5 Reasons Why Lyrics are NOT More Important Than Melody When It Comes To Writing Worship Songs
Two days ago I saw a blog post espousing the importance of lyrics over melody when in worship songs.
I’m certain I don’t agree.
The process I follow when writing worship songs that are congregationally engaging also disagrees. (Download that tried and tested Worship Song Roadmap here.)
Don’t get me wrong, of course lyrics are massively important when it comes to writing a worship song, but are they more important?
Here are my 5 top reasons as to why Lyrics are NOT more important than music:
1. Music opens the heart to receive the truth written in the lyrics.
If the music does not move you then the lyrics will not affect you. It doesn’t matter how great the lyrics are, if the music does not carry it into your heart, it is like trying to plant a seed without first making a hole in which to put it. The truth in your lyrics will not take root and nothing will grow.
2. Congregational songs with poor melodies do not get sung.
If your song is too hard to sing, or the melody is boring, complicated or lacks an enjoyable tune, no one will sing it. No one will listen to it. Your lyrics then have no vehicle and will not be seen or heard by anyone.
3. Lyrics and melody must support each other.
I can’t stress the importance of ensuring that your lyrics and your melody work together. A sorrowful melody with lyrics of joy is a juxtaposition that simply doesn’t work. The message of the lyrics must not jar with the tune of the melody. And vice versa.
4. Lyrics need to fit the tune.
When people bring songs for me to assess and work on, one of the first things I look for is that the melodic emphasis is on the right part of the lyric. A song with strong emphasis on words like “The”, “A”, “And” and “Or” needs some work. This means that we have to decide which is better, the melody or the lyrics. One has to change for the other to fit.
5. Melody and Lyrics should give way to each other.
What I mean by this is that, when it comes to writing worship songs, we are serving the congregation. Complex lyrical imagery, married to a complex tune will overload the worshipers capacity to engage with the song. However, marrying simple lyrics to a complex tune, or complex lyrics to a simple tune, will often result in an imaginative, creative and, perhaps most importantly, engaging song.
So, are Lyrics more important than the Melody?
No. But equally, they are not less important.
A great worship song always has a great, singable tune and interesting, engaging, truth-filled lyrics.
They go together, as Whoopi Goldberg sang in Sister Act, “like birds of a feather”.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this debate.
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P.S. If you are a worship songwriter, and you would like a tried and tested method to take your song from original idea right through to being used in church, do check out this proven roadmap.