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All Request August — Westley Hodges

September 13, 2018

I can't take credit for this great idea, but I have been utilizing it for over ten years. When I started at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Long Beach, MS, it was All Request August. Basically, people in the congregation request songs that they want to hear in August, and no matter the season we would plug the songs into the liturgy. I have to admit, hearing Christmas music in August is weird—but hey—it works!

Since leaving St. Patrick's, I have modified this idea to the form it takes today. St. Patrick's didn't limit the number of requests per person, so some people would submit a list of 20 songs and then seemed bothered if I didn't include all of them. Also, there was no room for requesting a song in memory or honor of someone or to acknowledge a significant event like a birthday or anniversary. Now that we are wrapping up our first All Request August at The Annunciation of Our Lady Episcopal Church, I wanted to share the process with you all; I hope that maybe you will try it next August!

The keys to a successful All Request August are communication and providing the congregation with as much information as possible. At the beginning of June, I published an article in our enews explaining to everyone what All Request August was and how they could contribute. There were two methods by which one could submit their request. There was a card at church that they could fill out and put in the offering plate or hand to me, or they could simply email me the request. 

For email, I asked them to put All Request August in the subject, and I am happy to report that everyone did that!

Next, there is a two-song request limit. Each person in the congregation is allowed to request up to two songs. They can request the songs without indicating a specific reason, or they can note that they would like a song to be in memory or in honor of someone or some event. Finally, once all the music requests were gathered and the music and liturgy team had planned where requested music would be included in the month of August, a graphic was made and put in the enews to tell people what date their request would be used.

The one improvement I will make next year is putting a place on the request card for dates when people know they will not be present at church. Some people wrote "not August 12", but since there was not a place for this, I feel some people didn't know that they could tell us dates on which they knew they would not be in church.

So, how was All Request August? It was—well, still is—amazing! People are really loving it, and it gives us all a chance to see the styles and types of music that the people of our congregation love and adore. Lots of people have told me how much they have enjoyed this, and I think we are all looking forward to next August at Annunciation!

Questions about All Request August and how I do it? Don't be shy: shoot me an email! I would be happy to talk with you and give you advice on implementing this idea in your parish.

Westley Hodges

Director of Music

Annunciation of Our Lady Episcopal Church

[email protected]