Music is always a controversial subject in churches.
This post is not about whether or not to use ancient hymns or modern “praise and worship” music. You may sing Amazing Grace or Shout to the Lord, but without creativity and passion behind it, either one can fall flat.
An ancient chant can be deeply moving. A modern pop song can lift the spirits of someone in need of a moment of joyful release. Music is a powerful tool in any church’s toolbox. Music goes way beyond the worship liturgy, however. Music can enhance social media posts, videos, classes and small groups.
There are two great resources I recommend for finding great music:
Here you will find a wide variety of music styles (from rap to classical). All of the items here are preview-able, downloadable and….wait for it…..100% FREE!
On the right side of every page is a little “Creative Commons” logo (pictured above) , clicking on this logo which will tells you how these songs may be used. Often it will require you to credit the artist. Most often this means placing a line of text in your video description, on your website, etc. You may learn more about how to properly give an attribution HERE.
Archive.org is a wonderful place for finding freebies of all types, but I want to focus on the music aspect for the time being. A wide array of genres are available from old hymns to hip hop and garage bands.
Many items are Public Domain works, so they may be freely used for any purpose. Some items are labeled as Creative
Commons and require attribution as described above.
The reason I list this site as #2, is that there is SO MUCH content on this site it can be nearly impossible to track anything down.
You will definitely have to use the filter feature and search box (Pictured here)
QUICK TIP: This site is excellent for finding classical, swing, opera and world music. It helps if you have an idea of what type of music you’re looking for before visiting archive.org.
What Can I Do With These Sites?
Use as background audio for promotional videos
Record yourself reading a poem over musical accompaniment to use in a worship service, retreat, class, etc.
Here is a worship video I made using public domain footage and music:
Download some swing or jazz music for a theme night party or dance.
Check out these Benny Goodman songs from archive.org
Use an instrumental track and write some new lyrics for a special launch of a stewardship campaign or worship series.
What could you make with this song?
Search for soft, melodic songs to use as meditative moments. As song plays, have congregants to light candles of hope or peace.
This tip is a refreshing worship element to include in a Memorial Day service or social justice related service. Soft Instrumentals can also be used as a background for scripture/sacred text or poetry readings.
Whether you favor the traditional hymns or crave a bit of ska-punk electronica, it is the creativity behind how we use music that is the most valuable of all. Try some of these ways to spice up your musical moments and let me know if you try these ideas or create your own!