Category Archives: Song Writing

The Gift of Music


The Gift of Music

Good musicians say that it is not the notes but the pauses between the notes that make music.

Our God just pours out blessings upon blessings on us believers through His gracious gift of music. We need to use it wisely to His glory. Just pause for a moment and think about how great music really is.

To take the gift of music and use it for the reason God gave it to us is nothing short of miraculous, no matter how simple or how elaborate the offering is, how new or old it is and whether it is accompanied by one instrument or one hundred. As long as it proclaims truth and comes from a heart of praise, our singing delights the heart of God. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Musician

• The Holy Spirit fills the heart of the musician to the point of overflow.

• Filled musicians will easily find the “pocket” of the song.

• A good musician is humble, with a heart longing after God’s.

• A good musician does not want to be on a platform. They desire the opposite; to be made “less of” so that God may increase. They understand that if you don’t have a hunger for the things of God, then you must be full of yourself.

• A good musician will not only lead a congregation in worship, their actions will command it. Being filled with the Spirit, they will engage you to sing, to praise, to pray, to feel the music and to listen with your heart. People will want to join in and sing.

The Lyrics

• Good lyrics embrace me. Like a rare earth magnet, they can pull you into the song.

• Good lyrics are memorable. They are truthful, Christ-centered, gospel-focused, bursting with grace, filled with scriptural language and remind us of hope. I recently heard the word hope described as this acronym: “Hold On, Pain Ends.”

• Good lyrics become part of your vocabulary.

• Good lyrics stimulate your emotions, especially longing to be with God

The Music

• Music is a symphony of harmonies blending together around a melody and being carried by a groove that diffuses into your heart.

• A good melody is easy to sing and as memorable as Yankee Doodle Dandy. It is enjoyable. It adds strength to the lyrics. It matches the mood and feeling of the worship.

• A good beat gets your foot tapping; even the most stoic Lutheran.

The Test

You’ll know when you have heard a good song, offered by a gifted musician who understands the source of the gift, with finely honed truth-filled lyrics and a beat that drives the message into your melon – it’s the song that you’ve chosen for your funeral! My guess is that it’s hymn.

 

It is the Holy Spirit


It’s the Holy Spirit
I know it’s the Holy Spirit
Who causes my eyes to see
He warms my heart
And inspires this poetry

For in Christ, I am enriched
In knowledge and in speech
For He expands my senses
He inspires, and He’ll teach

I know it’s the Holy Spirit
That makes the living waters flow
So I write this poetry often
When the wonder just seems to flow

The above poem was written by Bobby Brown, author of ”Seated Above Looking Below.”

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KY44A2G/ref=aslitl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KY44A2G&linkCode=as2&tag=woidyocaus-20&linkId=LWBPP6CWDWQ2OXDX”>Seated Above, Looking Below

A Song Writing Tip from Fernando Ortega


Here is a New Year’s resolution for songwriters and if you are not a song writer, just be impressed that there are contemporary artists who think this way:

As an example of brilliant lyric writing, one that contains powerful and substantive imagery, consider the Thomas Kelly hymn “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.” Take a moment to read these words slowly, and if you’re a songwriter, allow the Holy Spirit to inspire a greater commitment to writing songs that feed people rather than songs that merely feel good. – Fernando Ortega

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
By His Son, God now has spoken:
’Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him,
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ’s the Rock of our salvation,
His the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

Excerpted from: http://www.worshipmatters.com/2007/07/24/songwriting-tip/

The Makings of a Great Worship Hymn or Song


The Makings of a Great Worship Hymn or Song

What constitutes a great worship song? As conservative Lutherans, we often turn to the lyrics. It’s not a bad place to start, but it doesn’t or should not end there. I’ll give you an example. There have been times in worship when we were trying to sing a hymn that was so choppy and musically so foreign, dissonant or outdated that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t trudge my way through it – praying didn’t even help. I stopped the struggle mid way through and decided to just read the words to myself as some of those around me kept struggling. Just reading the lyrics is still good worship, but it could have been better and it would have been better if those powerful, poetic, theologically sound and rich lyrics were matched with a better melody. Likewise, I’ve experienced the opposite extreme. In my house, while practicing a new contemporary piece. Completely wrapped up in the music. Affected and impressed with the melody and the chord progression. Then it dawns on me that I’m singing something so lyrically shallow that it doesn’t even mention “God” let alone Jesus, nor does it contain any biblical language. It’s just not fitting for worship. I should also state that I’ve tried to sing other contemporary pieces that had beautiful biblical lyrics but the music was so syncopated, complex, jumpy and “rangey” that I couldn’t sing it.

So I come back to my opening question. What constitutes a great worship song? You know where I’m going; it’s a combination of great words and great music. We need both because that’s the way that God designed music to be. In his wonderful grace, He has designed it to be a moving, inspirational, powerful, heartfelt expression for us to use towards and about him, but it does blossom with both beautiful words, matched with beautiful music.

How does one match song lyrics to music? Perhaps a few examples would help. A mournful, sorrow-filled song like “Were You There?” needs to be sung in a reflective, slow dirge-like tempo. “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” incredibly contains only 5 notes in its simple, yet powerfully introspective story. There’s a contemporary song called “Grace Flows Down” by Chris Tomlin and the music gracefully flows down a major musical scale as we sing these incredible words:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound;
amazing love, now flowing down
from hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
as grace flows down and covers me.

What a powerful combination of music and words, both flowing down to us worshippers from God above. I get shivers just thinking about it.

Have you ever thought about the melody line that goes with Keith Getty and Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone”, especially where it starts to soar in the line that goes: “What heights of love, what depths of peace?” I’ll bet you can sing it to yourself right now. Even if you’ve only heard the song once or twice, because good music has that affect. As I sing this song I feel like I’m soaring with the angels on that “heights of love and depths of peace” ride! Singing this song takes the singer on a memorable journey with Christ. This is simply modern hymnody at its best. It is a matched lyrical story coupled with supportive, beautiful memorable music.

How About “God be with You Till We Meet Again”? I defy anyone to sing this at your Pastor’s going away service or at a funeral and not be entirely consumed by it. It is an incredible combination of words and music rolled together into a meaningful worship experience. And the most amazing thing is that the music really doesn’t have the power to do any of this, it’s actually the Holy Spirit working in you and He’s using the music to reach your heart. How neat is that?

This is one of the things that our church’s need more of today; and I’m referring to all Christian denominations. Worship leaders and Pastors need to pay attention to more than just the lyrics. That’s old school; that’s a given and quite frankly, churches are dying that have this mindset.. We need the best that worship music has to offer. We need to avoid songs with great lyrics but are unsingable on one end and songs that are hip and catchy but have shallow lyrics on the other end and any undesirable combination therein. We need the best lyrics, the best poetry, the best rhythms, the best harmonies, the best melodies, the best chord structures, the best pairing of lyrics and music and the best musical dynamics because God deserves our best.

Please note that it is not about style. It is not about hymns vs contemporary music. It is not about guitars vs organs. It’s not about using a particular song or hymn on a given Sunday because we’ve done it that way for centuries. It’s not about my quirky preferences or your peculiar likes and dislikes. It’s not about being a Lutheran hymn or an African American Spiritual. It’s not about wondering if a Lutheran can sing a biblically rich song written by a Presbyterian musician. It’s not about making sure that the Gospel is in every song that we sing. It’s not about stringing songs together into a perfectly transitioned set. It’s not about denominations. If we are not careful, these types of things can become worldly, filthy rag-like entrapments that only serve to take our focus off God.

In the end, it is about God; our creator, our savior, our friend, our redeemer, our rock and our fortress. And it’s about us giving him our very best and being choosy in the songs we use.

Now go and make beautiful music with your congregations and may the Holy Spirit bless and guide your efforts.

What’s in a Name?


the Names of Jesus

Want to write your own worship song about Jesus?  Here are some names that He goes by (in alphabetic order), to help stir your songwriting imagination:

Jesus is the Amen, the Apostle, the Atoning Sacrifice, the author of their salvation, the  Alpha and Omega, the blessed and only ruler, the bread of God, the Bread of Life, the capstone, in fact the chief capstone and the chief shepherd, the deliverer, the eternal life,. faithful and true, the faithful witness, first and the last, the firstborn from the dead, the firstborn over all creation, the Gate, the good shepherd, in fact the great shepherd and the  great high priest, the head, the heir of all things, the high priest, the holy and true, the hope of glory, the horn of salvation, the image of God, Immanuel, the judge of the living and the dead, King Eternal, the King of Israel, the King of Kings, the King of the Ages, the lamb of God, the last Adam, the life, the light of the world, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the living stone, the Lord of All, the Lord of Lords, the mediator of a new covenant, the Morning Star, our great God and Savior, our Passover lamb, the power of God, the precious cornerstone, a prophet, the resurrection and the life, the righteous one, the rock, the Root of David, the ruler of God’s creation, the ruler of the kings of the earth, the savior, the Son of David, the son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of the Most High, the source of eternal salvation, the true bread, the true light, the true vine, the truth, the wisdom of God and the Word.

In songwriting, or writing poetry, I find this on-line rhyming tool to be priceless:

http://rhyme.poetry.com/

You can also use this impressive list as a responsive reading (although this is very long):

Pastor:          These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  (Rev. 3:14)

All:                Jesus is the “Amen”

Pastor:          Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. (Heb. 3:1)

All:                Jesus is the “Apostle”

Pastor:          He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

All:                Jesus is the “Atoning Sacrifice”

Pastor:          In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Heb. 2:10)

All:                Jesus is the “Author of Salvation”

Pastor:          I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Rev. 22:13)

All:                Jesus is the “Beginning and End”

Pastor:          God, the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. (1 Tim. 6:15)

All:                Jesus is “Blessed and only Ruler”

Pastor:          For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33)

All:                Jesus is the “Bread of God”

Pastor:          “I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

All:                Jesus is the “Bread of Life”

Pastor:          He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. (Acts 4:11)

All:                Jesus is the Capstone;

Pastor:          Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizen’s with God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief capstone. (Eph. 2:20)

All:                Jesus is the “Chief Cornerstone”

Pastor:          And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Pet. 5:4)

All:                Jesus is the “Chief Shepherd”

Pastor:          “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.” (Rom. 11:26)

All:                Jesus is the “Deliverer”

Pastor:          He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

All:                Jesus is “Eternal Life”

 Pastor:          I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. (Rev. 19:11)

All:                Jesus is “Faithful and True”

Pastor:          and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:5)

All:                Jesus is the “Faithful Witness”

Pastor:          Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  (Rev. 1:17)

All                 Jesus is the “First and Last”

Pastor:          and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:5)

All:                Jesus is the “Firstborn From the Dead”

Pastor:          He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Col. 1:15)

All:                Jesus is the “Firstborn over all creation”

 Pastor:          I am the Gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:9)

All:                Jesus is the “Gate”

Pastor:          In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   (John 1:1)

All:               Jesus is “God”

Pastor:          I am the Good Shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

All:                Jesus is the “Good Shepherd”

Pastor:          May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will. (Heb. 13:20, 21a)

All:                Jesus is the “Great Shepherd “

Pastor:          Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Heb. 4:14)

All:                Jesus is the “Great High Priest”

Pastor:          And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church. (Eph. 1:22)

All:                Jesus is the “Head of the Church”

Pastor:          But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he made heir of all things, and through him he made the universe. (Heb. 1:2)

All:                Jesus is the “Heir of all things “

Pastor:          For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. (Heb. 2:17)

All:                Jesus is the “High Priest “

Pastor:          These are the words of him who is holy and true. (Rev. 3:7)

All:                Jesus is “Holy and True “

Pastor:          To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

All:                Jesus is the “Hope of Glory “

Pastor:          He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. (Luke 1:69)

All:                Jesus is the “Horn of Salvation”

Pastor:          The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the body of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4)

All:                Jesus is the “Image of God “

Pastor:          The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us.” (Mt. 1:23)

All:                Jesus is “Immanuel “

Pastor:          He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  (Acts 10:42)

All:                Jesus is the “Judge of the living and the dead”

Pastor:          Now to the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory, for ever and ever. (1 Tim. 1:17)

All:                Jesus is the “King Eternal “

Pastor:          “Rabbi, you are the son of God; you are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49)

All:                Jesus is the “King of Israel “

Pastor:          On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  (Rev. 19:16)

All:                Jesus is the “King of kings”

Pastor:          Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the Ages. (Rev. 15:3)

All:                 Jesus is the “King of the Ages”

Pastor:          The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

All:                Jesus is the “Lamb of God “

Pastor:          The first man, Adam, became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45)

All:                Jesus is the “Last Adam”

Pastor:          I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

All:                Jesus is the “Life”

Pastor:          I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

All:                Jesus is the “Light of the World”

Pastor:          See, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. (Rev. 5:5)

All:                Jesus is the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah”

Pastor:          As you come to him, the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.  (1 Pet. 2:4)

All:                Jesus is the “Living Stone”

Pastor:          This is the message that God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of All. (Acts 10:36)

All:                Jesus is “Lord of All”

Pastor:          On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  (Rev. 19:16)

All:                Jesus is the “Lord of Lords”

Pastor:          For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. (Heb. 9:15)

All:                Jesus is the “Mediator of the New Covenant”

Pastor:          I am the root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. (Rev. 22:16)

All:                Jesus is the “Morning Star”

Pastor:          While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:13)

All:                Jesus is “Our Great God and Savior”

Pastor:          Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are.    For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor. 5:7)

All:                Jesus is “Our Passover Lamb”

Pastor:          but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24)

All:                Jesus is the “Power of God”

Pastor:          See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame. (1 Pet. 2:6)

All:                Jesus is the “Precious Cornerstone”

Pastor:          The Lord your God will raise for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. (Acts 3:22)

All:                Jesus is the “Prophet”

Pastor:          I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25)

All:                Jesus is the “Resurrection and Life”

Pastor:          Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. (Acts 7:52)

All:                Jesus is the “Righteous One”

Pastor:          They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4)

All:                Jesus is the “Rock”

Pastor:          See, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. (Rev. 5:5)

All:                Jesus is the “Root of David”

Pastor:          These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  (Rev. 3:14)

All:                Jesus is the “Ruler of God’s Creation”

Pastor:          and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev. 1:5)

All:                Jesus is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth”

Pastor:          For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. (Eph. 5:23)

All:                Jesus is the “Savior”

Pastor:          Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Lk. 18:39)

All:                Jesus is the “Son of David”

Pastor:          Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Heb. 4:14)

All:                Jesus is the “Son of God”

Pastor:          Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. (Mt. 8:20)

All:                Jesus is the “Son of Man”

Pastor:          He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. (Lk. 1:32)

All:                Jesus is the “Son of the Most High God”

Pastor:          Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Heb. 5:9)

All:                Jesus is the “Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him”

Pastor:          “I tell you the truth,  it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)

All:                Jesus is the “True Bread”

Pastor:          The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. (John 1:9)

All:                Jesus is the “True Light”

Pastor:          I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1)

All:                Jesus is the “True Vine”

Pastor:          I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 1:14)

All:                Jesus is the “Truth”

Pastor:          but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24)

All:                Jesus is the “Wisdom of God”

Pastor:          In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   (John 1:1)

All:                Jesus is the “Word”

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society