What is the purpose of a song mash-up in a worship setting? In this article, we'll seek to explore some of the reasons why we might use a song mash-up, when to be careful with them, and some practical examples for them.

Oftentimes, you’re in a situation leading worship that calls for just a little more. You know what we mean: you’ve led a successful time of worship with open time constraints but now that your set list has been played through, you’re not sure of where to go next. You sense that a song needs to flow into something else but you’re unsure of how to do this or where to go. Or… maybe you have a desire to bring back some timeless songs like a hymn but spin it in a fresh way that will really work well in your set but are not sure exactly how to do this… Either way, here are a few principles from our experience with song mash-ups that could help you take the next step in executing what you’re looking for in your worship set!

What Is A “Mash-up” And Why Do We Use Them?

Essentially, a mash-up is simply the combining of two or more songs together in a continuous flow that has a synergistic effect and expands how people think about a certain topic or relate to songs, oftentimes using songs from the past.

Types Of Mash-ups

Option1 : Horizontal ➞ Vertical

You switch the focus of leading people in worshiping God through song (horizontal) to singing directly to God (vertical).

Option 2: Vertical ➞ Horizontal

You switch the focus of singing directly to God to inviting others to worship God (a call to worship).

Option 3: Core Song ➞ Core Song

You mash-up one core song with another in your general song pool.

Option 4: Core Song ➞ Hymn or Classic Chorus

You mash-up a core song in your general song pool with a hymn or song with a classic chorus that many people know.

Option 5: Core Song ➞ Shortened Core Song Version

You mash-up a core song with a shortened version of another core song.

Option 6: Core Song ➞ Regular Song From Your Song Pool

You mash-up a core song in your quarterly rotation with a regular song from your general song pool.

When To Use A Mash-up

  • When song themes align
  • When songs have a synergistic effect
  • When songs give a new perspective on the same topic

 

When To Be Careful With Mash-ups

  • When tempos are 10 BPM or more apart
  • When songs change time signatures
  • When song themes are seemingly unrelated

 

Rule of Thumb When Using Mash-ups

  • Check planning center song report or your song record database up to six months past to see which songs have been played the most.
  • Consider using this rule of thumb for modern songs: a song out of the current song rotation needs to have been led at least one time for every one month passed to be eligible for a mash-up. 
    • For example: The song “All to Him” was done only once in the past six months outside of the current rotation so it would not be eligible to mash-up with the current core list of songs being played. If it had been led only three times in the past four months, it would also not be eligible. If it had been done once in the past month, that would be ok. If it had been done five times in the last five months or six times in six months, it would also be ok. Furthermore, if it had been led six times in the past three months, etc., it would also be eligible. 
    • You can essentially use a hymn mash-up whenever you want since they are known by a wide audience.

Hymn / Classic Song Mash-ups

  • Amazing Grace
  • Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
  • In Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
  • Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • I Love You Lord
  • Jesus Paid It All
  • When I Survey The Wondrous Cross
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • Give Me Jesus
  • It Is Well
  • Holy Holy Holy
  • How Great Thou Art
  • What Can Wash Away My Sins

Additional Considerations

It’s helpful if you know how to use the Nashville Number System when using mashups (or any songs for that matter) because you can think in terms of similar scale degrees and apply that to the songs (see our article Basic Music Terms for more on this topic) . Instead of getting caught up in exact chords or notes of the songs or mash-ups, you can focus more on structure and flow.

Additionally, it’s very helpful if you have a go-to set of songs in your “back pocket,” so to speak, that you can pull from when needed in a moment of spontaneous worship or when you simply weren’t planning on doing another song but need more material to draw from. We recommend starting with three songs you can play from memory (and that your band also knows) in a pinch. From there, you can grow and expand your back pocket set list to include a wide range of topics to better suit more situations.

When you have this list of songs you can pull from whenever you need, you’ll find that mashups will flow naturally, especially moving from chorus to chorus or a chorus of one song to a bridge of another song, etc.

Worship Mashup Examples

In these chord chart PDF examples, you’ll notice several elements we’ve been talking about. As you examine the charts, think about the vertical elements of leading worship and the horizontal elements and how the topics align. Also notice how many different songs are being used in these examples.

Thank You Jesus / My Heart Is Your chart PDF example 1

Thank You Jesus / My Heart Is Yours chart PDF example 2

We begin by speaking about God’s grace overflowing onto us, and us thanking Him (a vertical element of leading worship). In example 1 we move into the chorus of “My Heart Is Yours” directly from “Thank You Jesus” while in example 2, we then move into the verse and chorus of the song “My heart is Yours,” which is our response to His grace and love (“My heart is your”, “take it all,” “my life in your hands,” etc.).  These are both examples of vertical responses in worship. Then the song comes full circle in both arrangements by declaring that we surrender everything to God in thanks for what He’s done for us. This is a corporate declaration of response to who God is and what He has done through the person of Jesus and is a horizontal element of leading worship. You’ll also notice that the song “My Heart Is Yours” automatically contains its own mashup built into the arrangement which lends itself nicely to the overall mashup and makes a bit less work thinking through how to do the mashup on your own. Example 1 moves quickly from chorus to chorus which has a bit “punchier” effect while Example 2 draws out the thoughts and the journey of the song for more contemplation.


Article for this topic by Ashton Abbott.

Key Points:

  • A mash-up is the combining of two or more songs that has a synergistic effect and expands how people think about a certain topic or relate to songs, oftentimes from the past.
  • Types of mashups include: Horizontal ➞ Vertical; Vertical ➞ Horizontal;  Core Song ➞ Core Song; Core Song ➞ Hymn or Classic Chorus; Core Song ➞ Shortened Core Song Version; Core Song ➞ Regular Song From Your Song Pool. 
  • You can consider mashing up a song when song themes align, songs have a synergistic effect, and when songs give a new perspective on the same topic.
  • Be careful with mashups when tempos are 10 BPM or more apart, songs change time signatures, song themes are seemingly unrelated.
  • Use the “one for one” rule of thumb when deciding whether a modern song is eligible to mashup with another modern song.
  • Some great hymns and classic song to choose from are: Amazing Grace, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, In Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I Love You Lord, Jesus Paid It All, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, Be Thou My Vision, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Give Me Jesus, It Is Well,Holy Holy Holy, and How Great Thou Art.
  • It is helpful to know the Nashville Number System and have a “back pocket set” when using song mashups.

Quote This:

A mash-up is simply the combining of two or more songs together in a continuous flow that has a synergistic effect and expands how people think about a certain topic or relate to songs, oftentimes using songs from the past.

See Also: Worship Teams

Talk About It
  1. Invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. Have you used song mashups in a set before? If so, how did they work?
  3. If they worked well, what contributed to that? If they didn’t work well, what contributed to that?
  4. Name some of your favorite hymns or classic worship songs. Do you think they would be good candidates for mashing up? Why or why not?
  5. Are there any other times you would include when to be careful when not to use a mashup?
  6. Have you ever been leading a time of worship where you ran out of songs? How might having a “back pocket” set be helpful? Which songs do you currently have in that set?
  7. Write an action step for this conversation. 

This is part of the Worship Training series.

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