Writing Contemporary Worship Music: A Webinar


You’ve got a problem.  You feel the Lord calling you to a career as a chart-topping, face-shredding rock star, but you feel guilty about the sex, drugs, and sex that inevitably accompany super stardom.  Your solution?  Become a worship leader!  Get the groupies, the Facebook fanpages, and the all-you-can-drink booze buffets you’ve always wanted while keeping your conscience squeaky clean!

Now, before you run off to Colorado Springs and start a band, I should tell you, it takes more than non-threatening good looks and a severely inflated ego to become the mouthpiece of the church.  You need a catchy ditty that people of all ages will relate to without fully understanding.  Sounds daunting right?  Wrong.  Thanks to advances in modern science, we’ve simplified effective worship song writing into a single, can’t miss formula.  Just follow the template below and people will be saying “Dave Crowder who?” by this time next month.

First you want to state who your song is addressed to.


To avoid confusion, you will then want to distinguish this Jesus from the one who mows your lawn.

Sovereign Lord of all creation.

Perfect.  Next, let everyone know how cool you think Jesus is with a disjointed list of laudatory adjectives.

Holy, Incredible, Awesome, Invincible, Phantasmagorical!

Having established the high regard you have for the second member of the Trinity, you will next want to describe the extravagant lengths you go to to demonstrate your love.

Falling before you / forever adore you / always want more of you / doing my chores for you / making some s’mores for you.

Then comes the pre-chorus.  This is an integral part of your song wherein you ratchet up the emotional fervor until it reaches critical mass just as the chorus begins.  Use this time to describe the many-faceted complexity of your relationship with the Savior.

I love you / you love me / we’re best friends as friends as can be (repeat 4x).

By the fourth repetition, the instrumental accompaniment should have reached a crescendo loud enough to drown out the vocalists, though they are now shouting at the top of their lungs.  In this frenzied state you will transition into the chorus.

Regardless of your song’s message, the chorus should always follow the same format: repeated shouts of adoration intermingled with requests that those in attendance join you in singing.  If you have trouble coming up with the right words, feel free to borrow liberally from other musicians.

Jesus, you’re so hiiiiiigh, high above me / you’re so lovely! / Sing it with me! / You’re so hiiiiigh, high above me / you’re so lovely.

After the chorus, the assembled worshippers will likely need a breather and a sweat rag.  Those who have been slain in the spirit will probably need medical attention.  As the puppet master of this whole scene, it is considered good form to bring things down a notch for the second verse.

In the interest of time and efficiency, feel free to copy and paste the lyrics from the first verse into the second one.  If you feel you must, it is acceptable to modify the list of adjectives from line three.  While some consider this to be extravagant and needlessly showy, it is a great way to keep your disciples on their toes.

Insurmountable, indestructible, unassailable, super-fantastical!

The second verse is, of course, followed again by the pre-chorus and the chorus.

After the second chorus, you will want to give the hand raisers and ribbon dancers a brief respite before the home stretch.  A “bridge” is a popular way to do this without letting their heart rates or endorphins return to normal levels.  The bridge is an important interlude, often accompanied by a key change, which serves to connect the second chorus to the third without subjecting the performer to the artistic degradation of a third verse.

Again, feel free to borrow lyrics from chick flicks, romance novels, or Seventeen Magazine.

You are the one, the only one for me. / Together forever, with you I’m free. / Nobody else makes me feel like you do. / Together forever, too good to be true.

Following the bridge, the chorus should be repeated 12-15 times.  Apply fog machines and laser lights as needed, and close the whole thing out with some sort of explosion and/or stage dive.

And there you have it.   Get some hair gel, buy a few graphic T’s, master the G-C-D chord progression, and prepare yourself for your new life as the second incarnation of worship-rock god, Chris Tomlin.

See you at Passion 2010.

, , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply