Christian Songwriting: Song Content - Beginning, Middle & End
Verse 1 - The Beginning
This is where you introduce the character - or subject matter - giving some details. We could begin anywhere in the life of Jesus, from His birth to His death. But in this example, we begin with Jesus working miracles by healing the blind and the lame.
Verse 2 - The Middle
Now develop your character or subject matter a little and prepare for your conclusion. Remember that you are now leading into the final verse, so make it punchy and brief. It used not to be unusual for songs to continue for up to ten verses or more, but nowadays (probably because of the effects of television) people generally don't have that kind of attention span. Remember that here you should be working towards the conclusion of the song. For example, Jesus was an innocent man but they arrested Him anyway.
Verse 3 - The End
Make your point and conclude your story. Most songs have some purpose behind them, and express or imply the author's philosophy of life. For instance, I could not write a song lauding the virtues of multiple sexual relationships: I don't believe in it. And someone who did write a song of that nature is disclosing something of their personal beliefs system. But apart from the general declaration of your values throughout the song, the final verse is where you can clearly make your point and say what you want to say. For example, Jesus was crucified for our wrongdoings.
The story can be further developed by adding a chorus which talks about His resurrection from the dead. The function of the chorus is to bring in a recurring theme and crystallise the message. It helps to provide continuity - often the chorus becomes the means to link the verses together in a common theme.
Usually, the last line of each verse leads into the chorus. You should almost be able to insert the words, "And so...." or "But then...." or similar between the last line of each verse and the first line of the chorus. So now that we've seen it done in theory, let's see how the lyrics could develop in a song which we'll call "He Rose Again":
Verse 1 - The BeginningJesus healed the blind man and the lame. Touched them by the power of His name. He drove away their fears, and wiped away their tears, And ever since He did this world will never be the same.
ChorusAnd He rose again, He rose again. Death could never hold Him, so He rose again.
Verse 2 - The MiddleThey came and took Him captive in the night With clubs and swords. They were looking for a fight. But all His friends had fled, and an innocent man was led To stand before the enemies of the light.
Verse 3 - The Endhey beat Him and they whipped Him till He bled. They put a crown of thorns upon His head. They nailed Him to a tree where He died for you and me And they thought it was the end when He was dead.
Notice how the story is developed from a definite beginning, through to a distinct conclusion. This leaves the listener with a sense that the song is complete. It's amazing how many stories leave you with the impression that the author ran out of either time or inspiration. Even movies can sometimes give you cause to wonder if they ran out of funds before they could finish it.
Although our song begins during Jesus' earthly ministry, it could have begun anywhere: the virgin birth; the Messianic prophecies; the creation of mankind; or even way back in eternity. You could even begin at the resurrection, then using the flashback technique, go back and outline the events that led up to it. There are many possibilities. And these are just general overviews of His life, not to mention specific events that occurred while He was on earth. (As far as specific instances in the life of Jesus are concerned, Don Francisco is a uniquely gifted writer, and effectively brings these stories to life in song. "Since I Met Him I Can See", "Got To Tell Somebody", and "Too Small A Price" are well worth listening to as shining examples of anointed songs. He has not only captured the main facts of the stories, but also the emotion.)
Observe also in our song that the title is taken from the chorus, that it is repetitive, and that for these reasons it should become the main song hook. The rime pattern in each verse is AABA using internal rimes in the third lines.Lyric Writing - Rhyme | Lyric Writing - Lyrical Hooks | Song Content - Song Plan | Song Structure | Musical Elements | Rhythmic Devices | Melody Writing | Writer's Block