“Whoa Oh!” What and Why in Worship


It’s no doubt a current trend in modern worship to include a “Whoa oh” or “la la” section in a song. I have heard all types of arguments and opinions on the matter from people with deep rooted feelings on the subject. I can’t say I’ve got deep-rooted feelings about it but I wanted to weigh in with some thoughts that you can take or leave.

I am in favor of having well-placed congregational outcries. My newest album “The Corridor” starts off with a huge gang vocal screaming “Oh oh oh OOOH oH” and I love the energy that it begins the song with, so I definitely find myself on the “for it” camp.

Here’s some reasons that I think it should/could be used:

1. It Unifies: Let’s face it, some songs that we write can be very wordy and in our best efforts to tell the gospel story in song we don’t give that moment for an easy and unifying participation. I know a lot of times, for me, I can almost be reading a new song and wanting that chance to go “YES!” but I haven’t learned the song yet, but wait here comes “oh oh”, now I’m in! I had my chance to on a simple and easy level say “Amen!”

2. An Open Door: I mentioned “List of Loss” the first song The Corridor, it begins with that big “Oh Oh”. The energy that comes from that is something that immediately grabs you when you hear it. That may sound so unspiritual but that song has what I think is the richest lyrical content on the album. Think of it in this way, what if you had a collection of priceless masterpieces, and you wanted to show them to the whole world, you wouldn’t house them in a building that looked normal. I think about the Louvre in Paris. It is a beautiful building that draws you in. “Oh Oh’s” are that huge attractive front door that brings brings people in to get the good stuff.

3. BATTLE CRY: There’s something huge and powerful about a lot of voices all yelling the same thing at once. We have all heard the story of Joshua at Jericho when they gave a loud yell and the walls came down. We think about pretty much every movie we’ve ever seen when soldiers are rushing the battlefield. These situations aren’t the moment for poetic eloquence, they are moments of overwhelming emotion that don’t need words. Not every one of these moments in worship songs is one of those moments, but some of them can be. In that moment we hear no words but we are aware of the large number and the power of that number being all in one voice. We get a sense of the largeness of the body of Christ and unity of that body. It stirs up the true direction that we are heading into the same battle on different fronts and that we are not alone. 

So there’s at least a few thoughts on “Whoa Oh’s” in our worship. 


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