For musicians, technicians, MD’s and many more, it's all hands on deck to execute the many different festive services churches can put on – to most of which music is vital!

As a community of musicians, we know all too well that this can make for a busy and challenging period.

In the midst of all the traditions, preparations and rehearsals it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of what we’re doing and why. With the Christmas season just around the corner, our local churches and worship pastors are in the same boat! 

We’ve reached out to a few of our local worship pastors and musicians for some of their top tips – we hope their perspectives will get your Carol service preparation off to a strong start!

Gaz hutchinson - Elim coventry

Nexus ICA Alumni 

My top tip for leading carol services is to try and capture something of your ‘normal’ expression of worship within your carol services.

Many people only think about coming to church at Christmas time and yet often carol services can look and feel very different from our regular expressions of worship.

We try and make sure we always medley in some songs or parts of songs that we use all year round to help guests see what church is like during the rest of the year as well.

Christmas is the most naturally evangelistic time of the year and I think it’s so important for us to prepare in a way that encourages people to want to come back again in the future.

Andy Shelton - St marks coventry

I think the 2 potential traps or distractions we can fall into with Carol Services are performance and tradition.

 The best question we can ask ourselves at every point, whatever our role, is how can this lead people to worship Jesus.  

  • Can I take this traditional carol and add a chorus from our songlist to help us push deeper in worship?  eg. Hark the Herald + All Hail King Jesus


  • As a musician, how can I shape the arrangement of a song to elevate it out of tradition and into worship? 


  • In production, how can we use our craft to magnify God and draw people to behold Jesus?
We might have people who come to church at Christmas out of tradition or for a little Christmas entertainment, but our mission can’t be to give them empty tradition or a west-end show, we must give them Jesus. 

Christen clark - nexus ica vocals tutor

My top tip is to consider the words and the meaning when crafting vocal harmonies and musical arrangements.

  • Is this a quiet, holy moment?
  • Is this a joyful, explosion of praise?
  • Or something else entirely?

Whatever the lyrics are trying to convey it will be even more powerful when synchronised with the musical expression too!

Especially if we are communicating the story of Christmas and the hope we now have to people who are less-frequent church goers (which is brilliant!) then we can really immerse them in the lyrical narrative and the musical atmosphere of each song if we bring these together.

How much more hopeful is a song about the birth of our Saviour when contrasted with the uncertainty and long-awaiting sound of carols that describe the longing before his birth?

I think articulating this to all the musicians within your team is really important as it empowers them to come forward with their own ideas on how to create the mood or appropriate musical-atmosphere for each song. 

CHRistmas with Nexus ica