My newest songwriting struggle…

So far, I’m feeling pretty good about “Forever Faithful.” I think it’s easy enough to learn…I think the melody comes off in a way that’s intuitive to most voices, which is good. So far, I’ve played it in three separate venues, and while it hasn’t gone gangbusters every time, I do think there’s been a decent response time – enough, at least, to warrant keeping the old thing around.

I’ve got some other songs I’d like to get out there, but there’s actually a new challenge that’s giving me trouble.

Scripture songs.

Let me start off by saying this – I’m horrible at remembering scripture. As much as I’d like to say that it’s because I’m getting older and memory is fading, that’s actually not the reason why. I’m horrible at remembering scripture because I’m horrible at reading scripture. Like really, gang…it’s a struggle. So, lately, I’ve been trying to work harder and taking scripture and making it a part of my life. One way I do that is by writing scripture songs.

Some of you may not remember scripture songs, but they used to be a big deal. They were prominent at the birth of “contemporary worship” somewhere in or around the Jesus movement and then they made a comeback in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Those later versions were actually very good. They showed up right when worship production quality was amping up and worship leaders who wrote songs were finally becoming common.

But we don’t hear those songs much any more. One label recently introduced a scripture song series that ended up being primarily rehashed versions of the 80’s/90’s songs. Good songs, but not exactly what I was looking for.

So, I’ve been trying my hand and writing stuff that’s right of scripture and that still functions as a song. Here are the problems I’m encountering. (Many of these will be obvious, but a few surprised me once I got going.)

  • RHYMING. Not a lot of scripture rhymes. Not a lot of scripture comes even close to a rhyme. I keep hoping that one day I’ll discover some miraculous formula with which to parse lines of scripture that would reveal complex rhymes and phrasing like some sort of Omega Code buried deep in scripture. (Wouldn’t that be just like God to prove once again He’s the best poet ever?) I probably won’t be the guy to find it, but I bet it’s in there somewhere.
  • TIMING. With my efforts so far, I’ve had to concoct odd breaks to make the songs work lyrically which makes the timing feel weird. I’m sure this will get better with practice, but boy is it frustrating.
  • EXTRA PHRASES. The one thing I can’t seem to figure out is what to do with lines like, “from me, Paul, a servant of Christ” or something like that. So far, I haven’t found a good way to include those in my new songwriting challenge.
  • BENEFIT. This will be the part where you get a glimpse of my songwriting philosophy. I believe that God’s called me to write songs to be sung in church. I love songs of all styles, but for me…my calling is songs for corporate singing. That calling, coupled with the fact that I’ve learned by now that I can never know what to expect with song creation forces me to always have the corporate element in mind. That doesn’t mean I’m envisioning hundreds or even thousands of people singing my song. It means that even as I write something that seems “private,” I find myself working hard to make sure that a crowd could pick it up.

Maybe someday soon I’ll finish one of these scripture songs and pass it your way. Until then, I’ll ask this:

  1. Do you think scripture songs are beneficial to the church?
  2. Do you think other folks are like me, needing help in building scripture into personal, daily life?


  1. Robert Conn

    I think they are a great way to increase the importance of Scripture to your church. For some reason God created most people drawn to music. Most people love it and can retain something set to rhyme and rhythm more than not. In terms of kids… it takes mine literally one hearing to know a song. When it's Scripture they're singing then man that's cool. Can't wait to hear.

  2. Liz

    You wrote "Forever Faithful"? The one we sang this morning & a couple weeks ago? It's an awesome song, Todd! I love it! I didn't realize you wrote it!

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