Charles, you're totally right on #7!! A lot of worship songs that feel fast are not fast at all these days. When you sing along, you realize it doesn't feel half as fast as it sounds. As a result, it feels wrong or lacking when you sing along - which doesn't exactly encourage participation.
I am a novice songwriter and find these comments very helpful. One more to add to my original list:
5. When you think the song is done, share it with others who trust you enough to be able to give honest feedback. I find it very helpful to debut a song with our worship team as a pre-service song and get input on singability from those who are around. It also points out to me where my transcription doesn't match what I'm actually singing or playing!
Our worship is a response to what God is doing in our lives. Songwriting is often a musical expression of that response. You can never write too many songs. Even if most are lousy as far as making a "hit" or touching other people. As Jeremy Riddle has said before when he told God to give him words that would touch the hearts of His people, he felt God respond by telling Jeremy to write songs that touch God's heart and He'll take care of how it touches His people. In this context, every song is a "hit." God loves to hear our response to Him. So, even though it makes you super vulnerable, just be real and respond to the story God is writing in your life.
I think one of the most important things in worship songs is affection, now you might think affection is something you give a dog, in worship I think it is crucial. I bought a worship cd and not once on it is the phrase 'I love You', it never says anything about us loving God, though it does say that God loves us.
We must be careful not to be demanding, I recently heard a song that a woman was singing, practically everything she was saying was demanding of God.
Perhaps lyrics like, 'God, answer me now', or 'Reveal Yourself now' aren't the most humble, and maybe a little bit bossy. Many songs have that twist, and while it is good, we want God's answers, and we want Him to be revealed to us, we have to remember Who it is we are actually singing to. And I pray that my songs and what I sing to God will always be beautiful in His eyes. That my songs will echo along with my heart saying that God is awesome, far above me, and is to be feared and revered, to be worshiped and praised, by me, by all you, in a contrite and humble way. So it would be, 'God, please answer me', or 'Please reveal Yourself', 'but in Your time'. As Jesus said, "Not my will, but Yours be done."
Worship is to God, personally I dislike songs that talk about the sinner down the street. While we must keep those people in mind and in heart, these songs are hardly congregational and are not real worshipful songs, as they are not to God. Also songs that discuss our former sins, they are not worship songs. Though it must be kept in mind how God turned us around we must not dwell in the past or in our sins.
I hope that is digestable, I'll delve a little more and if I find anything I'll post it.
1: Make sure the theme of the song is consistent throughout. An easy way to check would be to try to summarise your song in one short sentence.
2: Is the song theologically correct? Check with theologically trained friends or your pastor and be willing to change the song as per their advice.
3: Write from the heart for an audience of One. God loves your songs, whether they are congregational or not. Some will be, some won't, but write them for Him.
4: If writing a congregational song, try to keep the range within an octave and a third as this will allow for all member sof the congregation to join in.
5: Remember that not everyone will like your songs.
6: Try to write a little everyday, even if it is only for 5 or ten minutes. Practice makes perfect as they say!
I'm sure I'll think of more, but I'll add them when they come to me!
Get distractions and other obstacles out of the way first. Meaning: do I have some unfinished business, unconfessed sin that is blocking me from true fellowship with the Father, Holy Spirit and Son? If so, it won't happen: plain and simple. Even the slightest items/incidents will detour you from your objective. Take care of first things first. As I've read, the rest will come and in waves.
Great topic, thanks. I'm enjoying each and every comment. Thanks to all!
I'm not sure I can add too much to this. Writing for worship should come from a heart that seeks God. Then remember that worship focuses on God and should be concise and the hook should always come back to adoring and worshiping God for some reason.
I'm not sure I can think of ten, but if I had to pick one, I would say:
Try to write worship songs on themes or passages of Scripture that haven't already been done to death.
I once did a CCLI title search on "Create In Me" (Psalm 51) and got 199 matches (which doesn't even count songs that are based on Psalm 51 but have a different title).
And while I'm sure we all agree that God is great and God is holy and God is awesome, we already seem to have dozens, if not hundreds, of worship songs that express those truths very well.
Surely there are other spiritual and biblical topics (and greater levels of detail) that can be explored...
1. KNOW your God. In your songwriting, "Let the love of Christ compel you".
2. Don't be afraid to be creative. One day, someone will write the "Bohemian Rhapsody" worship song. Crowder has come close.
3. Write always!!! Most of it will be dookey, but in the midst of our poo God may harvest something amazing
4. Have something to record your ideas. This does not have to be some new fangled recording software...an old tape recorder you can buy for five bucks at a thrift store will do.
5. Be a better musician!!! Practice your guitar more, buy a theory book, take some lessons. "Play skillfully before the Lord". Your songs will be better for it.
Next five to come later...gotta go.