I’ve been writing secular lyrics for a long time; but lately, as my faith has gone into high gear, the Holy Spirit has been calling me to write praise lyrics. And I’ve been picking up on little phrases here or there that have sparked ideas for themes to write about. For instance, our guest preacher this summer, Jordan Thomas, mentioned in his sermon something about God’s love for us being like a river. That same night, we had a big storm and the power went out. I had nothing to do, so I sat down and wrote a song called Living Water:

A hazy summer mist, Can cool a thirsty glade

More so, to me does Christ , Than any grassy blade

As rain flows down the mount, And streams into the sea

His living water flows, And sets my spirit free

A rushing forest brook, Can polish any stone

So did that blood He shed, For all my sins atone

There’s water in that well, O kind Samaritan

But if you drink from His, You’ll never thirst again

Someone has said that the Bible is God talking to man - except for the Psalms, which is man talking to God. I’ve noticed that in most hymns and praise songs, God is grammatically in the second person; in other words, man is the speaker and God is the addressee. Sometimes God can be in the third person (the one being talked about). But I’m finding it more satisfying to address God directly. It’s like praying.

One way to structure the verses is to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Another way is to tie the verses together with a common theme. For the theme of the Living Water song, I focused on the ways in which God provides us with water in nature, in verses one through three. Then for the final verse I brought home the main point - Christ’s living water is all we need.

I have technical preferences regarding perfect rhymes, and matching syllables and cadences; but rather than going into all that, I’ll leave you with a word about inspiration. I think it’s a mistake to wait for inspiration before you write. Think of the professional songwriters of yesteryear at Tin Pan Alley and The Brill Building, who wrote hundreds of standards. They showed up at the office every morning, made a pot of coffee, rolled up their sleeves, and started writing. They couldn’t afford to wait for inspiration!

Most of what they wrote probably never got published, but some did, and some occasionally paid off. I’ve found that the best way to get inspired is simply to grab a theme and write it down, and go from there. The main thing is - don’t wait for a bolt of lightning. Just get started. Write!