Friday, September 2, 2011

Worship Song Writing Nuggets

Song writing is one element that is a huge part of my vision for the church where I serve as worship pastor.  To me, the more original songs of worship that flow from the local vision, the more personal, powerful and impacting our worship services will be.  Bellow are a few nuggets I've gathered over the years about taking the craft of song writing for worship seriously.

1. Live a life of worship and allow songs to be birthed from that place.  Allow them to rise above the static of ordinary life in a way that flows naturally, unforced, uncontrived.

2. Live in a Mary place (at the feet of Jesus) but do the Martha stuff (hard work and preparation required to maintain excellence in your art form.)

3. Sing in the secret, own the song totally before launching it out into the world.  Ensure your life is modeling the focus of the song, that it is congruent with who you really are.

4. Center your song in scripture firmly.  Doctrine is vital to any song worth it's salt.  When people sing your songs, they are speaking out truth into the atmosphere.  If it is false doctrine you are responsible for leading many astray.  Don't do it!

5.  Don't copy, recreate or model - originate.  Originate!

6. Be an idea magnet, collect and aggregate the utterance of the Holy Spirit in your life, and the world around you as it shapes your experience and walk with God.  Be ready at any moment for an "epiphany" that shapes those moments into a song.

7. Write, rewrite, scrutinize, analyze, criticize your own work. Share it and get feedback, don't be afraid to tweek the song further. It isn't a child you gave birth to, it's one of a billion songs written over the history of mankind.  Live with it a while until it feels right and is right.  Don't be afraid to shelve it until a later date.

8. Great songs often sound ridiculously simple, yet are the product of careful crafting and good choices made musically, melodically, harmonically, and theologically.

9. Can your average Joe sing your song?  If it is for congregational worship, it's a good idea to put it in a singable key and range.  My litmus test of a great accessible song is usually, "How would Diane Zschech sound singing this song?"  As a general rule, most tenors/baritones can lead the songs she leads, and most altos/sopranos can as well.  They seem to fall right in the sweet spot of vocal accessibility.  There is a reason the whole world sang "Shout to The Lord."

10.  Write a song everyday.  Consider most of them practice material. When you hit 1000 songs, see what has taken place in your song writing savvy and your ability to write great "hooks" and great lyrics.  Resolve this;  if no one ever sang a song you wrote, you will have done it as an act of worship and sacrifice in an intimate relationship with your Lord.  And nothing else really matters beyond that.