HotPraise: Christian Songwriting

You might be asking, "Why would you write about songwriting?" After all, isn't, songwriting a gift that should come naturally? Surely sweet melodies should flow without being coerced, and beautiful lyrics should issue forth unprompted!

The answer to this question is both yes and no. No one could guarantee that you will become a successful songwriter. Because there's a certain amount of truth in the adage, "You either got it, or you ain't" If you feel you've "got it," then what this site is designed to do, is to help you to refine and improve "it." Natural talent is certainly an essential quality, but songwriting is also a craft. And those who wish to excel in this craft need to study it as they would any other.

Mozart studied music; Christopher Wren, the designer of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London studied architecture; painters study painting; doctors, accountants, and carpenters study their professions. So why should songwriting be any different?

But shouldn't the Christian songwriter be divinely inspired and therefore need no training? It sounds good, but this kind of reasoning is just an excuse for laziness. It's astounding to think of the kind of second-rate material that has been passed off over the years as having been inspired by God.

I cringe sometimes when I hear of someone talking about a song God gave to them, knowing that God is capable of creating songs of such infinite beauty and perfection as to be beyond the imagination of any mere human. Often the material He is being credited with (or, more accurately, blamed for) is clearly so inferior that you cannot help but wonder how they arrived at the conclusion that it was God who gave it to them.

That's not to say that I don't believe that the Lord has given some songs to authors in their entirety. I even received the chorus to one of my songs in a dream. However, this is the exception rather than the rule, just as His supplying water out of a rock, or money out of a fish's mouth to pay your tax, is not the norm. (If you don't think that's true, try telling the tax collector to go fish for it at the end of the next financial year.)

So how should the Christian songwriter operate? How much of the song is from God, and how much is from the author? I believe that we should look to God as our source of inspiration and to enable us continually to produce the best we are capable of. After all, He is the Supreme Creator.

But there's more to it than that. The Bible (1 Cor 3:9) tells us that we are "God's fellow workers." This tells us first of all that there is work involved in whatever we do for God, and that secondly, we are to cooperate with God in doing His work. It's a partnership.

If we believe this, then we cannot neglect our responsibility to learn as much as we can about the methods and techniques comprising our craft. Rather, it should spur us on to pursue excellence, knowing that we serve a God of excellence to whom we will one day give an account.

With this goal in mind, it is also time that many Christians stopped hiding their heads in the sand, and pretending that there's nothing that we can learn from those who excel in the secular music world. If they do it well, no matter how much we may disagree with their philosophy of life, then we should be humble enough to learn from them. Consequently, I have cited both Christian and secular examples of songwriting techniques.

I hope you will find the materials necessary for your songwriting ability to be used in a genuine and effective ministry for the Lord.

Lyric Writing - Rhyme | Lyric Writing - Lyrical Hooks | Song Content - Song Plan | Song Structure | Musical Elements | Rhythmic Devices | Melody Writing | Writer's Block