david santistevan


How to Write Better Worship Songs (Part 1)

Why is it that you love the songs that you do? What is it about them that is engaging? While this is rather a subjective question (different people like different songs), I think there are some tips to writing congregational worship songs that assist in their success (And by “success” I don’t necessarily mean songs that the global church is singing and make a lot of money. I’m referring to songs that really connect with a local congregation whether they are ‘discovered’ or not.)


  • Say something old in a fresh way – there’s nothing new under the sun. As worship songwriters we’re not trying to write about new ideologies and revelations. We are looking to shine a spotlight on the revealed truth of God in a way that connects with a modern listener.
  • Keep it singable – I understand your voice sounds great singing those high G’s and A’s but the average churchgoers eyes are popping out as they attempt to sing it. Keep it in a singable range and keep your phrasing  out of the ‘rap music’ category if you want people to sing along.
  • Avoid cliches and too much rhyming – Example: “God, we call on your name, and give you all the praise, and love all your ways, you never cease to amaze, God, take away this haze.” Yuck. Sometimes it sounds better not to rhyme or use half-rhymes.
  • Know your congregation – what is God doing in the midst of your people? What are they experiencing? What is your pastor preaching on? Write to that. You want to give voice to what is in their hearts.
  • Don’t depend on melodies and arrangement…until later. If you have a killer voice, great melody, impeccable arrangement, but an awful song, it’s not a success. Work on your lyrics so they express exactly what you want to say.
  • Write and rewrite and rewrite again…and again – Don’t fall for the “God gave me this song just as it is. I’m not changing it” speech. Don’t blame God for your lack of hard work. I like what Brian Doerksen says, “God doesn’t give songs…he gives seeds. It’s our responsibility to grow the seed.”

Allow me to leave you with a song that I love. I’ve posted this before but still love it. Matt beautifully articulates a great theme and takes you on a journey that culminates with a fantastic bridge. Beautiful lyrics, melody, and a consistent theme throughout. Notice this song is about one thing – God’s saving power. Get’s me every time.


October 29, 2010 - Posted by | Songwriting


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