Choir songs that carry the message of invitation

International Mass Choir of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Bishop Horace Smith in the foreground.

International Mass Choir of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Bishop Horace Smith in the foreground.

What should the choir sing during altar call?

Altar call (or “invitation”) is a special time during a church service, the time when people are encouraged to come forward either to make a commitment to God or to request prayer.

Here are some of my favorite songs that a choir can sing that invite people to come to the Lord.



Slow songs

Slow songs are traditionally preferred for altar calls. A slow and gentle tune gives a person space to do some soul-searching. Slow songs also make good background music while the speaker brings the message of invitation.

Come Home – by Hezekiah Walker

Come Home

Come Home

by Hezekiah Walker

“He is standing there with outstretched hands

To embrace you as His own

How can you refuse, your Father wants you to come home”

Link: Lyrics to Come Home.

In my opinion, the lead verse on this song is a little heavy-handed. But the chorus is nice, and if the choir is singing for altar call, they would probably go straight to the chorus anyway.

Luke 15:20-24

(20) And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (21) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (22) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: (23) And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Key of Db.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 4/5 (difficulty level would drop to a 3 if you change the key)
  • For musicians: 3/5

Lead singer required? Only if you’re including the verses.

There is also an instrumental track for “Come Home”, available from Fruition Music. You can use the track for accompaniment if you don’t have a musician. Link: Come Home (Instrumental)


Don’t Let This Moment Pass You By – by Kristle Murden

“Don’t let this moment pass you byJesus is waiting with His arms open wideHe’s willing to supply all of the needs in your lifeTake my advice, don’t let this moment pass you by”Andrae Crouch wrote this beautiful invitation song. Kristle Murden’s recording of it is done as a solo with backup singers, but it also sounds lovely with just choir. We always end up doing it slower than the recorded version.

II Corinthians 6:2 — “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Key of Eb.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2/5
  • For musicians: 2/5

Lead singer required? Not really.


He’ll Make a Change – by the LA Mass Choir

He’ll Make a Change

by LA Mass Choir

 

“Give Him your life today. Only He can make a way. Give Him your life today. He’ll make a change.”

A sweet and melodic song, but with an unmistakable call to action. Anybody who doesn’t recognize that they need “a change” in their lives isn’t ready to come to Jesus.

II Corinthians 5:17 — “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Key of Eb.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3/5
  • For musicians: 2/5

Lead singer required? The lead verses are nice, but for years our choir did this one with just the choruses and the vamp, so having a lead singer is optional.

 


 Just to Be Close to You – by Fred Hammond

Just To Be Close To You

Just to Be Close to You

by Fred Hammond

“Just to be close to you, is my desire.”

Link: Lyrics to Just to Be Close to You.

Link: Piano tutorial on how to play Just to Be Close to You.

Simple, heartfelt, and beautiful. It feels like a spontaneous expression from the soul.

Psalm 42:1 — “. . . so panteth my soul after thee, O God.”

Key of Db.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 1/5
  • For musicians: 1/5

Lead singer required? No.


Renew – written by Bishop Charles Watkins

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord. Renew in me a right spirit.”

This is one of my favorite songs. Taken almost verbatim from Psalm 51:10. A beautiful, comforting melody makes this a wonderful selection for altar calls.

The only recording I could find was from the P.A.W. Mass Choir album where it’s done as part of a medley of three Charles Watkins songs. Fortunately, the Amazon preview of the medley is an excerpt that contains Renew.

Key of F.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 1/5
  • For musicians: 1/5

Lead singer required? No.


Standing in the Need – by John P. Kee

Standing in the Need

by John P. Kee

 

A choir arrangement of a very old congregational song that comes from a personal declaration that each of us needs God.

“Not my father, mother, sister, or brother, but it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Link: Lyrics to Standing in the Need

Luke 18:9-14 —

“(9) And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (13) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. (14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Key of Db.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 1/5
  • For musicians: 1/5

Lead singer required? Definitely preferred.


We Fall Down (But We Get Up) – by Donnie McClurkin

We Fall Down (But We Get Up)

by Donnie McClurkin

 

“For a saint is just a sinner who fell down

And got up”

Resource links:

This simple tune carries the message that nobody should consider themselves a lost cause. No matter what mess a person is in, they can come out of it with God’s help.

What I like about this song is the fact that at the same time it shows understanding to people who have fallen, it tells them not to be complacent about remaining in a fallen state. The line that repeats over and over is “get back up again — get back up again.”

Psalm 40:2 — “He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. “

Key of Ab.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 1/5
  • For musicians: 2/5

Lead singer required? No, but it’s a nice addition if you have one.

There is also an instrumental accompaniment track for “We Fall Down” available from Daywind Studio Musicians.

 


Will You Be Ready? – by Commissioned

Will You Be Ready

by Commissioned

 

“Will you be ready

When Jesus comes

Will you be ready when Jesus . . .”

There is a very long lead verse at the beginning of this song, but the part you would want your choir to do is just the repeating chorus at the end. Beautiful, simple, and unforgettable.

Matthew 24:44 — “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

Key of Db.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 1/5
  • For musicians: 1/5

Lead singer required? Not for the part you would want to do for altar call.


Video: Bishop Charles Watkins sings Renew

There’s a rather long introduction by Bishop Arthur Brazier before the song starts.



 Fast songs

Yes, fast songs can be good for altar call as well. A fast song can add a sense of urgency, the feeling that one needs to take action NOW! If the speaker is giving a rousing and forceful invitational message, a fast song might be better background music than a slow one.

One of the ways that I love to use fast invitational songs is as the closing number for a concert. Ending concerts with an uptempo number is always nice, and if the song has a good repeating vamp, you can just keep on singing it as you hand it over to the preacher to make the altar call.


At the Table – by Richard Smallwood

 

This one is based on the old congregational song that says, “Come over here where the table is spread and the feast of the Lord is going on.” There are many places in the scriptures where communing with God is compared to eating.

Link: Lyrics to At the Table

John 6:32-35:

(32) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Key: Starts in Ab, then moves to Bb, then Db.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 4/5
  • For musicians: 4/5

Lead singer required? Yes.


Choose Ye – by The Winans

 
“Choose ye whom you will serve

Will it be God or man”

Link: Lyrics to Choose Ye

The message of this song is that everyone has to make a choice. Not only is coming to God a decision, if you DON’T come to God, that’s a decision, too. There is no such thing as neutrality.

Joshua 24:15 — ” . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Key: Verses are in Db, choruses are in D.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2/5
  • For musicians: 3/5

Lead singer required? The lead verses are nice, but optional.


Look and Live – by the Michael Fletcher Chorale

“Look and live, my brother, live. Look to Jesus now and live.”

A contemporary spin on the old hymn of the same name. Here’s a link for the original hymn: Look and Live.

All of the links I have seen with lyrics for this song did not have the correct lyrics. They had the lyrics for the original hymn, even though they said it was the lyrics for the Michael Fletcher song. But the words are pretty easy to understand on the recording, so you’ll be OK.

Isaiah 45: 22 — “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

This song also goes well with sermons about Ezekiel preaching to the valley of dry bones.

Key of Bb.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2/5
  • For musicians: 2/5

Lead singer required? No.


Say the Word – by Rodnie Bryant

“If you want to be born again say, say the word”

Link: Lyrics to Say the Word

This song is a lot of fun for the choir to sing. The best feature for altar call purposes is the vamp that repeats over and over, “Say the word: I want to be born again; I want to be born again.” It’s a very catchy line that usually inspires the audience to sing along. It’s almost like subliminal advertising for salvation.

These days a lot of people talk about “speaking the word of faith” and often refer to the passage where Jesus said to ask and it will be given to you. But it seems like people mainly focus on asking for earthly prosperity and blessings. What Jesus told us to ask for is the Holy Ghost. That’s the miracle that we need to be looking for when we “say the word.”

Luke 11:9-13

“(9) And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (10) For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (11) If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? (12) Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? (13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Romans 10:8 — “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach”

Key of Bb.

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2/5
  • For musicians: 2/5

Lead singer required? No.

 



POLL on altar call practices

Does your church include altar call as a regular part of services?
 

 



Hymns

There are so many wonderful hymns of invitation. If you use a hymn, you may have to figure out your own arrangement to turn it into a choir song. Here are a few of my favorite altar call hymns:

What are your favorite choir songs for altar call?