TO WRITING A
CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP SONG
The Right Time [continued]
I am going to invite you to walk through a creative process.
Genesis 24:26,27 “26 Then the man bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord. 27 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren. 28 So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things.” (NKJV)
Typically, in a lot of contemporary churches these days, we are often encouraged to bow our heads in prayer, lift our hands in worship or shout for joy in praise. When writing a worship song, I find it useful to stop and think about these things. What would happen if we mixed it up a little? Let me throw another few thoughts out there to help explain.
As a general sort of pattern (and not always of course), does your church service setlist have 3 fast songs followed by 2 slow ones? Or do you think, as a general sort of pattern (and not always of course), do you start with what are termed “Praise” songs which are normally at a faster tempo, and then get into some ‘real’ “Worship” songs which are generally slower and more heart-wrenching in their lyrical content. If so, why? There may be nothing necessarily wrong with this perhaps, but let's enjoy a creative journey.
The teaching for this tradition generally originated from observations of the Old Testament pattern of Tabernacle worship - which involved going through the “Outer Courts Of Praise”, and then entering the "Inner Courts" and finally the “Holy of Holies” with more reverence and ‘fear’. This by the way, as it happens, is a form of worship as required under the Old Covenant. If your services follow these Old Testament patterns, no harm done of course. But again, I wonder what new writing ideas would come if we began to ask why, and what if we did things differently? Stay with me here, it is just a creative process to think this through and help us with our writing.
What would happen if we wrote a song about bowing our heads in worship to precede when we burst into thankful praise filled with joy and celebration? Now here is an interesting thought - what would happen if we ordered our setlist this way, rather than the other way around?
The pattern in Genesis 24 is; a) the man first “bowed his head in worship”, and then b) poured forth proclamations of praise and joy, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth”. So, in modern-day terms of the typical ‘praise’ and ‘worship’ setlist (for want of a better-defined term), his ‘setlist’ started with bowing in reverent worship as the prelude to upbeat proclamations of praise. (See, we can still use an Old Testament pattern, but going on a journey that breaks a few paradigms certainly brings a whole different perspective on it doesn’t it?).
If you have followed along, you will see we have thought of different approaches to the lyrics of a song, their correlation between lyrical content and traditionally accepted tempo, and positioning with regards to the worshipper singing them and their order in the setlist.
So, when you sit down to write your next worship song, for a bit of fun and an experiment in creative process, I suggest you try doing so without preconceived ideas of what tempo it should be with respect to the lyric, or the freedom to proclaim joyfully with zeal our intimate expression of relationship with God, or changing the order so you can bow your head in worship as an act to support praise rather than follow it.
If you think about it, the doors have suddenly opened up a lot in terms of songwriting possibilities. Try it. For example, think about what you would normally hear in a worship song, and write that with a fast tempo. Or, for example, think of how to write an intimate song about dancing before (or even with) the Lord using a slow tempo (ever heard of a slow waltz?).
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“Working with Paul was a fantastic experience. He possesses all the skills necessary to create incredible music. He is equally adept as a songwriter or as a producer. As a songwriter he has a great ear for both melody and lyrics and as a Producer he knows how to treat and draw the best out of a song”
Paul Avanti Iannuzzelli (MMus, BMusEd) studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Sydney, and later at Oxford University, England. He has written and designed courses for Schools, Colleges and delivered University level programs all over the globe.
Paul has worked on projects with some of the world's most successful songwriters and musicians. He has ministered with and alongside well-known worship leaders.
Paul's songs have recorded and released globally.
As a Music Producer, Music Publisher, Songwriter, Author, Poet and Painter, Paul aims to share his decades of experience and knowledge with you in helping you to write your own worship song.