In recent months, there have been many days when it has been tough to find courage. So, you may be asking yourself: As a choir director, how can I help the congregation I serve overcome fear and anxiety? How can I as a music director empower and lead those in my church and my community? How can I overcome fear and anxiety myself? The answer: With a melody.
The Bible tells us that we overcome with our words and our praise (Acts 16:16-40, Revelation 12:11). Words have so much power – and when you put them to a melody, you create a battle song, a freedom song, a life anthem. I searched the word “fear” in our database and found 295 choral arrangements with that word in the title. Some of these pieces are timeless and others are seasonal. I’ve pulled my top seven anthems – some with fear in the title and some not – that have lyrics that deal with overcoming fear.
Fear Is a Liar by Zach Williams
Words of actuality: While this song hasn’t been arranged in a choral format, it is the perfect solo for a baritone. This contemporary piece has such strong lyrics that call fear what it is – a liar. It goes through everything fear and anxiety will tell us – we aren’t good enough; we will always be alone; we will stay in shame; we won’t ever be loved; or we won’t be strong enough. Then it brings it home with the resolution that fear is a liar, and it asks that God cast it out with His perfect love.
Words of promise: Psalm 23 is probably the most quoted passage of scripture. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NLT). The promises in this passage are strengthening because no matter what it looks like, no matter the uncertainty, I know God is with me and I have nothing to fear. There are so many arrangements of this portion of scripture that it can be hard to choose a favorite!
Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship
Words of confidence: Sometimes I just need to be reminded of who God says that I am. I absolutely love this praise song by Hillsong Worship because it does just that. It reminds me that “I am chosen, not forsaken.” God “is for me, not against me.” “Who the Son sets free is free indeed. I am a child of God.” God has “a place for me.” Fear or anxiety can’t function when I know who I am. There are several awesome choral arrangements of this song, and it’s a great solo for a female singer.
Words of comfort: I know, you’re questioning why I’m selecting this song, but you know how sometimes different parts of a song can resonate at different times in your life? When it comes to fear, the second verse resonates with me: “Was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”
There are two types of fear being talked about in this verse. The first is the fear of God which is reverence for the Lord. The second is the spirit of fear, which is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7), and through the grace of God He has wiped all of my fears away, and it happened the moment I first believed. These words have been memorized and sung thousands of times; the comfort this song brings is resounding.
Surrounded (Fight My Battles) sung by Michael W. Smith
Words of resolution: This is my battle song. This contemporary song is a simple chorus and bridge that repeats. With a very simple melody and powerful lyrics, this song will bring you though a battle with fear and anxiety – or anything, for that matter.
Its whole purpose is to declare that we fight our battles with our praise. My favorite part is the bridge. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” So simple, but what a declaration. Though there’s no choral arrangement yet, this is a wonderful solo piece for a male or female, or a great song for your praise band.
Words of truth: Psalm 91 is, to me, the quintessential passage of scripture when it comes to dealing with fear and anxiety. There are many choral arrangements of this psalm, and it was even used as a basis for the hymn On Eagle’s Wings by Michael Joncas. I love the declarations made of God’s protection and deliverance. The psalm says in part:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies) by Chris Tomlin
Words of praise: “The God of angel armies is always by my side. Whom shall I fear?” Think about that for a moment. The God of all of the armies of heaven is by your side surrounding you and fighting for you. Knowing that, I have the same question posed in the lyrics: “Whom shall I fear?” This is a beautiful song of praise and encouragement.
I will leave you with this scripture: “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33 TPT)
The words we speak have power. The songs we sing have power. I pray you find some encouragement in these anthems to help not only yourself but your choir and the congregation you serve to overcome fear and anxiety. We will get through this together, and what better way to unite in overcoming than with a melody.