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The Music Architect

Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song

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Guidance for Leaders Seeking a Richer Way to Employ Worship Music

Leading worship expert Constance Cherry offers comprehensive guidance to Christian leaders seeking a deeper, richer way to employ worship music in engaging ways for twenty-first-century worshipers. Instead of worship being driven by the pursuit of fast-changing musical styles, says Cherry, leaders should pursue a musical language that helps to facilitate a worshipful conversation between God and people.

Following the author's successful book The Worship Architect, this work helps Christian leaders think theologically and act pastorally about worship music in their churches. It addresses larger issues beyond the surface struggles of musical styles and provides tools to critically evaluate worship songs. The book is applicable to all Christian traditions and worship styles and is well suited to both the classroom and the local church--serving as a welcome resource for not only musicians but also pastors and other church leaders. Each chapter concludes with suggested practical exercises, recommended reading, and basic vocabulary terms.

1. Becoming a Pastoral Musician
2. Pouring the Footing: God-Focused Song
3. Laying the Foundations: Music's Role in Worship
4. Selecting Songs for the Movements of Worship: Creating Logical Flow
5. Evaluating Worship Music: Creating a Canon of Song
Interlude: Introduction to Shorter and Longer Song Forms
6. Maximizing Shorter Song Forms
7. Maximizing Longer Song Forms
8. Discovering the Congregation's Worship Voice: An Alternative Vision for Musical Style
9. Leading Congregational Song: Practical Guidance from the Trenches
10. Participating in Song as the Body of Christ: Helping Worshipers to Engage through Singing
11. Forming Disciples through Song: Worship as Spiritual Formation
12. Pursuing Spiritual Leadership through Excellence
Appendix A: Assessing Your Canon of Song
Appendix B: Antiphon for Congregational Use


"Worship leaders from a variety of Christian traditions will find in this single source a place to orient themselves in their vocation, plan worship, and develop a faithful and full music ministry. Few can match Cherry's education, experience, and ecumenical perspective. The Music Architect situates the selection of music for worship in the broader context of being a pastoral musician who makes musical decisions with pastoral sensitivity and theological integrity as well as musical skill and insight. Cherry neither takes sides in the 'worship wars' nor calls for simplistic and amorphous 'blended' worship. Her blueprint aims for careful, nuanced, and diverse possibilities that reflect the creativity of the Holy Spirit. If you want to make a sustained and authentic difference in worship through music, start here."

C. Michael Hawn, University Distinguished Professor of Church Music and director of the Sacred Music Program, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"What I love about this book is the clarity of thought it brings to its subject. Written with wisdom and grace, The Music Architect will energize and equip those who seek to lead their congregations with intelligent authenticity week by week in truly Christian worship."

Graham Kendrick, worship leader and writer of numerous songs, including Knowing You; Shine, Jesus, Shine; Servant King; and Amazing Love

"Cherry clearly expresses an architectural vision of the role of music in worship, recalling the foundation of worship in God's vision. At the same time, she also cautions readers regarding ways that music and worship can become idolatrous. New students as well as seasoned pastors and musicians will find this book valuable in the formation of disciples through song."

Melva Wilson Costen, Helmar Neilsen Professor of Music Emerita, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia

"The twenty-first century is the post-worship war era. It is an era where an unsettling divide shaped by the desire for tradition or the pressing need for relevance reveals itself through Christian worship expressions. Oftentimes, this tension manifests itself in the choice of music used for corporate worship. Without a doubt, music making has a significant role in realizing Christian worship, a role comparable to ritual actions and the art of rhetoric in earlier eras. To that end, Constance Cherry in The Music Architect has strategically and helpfully unpacked the purpose, functions, and implications of music making in the context of worship in our day. Shaped by Cherry's overarching concern for leadership formation in enabling congregational singing, this book offers much guidance to those who are preparing to serve or are already serving in the fields of worship and sacred music. It is a timely gift for all of us who are in the forefront of nurturing God's people in song."

Lim Swee Hong (林瑞峰), Deer Park Assistant Professor of Sacred Music and Director, Master of Sacred Music Program, Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto

"Constance Cherry has given the church and its leaders a gift: a book that the church needs. She has successfully repositioned discussions of the church's music to be theologically grounded, liturgically functional, spiritually formative, and congregationally conceived. Along the way she provides practical insights for choosing songs, engaging congregants, establishing flow, and creating vision. Cherry's contribution to congregational song provides the church a foundational source that it has been missing. Her work has resituated the discussion of congregational music by offering music leaders, worship leaders, pastors, congregants, and scholars a new place to restart this much-needed conversation. This book is a must-read for all who are involved in music and worship ministry. It will shape the thoughts and practices of the next generation."

Randall Bradley, Ben H. Williams Professor of Church Music, director of the Church Music Program, and director of the Center for Christian Music Studies, Baylor School of Music

"I can't think of anyone more qualified to teach and write about the connection between worship and music than Constance Cherry. The Music Architect is a must-read for anyone wanting to think and minister on a deeper level. Her thoughts on being a pastoral musician as well as her insights on spiritual formation in worship are truly trailblazing."

Rory Noland, director, Heart of the Artist Ministries

The Author

  1. Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry

    Constance M. Cherry (DMin, Northern Seminary) is professor emeritus of worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, where she taught from 2004-2020, and is a founding faculty member of the Robert E. Webber Institute for...

    Continue reading about Constance M. Cherry


"Cherry carefully and thoroughly introduces multiple resources for congregational song and urges upon worship leaders deliberate and theologically informed consideration of the roles to be played by such song in its selection. . . . Though the book is primarily about music, it is not overly technical in its musical language and should be accessible to most pastors or other ministerial staff involved in musical decisions in the church, as well as to sound-operators or others involved in the regular practice of worship. . . . For those who choose and lead congregational song and seek to recover and reinforce the theological foundation, this book will be a welcome tool."

Charles S. Freeman,


"The author clearly has both academic and vocational training and experiences that have prepared her to write on the topic of worship. . . . Cherry's organization of the book follows a systematic process that allows the reader to easily understand her main point and purpose. The strength lies in the foundational beginnings that Cherry presents. She first allows the reader to understand the roles of the music leader, and she defines worship and builds upon it to show how the leadership can engage the worshiper in song when it is constructed in the manner she presents. . . . This book was well-written and proves to be very helpful to those who lead music for worship in the local church. Cherry's organization flowed from foundation to application well, and she leads the reader to many thought-provoking conclusions."

Matthew Stringfellow,

Artistic Theologian