(photo from http://worshipleader.com)
In the May 2011 issue of Worship Leader magazine, they publish an article called “20 Insights from Worship Hymn Writers” in the “toolbox” portion of the magazine. Note the insights:
- Worship songwriting begins and ends with listening prayer
- Hymn writing is a calling for all and a vocation for some
- Always remember who your audience is
- All hymn to God have worth, but not all will be widely sung
- Acknowledge and expand your radius of creativity. When you write, you draw from everyone and everything you’ve known and experienced. Your church, pastor, family are all part of your process.
- Simple is different than shallow. Using simple language can convey profound truth, but using lazy rhymes, formulaic phrasing and confused metaphors, and the same Scriptural phrase in the same way with the same arrangement won’t communicate the freshness of God.
- Comparison narrows the flow of creativity. When you compare yourself with others your focus moves from God to you. There is a difference between learning from others and comparing yourselves to them.
- Worship encompasses the whole of who we are: spirit, soul, (mind and emotions), and body. Write hymns of praise and adoration to God.
- It’s never to late (or too early) to begin writing hymns of praise and adoration to God.
- Jesus spoke the language of His day-not King James English-and when you write a hymn to Him, you might want to follow His example.
- Your voice is an instrument: don’t let your lack of playing another one curtail our calling.
- Hymn writing for he larger church may last for a season or for a lifetime.
- Don’t leave little ones our of your hymning. Write hymns profound enough to challenge a theologian and simple enough to convert a child.
- The heavenly formula for writing great hymns of worship is “there is no formula.”
- Have the heart of an amateur in doing what you do because of love – even if you are a professional.
- Have a trusted network that speaks into your life and songs. Listen to them and then take questions to God.
- Know when to hold the line on your creativity. Sometimes you know that you know that something is right, even if it seems a little odd.
- Don’t be afraid to risk and go out on a limb. You can always reel it in.
- Make sure that style serves substance and both serve God.
- Heavenly-hymn writing catalyzes earthly transformation.
Interesting insights from the magazine…I appreciate the hymn writing perspective. But, there isn’t any back story. Just a two-page layout of these points. There is no info on who was interviewed or any other information. Maybe it’s better this way, though. Maybe we shouldn’t cloud our view of these tips based off of the composers we sing in worship or don’t sing in worship. It’s possible we could wrongfully judge the perspective or tune-out the perspective if are judgement toward a specific composer just because we don’t prefer his or her music.
I like the most of the points given and agree with almost all of them. Some could be taken the wrong way, for example: point number 10 about language. Point number 10 is an opinion. I believe the hymn should be Biblical. As long as the language is Biblical, nothing else matters. Point number 12 is not really an insight compared to point number one. Point number 12 is more of a statement based on personal experience. It isn’t usable for leaders in all churches.