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Hear the pennies dropping



 At my first corps as an officer, we had a young man who looked after our sound system during Sunday meetings and corps events, and he did a good job of it. Also, I would often get him to play a CD track while the offering was being taken.

 

One Sunday, he asked me, at the last minute, what to play for the offering, and I said he could play whatever he wanted, knowing that he was familiar with the drill and what was appropriate. So, I introduced the offering, and the music struck up: “The minute you walked in the joint/ I could see you were a man of distinction/ A real big spender …’

 

Well, I rolled my eyes, the congregation laughed, and the offering was collected to the legendary tones of Shirley Bassey belting out one of her biggest songs. He said later, in his defence, “It was about spending and money and stuff; I thought it was okay.”

 

This prompts me to wonder what other songs might be helpful while the offering is being collected. Every corps receives an offering each Sunday morning, so why not get creative with the music that accompanies it?

 

A starting point is ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’. First released by Motown’s Barrett Strong in 1959, the song was also covered by The Beatles in 1963, and it hit number one on the charts in 1979 when British new-wave band The Flying Lizards did a take of it.

 

‘The best things in life are free/ But you can give them to the birds and bees/ I want money (that’s what I want)/ That’s what I want (that’s what I want)’.

 

On the other hand, it’s probably counter to the attitude you want to stimulate in your congregation at offering time; the point is they shouldn’t want money, they should want to give it to the church.

 

How about ‘Come and Get It’ by Badfinger? Written and produced by Paul McCartney in 1969, this was the English group’s first top-10 hit and included the memorable line, ‘If you want it, here it is, come and get it/ But you better hurry cos it’s going fast.’

 

Seems a little possessive, doesn’t it? ‘God, I’ve got your money for the offering; I’m not going to just put it in freely, so if you want it, you need to come and get it.’ Which just provokes the scary response: what if he did?

 

For ABBA fans, it’s hard to go past one of their 1976 hits, ‘Money, Money, Money’.

 

‘Money, money, money/ Must be funny/ In the rich man's world/ Money, money, money/ Always sunny/ In the rich man's world./ Ahaa, all the things I could do/ If I had a little money/ It’s a rich man’s world’.

 

However, the offering isn’t about all the things you could do with your money; it’s about what God and your church can do with it!

 

Finally, perhaps we should use a song that references God, like, say, ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ from the 1964 Broadway hit play ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.

 

Lead character Tevye, a working-class milkman, ponders what life would be like if he were wealthy. He sings, ‘If I were a rich man’, and then the immortal, deep and meaningful lyric, ‘Ya ba dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum’.

 

The song concludes, ‘Lord, who made the lion and the lamb?/ You decreed I should be what I am/ Would it spoil some vast eternal plan/ If I were a wealthy man?’

 

It may not help the offering too much, but it might get the congregation up and dancing with their hands in the air. (YouTube it, young people.)

 

I know these suggestions might upset some people. After all, offering is a part of our worship. So perhaps just stick with a good Salvation Army song that will create the right mood for giving, something like: ‘Lord, I make a full surrender, All I have I yield to thee.’

 

 

– Major Mal Davies and his wife Major Tracey are the Corps Officers at Adelaide City Salvos

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