Awhile ago I created an write-up titled “How To Write A Really Mediocre Worship Song.” It was a tongue in cheek examination of great song-writing in reverse. I obtained many emails with many type of various takes on what I’d composed. Some were offfinished. Some were really, really offended (Perhaps they were spectacularly effective at creating mediocre songs and didn’t choose me offering the keys away.) Others laughed with me, and maybe at me… I don’t understand.

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At the current Christian Musician’s Summit I taught a class on songwriting. The response was great. The course appeared to be paying attention, taking notes and all. They were actually taking this seriously. So, I’d prefer to make up for my previous sins and also offer you some severe, straightforward songwriting tips.

Number One- Say One Thing. If you are composing a song around mercy, don’t introduce the topic of love; conserve that for another song. If your lyrics speak around the goodness of God, don’t sheight about impfinishing judgment. Stick tightly to your topic. Wrap your words favor skin about it.

I composed a worship song dubbed “In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified.” Tbelow are just five notes to the melody of the chorus and also just salso words in the lyric. It is a straightforward prayer. Had I also talked about the power of God, or His great love, I would certainly have actually diminished the power of the song. I am of the opinion that as soon as you say 2 points in a song, you reduced the power of the song in half. Just like in prose or public speaking, an effective message is a focused message. Keep it easy. Say one point.

Number Two – Say it Sindicate. Too many kind of words spoil the soup. Beginning songwriters deserve to experience from the misconception that a advanced song needs more words. On the contrary, the extremely best, many sophisticated lyrics have been pared down to the absolute bare minimum. Instances of this are simple to find in pop music- “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” That’s The Way, Uh-huh, Uh-huh, I Like It,” anything by Britney Spears- yet don’t think that these are easy only because they’re mindless. One of my favorite songs, “Lush Life,” was written by Billy Strayhorn as soon as he was sixteenager years old. It has actually wondertotally interesting chord alters and also an excellent melody, and the lyric is exquisite perfection; simple and to the suggest. Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus is one more great example.

It is much harder to create a straightforward song than it is to create a complicated one. Simple songs take job-related. Inspiration must give way to craft. You begin with a great principle. The lyric and also the melody seem to fit well together. You write loads of words over an evolving chord progression. You fill up a pair of pperiods through principles. Now you have to carve amethod at it until tright here is nothing left but what belongs. You may need to omit lyrics you really choose. Don’t worry. You still have actually the lyrics. Save them. But if it doesn’t fit the One Thing you are creating around in this song, be ruthmuch less and throw them out.

I have a song called “Nails In The Hands Of A Carpenter” that I have composed 3 times. That is, I have 3 entirely different versions of the exact same song. The initially two are okay. I can usage the lyrics an additional time, yet they did not interact what I was trying to say. The initially verse of the initially version went favor this;

This old residence was falling downSorry and also sinking, developed on shaky groundToo many years of never enoughNot a lot to look at, not much to loveThen a carpenter came and also sassist “I love this old houseAnd I’d favor to make it my own”So He bought it and relocated it to solid groundAnd through His very own hands He made this home His home(chorus) Nails in the hands of a carpenter…

Not a poor lyric, however as I review it I realized that this was a song around a residence, NOT around nails in the carpenter’s hands. So I composed version #2;

Wouldn’t you understand it was nailsThey put in the hands of the carpenterAnd wouldn’t you recognize that the wood of the crossAnd the hammer they used would cause Him such loss(chorus) Nails in the hands of a carpenter…

Closer, yet it lacked any kind of wit. The title has actually a little of immediate, joyful word-play around it that this lyric simply did not have actually. So onto an additional principle. These two had taken practically six years to write, mostly bereason I had to let each idea fade prior to I could begin on the next one. Finally, I had an concept for version #3;

It wasn’t a pen in the hands of a poet that resulted in my heart to singIt wasn’t a brush in the hands of a painter that attracted me to the KingAnd it wasn’t a sword in the hands of a soldier that set my heart freeIt was greater than these, it was nails in the hands of a carpenter

It wasn’t a coin in the hands of a seller that purchased me through goldIt wasn’t a sceptre in the courts of a king that bid me come so boldIt wasn’t a net in the hands of a fisher that caught my floundering soulIt was greater than these, it was nails in the hands of a carpenter

(bridge) Oh the lumber of the cross and the hammer they usedWere devices of the carpenter’s tradeAnd once they put the nails in His hands that dayIt expected my debt was paid

It wasn’t the words of a thundering prophet that washed me choose the rainIt wasn’t the presents of 3 wandering wise guys that turned my loss to gainIt wasn’t the touch of the hands of a surgeon that eased my spirit’s painIt was higher than these, it was nails in the hands of a carpenterAnd if you believe, you’re so thankful for nails in the handsNails in the hands of a carpenter

This after six years. But I lastly had something that pleased me. I am vain enough to desire to point out the little bit word-plays- “brush…painter…drew”, “net…fisher…floundering sole”, “thundering prophet…rain.” I had so many kind of other concepts that never before made it to the song. You will, also. Be ruthless through your very own words.

Number Three- No Explanation Needed. Often when I am critiquing a lyric for a song-writer, they will certainly say something like, “Well, what I meant by that was…” or “I had this suffer where…” or “God was taking me via this lesboy and…”… If your lyric requirements explaining, it’s not a good lyric. Period. This is not to say that your lyric might not have actually a deeper definition if the listener knows the scenarios of its production. Tbelow are many type of extremely cool songs that are even cooler to the ones that have actually the inside story. “Martha, My Dear” by Paul McCartney was written around his dog. That truth was not listed in the liner notes, yet once you understand it, the lyrics have an additional meaning that’s pretty funny. However before, the song stands on it’s own without explanation. Hopecompletely, more civilization will certainly hear your song than you would certainly have time to define it to. Let the lyric stop for itself. If it doesn’t, create one that does.

Number Four- Make Your Lyrics Speakable. Some songs sound choose Yoda wrote them; “To the Lord I am listening…”, “Our voices currently we raise…” While you are creating the lyric, stop it to make certain it lays well. Soptimal it in the rhythm of the melody to make sure the focus of the melody is falling in the same location that the focus of the sentence have to be. As an example, you deserve to give the over lyric a number of different interpretations ssuggest by the focus of your melody;to the LORD I am listening (various other voices crowd my head, yet I am listening to GOD)to the Lord I am listening (focus on “I”) (others might not, however I will hear Him)to the Lord I AM listening (I wasn’t paying attention before, however currently I am)

Make sure your melody supports the One Thing your lyric is around. Remember additionally that songs are not just poems set to music. Many poems must be changed, even if just slightly, to concreate them to a workable, singable melody.

Number Five- Eextremely Tune Needs An Audience. This is extremely necessary. Perhaps I should have actually made it number two or 3. Try to recognize as quickly in the song-composing procedure that the audience is for this song. Are you writing to yourself, God, the Church, an unbeliever (individual), unbelievers (plural), a wayward Christian, your wife, a lost loved one? Once you understand the audience, STICK TO THAT AUDIENCE! Do NOT adjust audiences in the middle of the song. Unfortunately, there are many type of examples of audience-altering in Christian songs, some quite renowned worship songs among them. (Note: a popular song is not necessarily a well composed song.) If your song is directed to God, then continue talking to God in your song from first to last. Similar to in conversation, you don’t begin talking to a second perboy in the middle of a sentence or paragraph.

If the verse is directed to your dog, the chorus need to be to your dog, also. Your dog requirements to hear what you have to say. If your verse is to your dog and your chorus is to me, I could attract negative effects about your intentions (and I won’t buy the album.) Sheight to one audience.

Number Six- One Metaphor At A Time. This should be evident, however apparently, it is not. When I wrote in my “Mediocre Song” post about the “hand of God raining dvery own on me,” I was attempting humor. To some, this is a perfectly acceptable phrase. They couldn’t understand also my complaint. To me, though, this is worse than cats and dogs. Rain belongs in one verse, the hand also of God in one more. When you compose, imagine a situation. See a room, a field, a temple, the Holy of Holies. See yourself in the location. See your posture; are you kneeling, standing, sitting, walking or lying prostrate? Let your lyric conform to your imagined place, circumstance and also posture. This will certainly help you communicate even more precisely and will make your lyric more effective.

I composed a song dubbed “Here Am I (Send Me To The Nations).” It pertained to me simply as I was stepping out onto the stage at a youth conference in Hamilton, Ontario in the mid-Eighties. It was an proper message for the civilization tright here that night so I sang it. Years later on, the fellow that did sound at the conference sent out me a Christmas gift; the original cassette recording of that song from the night of its birth. I was struck by just how a lot the song had adjusted from that initially rendition to the finimelted variation. I don’t also remember altering it, however I did. And it’s a much better song for it. Recompose ruthlessly. If you don’t criticize your song, tright here is a silent public who will certainly. One more note on this point; don’t think ANY of your good friends or household who tell you your song is excellent just the means it is. They’re lying because they love you. Let a dispassionate person hear it. Let someone that doesn’t like you hear it. They’ll tell you the reality.

Number Eight- Your Hook Is Your Title. Aget, this have to be obvious. When world refer to your song, they are going to describe it by the most apparent, memorable line from it. You must, too. If your hook is a collection of grunts and whoops, speak to your song “The Grunting, Whooping Track.” I composed a song for my Dad shortly after he passed away dubbed “One Of These Days.” In the chorus tbelow is a sing-alengthy “Hey, Ho, Hey, Ho” that is rather relocating to do in concert. That’s the component that sticks through the audience. People contact it “The Hey Ho Tune.” I do, too…currently.

Number Nine- Read. If you desire to rise your ability with words, read even more. An eighty year old woman told me last weekend in Ohio that she remembers her husband having read just three books in 52 years of marriage. It may not have actually affected his life and also task also a lot, yet a halittle of not analysis is death to a writer. You need to review the way other human being use words. It will certainly increase your knowledge of the language. Read good writers. Magazines and also comics don’t count here. Most recent books in the Christian sector are not that well composed, either. Choose wisely. Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, G.K. Chesterton and also Flannery O’Connor are good founding points. If you think that you’ll sindicate neglect this point, you are doing yourself a discompany and also limiting your expansion. Read the Holy bible. I am occasionally appalled at the lack of expertise many kind of Christian musicians have actually of the Bible. It will aid your creating if you understand your topic.

On a related note, listen to great music. Write exercise songs in the exact same style as your favorite artists. This will aid you understand also their usage of melody and also chord framework.

Number Ten- My Pet Peeve; Songs That Motivate With Guilt. This is not so much a lyrical reminder as it is a idea for Christian authors. I created an album recently for a fellow that had actually a song about the wonderful sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. In the bridge he wanted to introduce one more layout, which was “if God did this for you, why won’t you execute more for Him?” Of course, this damaged dominance number one ideal away. He was saying two points. But it likewise introduced the inspiration of guilt. I tried to skirt the concern and also imply that he might write a much better lyric, however he maintained coming ago through the exact same message in a new form. I lastly simply told him that I couldn’t agree via the suggest of the lyric. If Jesus, “that for the joy that was collection before Him, withstood the cross, experiencing the shame” went to the cross for joy, then exactly how can I feel any kind of in different ways about it than He did? If it was Jesus’ joy, then it’s my joy, too. God gives freely, without demanding rerotate. That is the dangerous message of the cross. Nopoint you perform can or will certainly make a distinction in that. God offered for joy. That’s all. We provide our lives to Him for the exact same joy. Don’t rotate the Good News right into Mostly Good News, Somewhat Good News or even Bad News. Resist the temptation to motivate via guilt. Let your audience come openly to the cross.

Rule Number Eleven- Timeless and Timely. Some songs are excellent for a year or 2 and also then they’re gone and forgotten. Others are still here after thousands of years. Both are okay. We need songs that are so timemuch less that they transcfinish society and adjust by speaking of those things that do not change. We additionally require songs that tell us around the below and currently. The rare songs do both. Christian songs by their extremely nature are attempting to connect a timemuch less fact in a timely method. If you are creating for the entirety human being, make a song that will be correct anywhere. There are many Amerihave the right to Christian songs that just don’t work in various other countries. My son, who is a writer, was visiting an Asian Communist country and also was attfinishing a clandestine Christian gathering in a jungle clearing. He didn’t recognize the words of the song these oppressed Christians were passionately singing so he asked his overview to translate for him. They were not singing about just how good it is to be in His presence, or exactly how blessed we all are, or exactly how God breaks eexceptionally chain and sets us free. They were singing together “How long, O Lord, will certainly you forobtain us?” Remember them once you write your song.

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I hope these thoughts will assist you create good songs. If you still create mediocre songs, take some comfort in knowing that eextremely writer writes mediocre songs. The good ones come through perseverance and also exercise.

This article originally showed up in Christian Musician magazine. Bob Kilpatrick composed the classic worship choruses “In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified” and “Here Am I (Send Me To The Nations)”, has actually a daily devotional on the KLove radio network-related and also has actually a new book coming out via Zondervan in 2010. His website is at