalm-Surfing Worshipper

Thursday 4th January 2007

GRAHAM KENDRICK was quizzed by Tony Cummings about his new album, surfing the Psalms and writing with other songwriters.

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A Rough Guide to PsalmSurfing - Graham Kendrick
[these are my bullet points when I teach it]

Why so special?

  • Riding on 100% Word of God

  • Responding to the inspiration of the moment

  • Rest from the song list

  • Respite from predictable patterns

  • Risk worth taking!

What is it good for?

  • Personal devotion

  • Small group worship

  • Music Team/Choir rehearsals

  • Prayer meetings

  • Going places songs rarely visit

  • Dedicated worship times

  • Arts + voices in Scripture-driven worship
What does it require?
  • Faith

  • Courage

  • Vulnerability

  • Humility and reverence of God

  • A few skills including:
    • listening & repetition

    • melody making

    • evaluation decision communication

    • surviving public embarrassment!
Getting started
  • Practice in private/in your core music team
    (the best preparation for worship is worship)

  • Wait on God for direction
  • Manage peoples' expectations
    • A briefing flyer on arrival can allay confusion

    • simple demonstrative explanation
  • Assess the situation pitch an appropriate level

  • Choose a key / set the tempo/ "imagine" the first line

  • Just do it!

  • Lining out (call and response)

  • Reading until the words "sing"

  • Identifying a refrain

  • Clear verbal cues i.e. "listen" "repeat" "sing after me"

  • Musical "selahs" and silences

  • Making space for instrumental improvisation "moments", the poetic, artistic, expressive movement, etc

  • Inviting appropriate input from the larger group

  • Reinforcing an emerging theme

  • Reviewing, evaluating, remembering, learning from mistakes

Musical leadership options:
Solo voice / voice and percussion / self-accompanied voice / I sing - you play / follow my fingers / follow a standard chord cycle

Scripture versions:
The most lyrical versions work the best (I prefer the Contemporary English Version). Scripture on screen is helpful, but a Bible-in-Hand approach enables all gathered to browse, explore and cross-reference.


  • Boring repetition, dead ends and "wipe-outs"

  • U.R.I. (Unreal Religious Intensity)

  • Jam-fests for the "cut loose" musician

  • Scripture taken out of context

  • The "dark side" of the Psalms - knowing the Psalms and reading ahead is recommended!

  • Shark alert!
    • pride / presumption

    • microphone muggers

  • © Graham Kendrick 2005

    Tony: Do you do as many live appearances as you used to do?

    Graham: It varies from year to year, much of my effort in recent years has been participating in conferences and training abroad, and I regard it as a privilege to be asked to teach lead and influence churches and movements in the area of praise and worship, often where things are at a much more formative stage than they are in the UK, or where there are pressures or privations we don't experience so much here. One of the most memorable was taking part in a three day worship and prayer Festival in Mongolia.

    Tony: Any plans for the future?

    Graham: I am about to begin a series of trips to USA, New Zealand, France, Egypt and South Africa. I have also begun writing a new Christmas production to resource churches in their worship and outreach in a similar way as 'Rumours Of Angels' and 'The Gift' did some years ago, and I am planning a UK tour in the autumn of 2007. 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 Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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Reader Comments

Posted by filemon in indonesia @ 08:56 on Aug 6 2008

Thank you 4 the dialogue. I'm a "Kendrick's songs lover."

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