All entries for March 2008
March 21, 2008
I forgot to say in the last post - please be on the look out for problems/issues/ideas you have after using the latest version of PSALM. Contact me with your comments, they will be much appreciated :-)
And in the mini-tradition of this blog, below is another actual Psalm to go along with the latest release. In a rather tenuous link, this is Psalm 33 (from the New Century Version of the Bible - only verses 1-9 shown here) to go with PSALM version 3...!
Sing to the Lord, you who do what is right;
honest people should praise him.
Praise the Lord on the harp;
make music for him on a ten-stringed lyre.
Sing a new song to him;
play well and joyfully.
God's word is true,
and everything he does is right.
He loves what is right and fair;
the Lord's love fills the earth.
The sky was made at the Lord's command.
By the breath from his mouth, he made all the stars.
He gathered the water of the sea into a heap.
He made the great ocean stay in its place.
All the earth should worship the Lord;
the whole world should fear him.
He spoke, and it happened.
He commanded, and it appeared.
By the way, the 'ten-stringed lyre' was a kind of ancestor of the modern guitar. Hopefully PSALM will aid people to "make music for him on a ten-stringed lyre. Sing a new song to him; play well and joyfully" - He deserves it and far more! :-)
March 20, 2008
The 'final' version of PSALM is now complete and available for download. This is the version that was shown in my project presentation, and may still change slightly when further testing is done to fix bugs. This is it for features though. (At least for this project... My current church (Jubilee Coventry) and a church affiliated to my parent's church (Oxford Community Church) have both expressed interest in using either my program, or in using something that my program may evolve into the solution for.)
The main new feature in this 'proper' third & final increment is the song recommender. Build your setlist (the bottom-left list), and click 'recommend' to open up a new dialog. Here, you can choose whether the next song should share chords (making it easy to flow between songs), be of a certain theme(s), or even have been played before in setlist history (see the history.xml file included in the download - this is my record of most of the 'sets' I have personally played in over the last 12 months). You can alter how important each of these factors should be in compiling the recommendations, as well as how strict the recommender should be (ie. returning more/less results).
Hopefully, that explains how to use it. Before you jump into using it though, PLEASE note that this is just a tool, nothing more. If you are thinking of using my program - or any other computer tool - to run/guide/build your set, or even church service, think again. It is imperative that the 'Worship Leader' is in fact God. And he uses people to conduct these services. He did not choose computers to do it. There is far more to worshipping God than choosing a bunch of songs that 'fit criteria' like the way my program might see it. Read 'I did it His way' by Tim Hughes - this explains more of what I mean. The Holy Spirit should be conducting our worship of God, not any computer program, let alone mine!!!
At the heart of what I have built, is a desire to worship God 'better', and to help others in worshipping Him 'better'. It can help in finding songs, or displaying them as a prompt. But sometimes we must put the computers, the songbooks, and even the guitars away. We must allow God to speak, especially since he may speak in "a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:12 (NIV Bible)).
Anyway, thank you for bearing with me through that notice.
If you want to download PSALM, here it is: PSALM 3 (239kb).
March 10, 2008
Just as I have now finished tidying up my project files on my computer, here is one last piece of interest...
This is a quote from Dave Holden (leader of New Community Church, Sidcup (S.E. London) and involved in leading the newfrontiers 'stream' of churches) when he spoke in a seminar at a national newfrontiers leaders conference in Brighton last summer - you can download the entire seminar recording here (this seminar is called 'The Holy Spirit and your church: Part 2'). The whole talk is pretty long, this quote comes from about 25 minutes into it.
We need to teach people to expect to encounter God... You can have ten old ladies... in a tin hut, without the latest modern music, without any PA, who can't even see the words on the screen at the front; and if they are glorifying Jesus, and they are encountering God, then its a far more meaningful moment than some great big super-duper meeting where we've got all the technology and we're singing all the songs but actually were not encountering the living God. So all our hours given over to technology has a massive big question mark over it actually. Because I don't despise it, but I just dont think its as important as some people think it is... What's really important is these few people, whoever they may be, are genuinely encountering God.
...Some of us have got to make just basic decisions about what we think is important & what isnt... It is not about having the meeting run well... I want it done as best we can, but I do want to make this the priority of our hearts.
As this is from a context of training church leaders (although in the broadest sense), this demonstrates the fact that IT use in some churches has now reached a point where a refocus is needed back to the true priority of church: God.
From the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (who by the way commissioned Schultze's book).
Technology in Worship contains quotes from church leaders about how they 'do' technology in worship and there is also links to a survey on visual media in Christian worship - here's a summary of the survey.
Article "How to: Use technology to aid you as a worship leader", on pages 12-13 in inside worship magazine (2007 Vineyard Music USA). Gives some wise tips on using & integrating technology into worship. Mentions a guy called David Ruis, who leads worship using all kinds of weird & wonderful technologies - old and new. He was leading some sessions at a national Christian festival (soul survivor) that I went to last summer with some of the guys from the Warwick Christian Union. I have to admit that I actually found it very difficult to engage with his style of worship. It is a perfect example of where technology can alienate members of the congregation (however apparently open-minded or open to technology they may be), while others respond better to it. At the end of the day, worship is about engaging to honour God (eg. singing his praises, speaking biblical truths) and encountering God (developing in relationship with him, hearing his voice/guidance) and so much more. (This is my own pretty feeble definition)
But before I go off on too much of a tangent, I shall stop here as this is a Computer Science degree project blog, not somewhere to discuss theology... as much as I might like it to be ;-) For more along those lines, pop over to one of my favourite websites, worship central... or even pop into your local church... you might be surprised!
First, thanks to those who came to my project presentation.
Here you can find some resources that I used in the presentation -
Some of the questions asked during the presentation were about whether my PSALM program could be used during a service. I would like to stress here that although it could be, only the main screen is designed for this - so the editors + song recommender are intended for use in preparing for a service. They could be adapted for use though, but because usually the lead worshipper (person leading the band) has their hands full with an instrument, it would be difficult to use any program. In my 'further work' section of the presentation I didnt have time to talk about input methods. It would be great to use a system similar to worshipsession, which uses a foot pedal to control just two functions - for example, 'display next song' & 'display previous song'.
The problem with using PSALM mid-service only shares the same inherent problems with songbooks though, in that fiddling around trying to find the next song to play can be frustrating. I believe that PSALM is at least as good, if not better than songbooks though in that searching is much quicker and the thematic search especially makes this job easier.
As to the issue of depending on (any) computer programs to aid running a church service/worship 'set', it is important to see PSALM as a songbook replacement and not more than it actually is. Lead worshippers should not, and generally don't, rely on their songbooks to decide the order of service, so musn't then do it with PSALM either! (Which may explain why I haven't designed PSALM's song recommender to be easy to use mid-service).
March 06, 2008
The presentation of my project is set for this coming Monday, and I am pleased to say that the final remaining increment of the PSALM program is complete! It won't be released online just yet (and probably not for another week or two) as this is the final week of term & very busy/important for me!
If you would like to see the presentation, you are welcome (as long as there aren't too many people reading this!!). It will be in the Computer Science department, room CS1.05 at 9:40am on Monday 10th March. Steve Russ, my supervisor, will be chairing the presentation.
The presentation will include a demonstration of PSALM, presenting (some of) the findings from my research into IT in the church, and conclusions/critial analysis. I haven't actually finished preparing it yet so this is just what I expect to do. There will be chance for questions to be asked, hopefully I can maybe even answer them too. I will post on this blog the slides from the presentation and maybe even some bits from the Q&As, again probably in a couple of weeks.
Thank you for your interest in this project, maybe I shall see you very soon!