A Surprising Twist, An Eye-Popping Metaphor…

Songwriting Tip: Push yourself to write creative lyrics.

Don’t settle for “You saved my soul and made me whole.”  Put a new suit on timeless truth.  Surprise us.  Turn our heads.  Pray, then lower your bucket deeper in the well.

I attempted to do this in “Emmanuel, Emmanuel”, on Sovereign Grace Music’s “Savior” CD.  Here’s part of verse 2:

We were blind and lost and godless
Wandering a trackless waste
Then hope arose, a glorious beacon
Like the star the wise men chased

“Wandering a trackless waste” (Ps 107:40 “he makes them wander in trackless wastes”) paints a more striking picture than “we were dry and empty.”  “Hope arose, a glorious beacon” outshines “you gave us hope.”  And “chased” sure beats “followed.”

Here’s part of verse 3:

You who with a word created
Sun and moon and seas and sand
Lay there sleeping in a manger
Cradled by Your mother’s hand

Much stronger than, “You are God who became a man.”

Check out this great song, “Completely Done” by By Jonathan and Ryan Baird and Rich Gunderlock. Creative lyrics convey the timeless truth of justification – and they don’t even say “justified.”

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

Chorus
The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

These lyrics are smoking they’re so fresh!  “I’m leaving my fears behind me now” – Why couldn’t I have thought of that?

Don’t be satisfied with your first draft.  Find a better word, a surprising twist, an eye-popping metaphor. We need you to write great lyrics!

You can get a free download of “Completely Done” here.

photo by dklimke

  • Mike

    Here's a youtube version just for kicks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwoqzVXwUjs

  • Mark Altrogge

    Thanks Mike!

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  • http://www.sounddoxology.blogspot.com Rich Tuttle

    I just went to a hymn seminar with Matthew Smith and where he basically said that this was one of the strengths of good hymns. Thanks Mark.

    here's my notes from the seminar…
    http://sounddoxology.blogspot.com/2010/09/matthew

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thanks Rich!

      And thanks for the link to the notes.

  • http://bjs-page.blogspot.com/ Brian (Bj) Forwood

    Mark this is fabulous thanks for the challenge – I would like to Guest it on mine but I guess I will just have to share it. A little ignorance goes a long way sometimes

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thanks Brian! You can Guest it on yours – I don't know exactly what that means…but I'm honored that you'd want to share it