Have you ever thought about writing a song?
I had never given it much thought until my son and I were traveling to Tennessee to connect with family. It was a four-hour drive. My son wanted to listen to music, so we did for the entire trip. I marveled at the creative way singers and songwriters put together their words and music. They made me think about writing a song myself—not just any song, but a spiritual song of praise to God.
After the trip I spoke about writing spiritual songs with my wife. She reminded me of a passage in Psalms: “Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord . . . Sing a new song of praise to him” (Psalm 33:1-3 New Living Translation). I had never focused on this passage before. Not only did the psalmist say to sing a song, he said to sing a new song. Numerous times in Psalms we are admonished to sing a new song to the Lord.
Might that new song be your own creation?
And why would you sing a new song? Our relationship with God should never be static. We need to keep it fresh and current based on changing events in our lives. Just writing a new song of praise, let alone singing, might put most of us out of our comfort zone. It certainly did for me. Most of us probably have never written a song--any song before, whether religious or otherwise.
But if you did write a spiritual song today, what would you write?
By closely looking at what the psalmist David wrote, we find he often wrote about what was currently happening in his life, what was currently on his mind. This is exactly what many pop and country songwriters do today.
I noticed lyrics are often about what people go through in life, their ups and downs, their relationships--good ones and bad ones. Why would you write about what is happening currently in your life? You can write with more feeling and expression. Your song takes on more authenticity than it would if you were writing about someone else’s life. What have you rejoiced over in the past few days or weeks? Or what have you mourned about? These are things to write about.
A good place to start writing a spiritual song is by taking a close look at what King David wrote. Would anyone deny that writing psalms greatly improved his relationship with God? God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22). David’s psalms are written prayers, expressions of what was in his heart and mind. He often confessed his own personal weaknesses as he sought God’s mercy. On occasion he even bargained with God. David wrote with feeling, imagination--painting word pictures, all along praising God.
Our spiritual songs don’t have to be long. Have you ever noticed that one of the psalms only has two verses? Look at Psalm 117. Sometimes just a few words will define your situation perfectly. But then we also see another psalm is much longer. Psalm 119 is 176 verses. You might easily write a longer song because of distresses you go through in life, mixed with praise for God.
What else do you do in starting to write a spiritual song? You start with an inspirational idea. Give your song a title or select a theme and work from there. You could begin with merely a phrase or two. There are many ways to get going. You might have heard of songwriters penning lyrics on a napkin in a restaurant. Sometimes inspiration can come from traveling or reading a book. You might wake up with a new thought or two. Inspiration comes in many ways. Under a title I highly recommend writing down what inspired you to write your song in the first place. Sometimes at the beginning of certain Psalms you will notice a line about what motivated the writer to compose the psalm.
My niece inspired my first spiritual song when she sent me pictures of her flower and vegetable gardens in her backyard. That provided my motivation for writing a song of praise to God--the color, variety and beauty of His creation.
Songwriting can be complicated, so keep it simple. The most important aspect of your song will be the lyrics you choose to praise God. What we read in the Psalms are the words, not the music. In fact many people take the same psalm from the Bible and compose different music to express their feelings. Perhaps you don’t know how to play a musical instrument. Perhaps you don't like the sound of your voice. No worries. Do you know what the best instrument is for expressing a spiritual song? It is your heart. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . . singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Your thankful, humble heart is the best sounding instrument to God.
Do you want to find a way to draw closer to God? Do you want to praise God for wonders He has done in your life? Do you want to appreciate the book of Psalms more? Do you want to chronicle events in your life in song just as David did? Do you want to have more joy in your life? Write and sing (or hum) your own spiritual song, a new song of praise to the Lord.
You will be very glad you did!