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15 October 2018 | Belgrade, Serbia [Victor Hulbert]

You know how it is.  Lots of planning goes into an event:  Convention centres are booked, speakers assigned, workshop and witness programmes arranged, meals and accommodation negotiated – then at the last minute someone suggests, “perhaps we should have a theme song!”

GYLC2018 Theme Song finalePeople rapidly scan through their hymnbook or worship collections, searching for something that might possibly fit.  Surely there must be a better way. 

Over the past several years a small but dynamic group of musicians have carefully developed theme songs for three youth congresses and a major pastors’ convention.  Talk to any participant at the 2017 Pan-European Youth Congress in Valencia, Spain and they will remind you of Let’s Take This Road. More seasoned youth congress participants might refer to the Power of One from Novi Sad in 2013. Or ask the participants of the World Youth Leaders Congress in Kassel, Germany in August 2018 who went home singing Pass it On.  More recently, pastors and leaders who attended the late August European Pastors’ Council [EPC] in Belgrade, Serbia, equally found themselves with a new song firmly embedded in their minds, Your Kingdom Come.

So how do you write a successful theme song? Agnieszka Kluska is a journalist from Poland who reported both from Valencia and Belgrade.  Inspired by the music, she sat down with Peter Manners-Smith and husband and wife team, Tihomir and Kärt Lazić, to find out the answers.

Together they reflect on the need of focusing on the message and theme, allowing the theology to come through in understandable language, and for a suitable melody that fits the spirit of the occasion.  That difference is seen in all four songs as they move from the ethnic vibe of a powerful anthem for the Serbian context to an upbeat ballad style for ‘The Journey’, a Congress that attracted 4,000 youth last summer, from the more Disney musical feel of the Youth Leaders congress, to a slight Celtic lilt for the hymn based format at the Pastors’ Council.

EPC2018 Theme Song finaleAlso important is the ability to develop a score that can be played on one guitar or piano in a small church, or with full orchestration at bigger events.  “A mass choir and large orchestra is inspiring at the Youth Congress,” Tihomir Lazić explained, “but when an individual goes home to their forty-member congregation next week, I still want them to be able to use the song that has been buzzing in their brain.”

Peter, Tihomir and Kärt are all part of the Newbold community in Binfield, England and are active in leading worship in their home church.  For a project like this they work together, using their varied skills to focus on music, lyrics and style.  They carefully study the theme of the event and outlines for what the speakers are trying to achieve.  Those who have attended one or more of these events will testify to the power of the music and how it enhanced the atmosphere of the event.  These were not just songs, but well thought through acts of worship.

Watch the extended interview here

Music Scores:

Lets take this road 2017 AYC Theme Song score thumb Pass it On 2018 GYLC Theme Song score thumbYour Kingdom Come 2018 EPC Theme Song score thumb

See also:

The Journey: Completed or just begun – Pan-European Youth Congress 2017
Take a risk with youth: It’s OK if they’re better than you – Global Youth Leaders Congress 2018
Reports, videos and resources from the European Pastors’ Council


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Sajitha Forde-Ralph, associate editor
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