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Writing Lyrics for the Church

Jeremy Riddle

0:24:12 · Songwriting

Jeremy discusses how a great song is written, including the benefits of co-writing, testing your song, and the importance of melody.

Writing Lyrics

Jeremy Riddle

Jeremy shares his love for writing lyrics. His passion and strength is lyrics and he has developed his skills in melodies.

Co-writing is becoming really big, for the better of songwriting.

A pop song doesn’t need to say anything. It is only responsible to communicate a feeling. A worship song is completely different. The gospel is a message and it is our responsibility to give the message a heart.

Content really matters. Songs that talk about God, that tell people of His greatness are really, really powerful. They can have a really cheesy melody, but be so incredibly powerful. Jeremy illustrates with the song “Yahweh”, a song that uncovers the attributes of the Father God and communicates it well.

Co-writing enables you to see more than you might have seen on your own. Jeremy discusses the writing process of “This is Amazing Grace”. Who is this God? And what does he do? Content took this song to another level.

If you want to be an amazing lyricist, you need to feast on great lyricists. You also need to read, read a lot.

To be a great worshipper you need to be a great studier of God. Know your God. Make Him known. This is the cry of the worshipper.

Learn to write with your spirit. Find the power of rest. Find that connection - words leap of the page - your spirit is connecting.

Rhymulator - app. Jeremy uses this when he needs new vocabulary.

Journals are inspiring. Keep writing in one. Read various bible translations and use all of them for vocabulary in writing.

Melody and lyrics are supposed to flow together, like partners in a dance. How well do your lyrics flow with your melody? Your melody is king. Know your melody, otherwise you’ll bend your melody to communicate your word/message.

Test your lyrics out on friends, particularly ones who are not musical. They will help you discover what parts of the song are tricky for congregational use.

A great writer already knows the message of a melody. The lyrics only verbally communicate that message. Don’t use too many big words or concepts.

Find your language. Use your language for your experiences with God. It’s a love letter from your heart and experience. Don’t use someone else’s language. When you can hear someone’s heart in their song, it totally changes the feel of the song.

Listen to great writers and listen to them use their own language.

Jeremy discusses the writing process of one of Hunter’s songs.

Jeremy has had some instincts with regards to writing, he was born with much of it. But a lot of it he has studied for and worked hard at. It’s also about learning what to let go of, what’s damaging your writing process?

Jeremy closes in prayer for the students.

Q & A:

Topics covered: - How does Jeremy deal with the struggle of excellence vs criticism. You’re not always there to critique a song. Critiquing a song is part of learning. But you also need to be able to lay it down and worship.
- Parody
- Using old hymns - it is our heritage. Study them, and make them fresh.
- Boundaries. Learn how to make them and enforce them. Schedule your song-writing time and stick with it.
- How do you know when a song is done? Lead it. It’s not a song until you’ve lead it. It is the ultimate test. The songs on your record need to be the ones your church will sing.