Keeping it Simple is Vital in a Strong Worship Song

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 18, 2010

Simplicity is vital in a strong worship song: simple lyric concept, simple melodic concept, simple chords and repetition repetition repetition. simple, but not simplistic.  A study of the CCLI list shows us that these successful "people songs" are simple in harmony.  A worship song with complex harmony will probably not get established.  One reason is that Christian music publishers aren't interested in songs with many altered and extended chords that the average church band can't play.  Maybe you have a diploma from the Modern Jazz Institute and a complete command of modern harmony and improvisation.  Good!  Enjoy it!  It will help you to know how to create beautiful and moving but simple colors, unexpected chord changes, pretty inversions, color tones in the melody, alternate bass tones, and colorful tones and lines in the accompaniment and save the more complex harmony for other occasions.  Harmony doesn't have to be complex to be beautiful.  That artsy side of you can do some damage.  If you get too complicated you've eliminated about 70% of the churches out there that could be singing your song.

Jared Anderson: 

Worship songs have one common goal and that’s to help people worship. If people just think it’s a cool song and you can tell that they are more drawn to the music or to you than to Jesus, then pitch it to a rock star. Not all songs have to be worship songs. If you’ve written a worship song, make sure it’s defined by its results. 

Songs for the Common Man 

Mark Twain expressed the secret of his success this way: “My books are water. Those of the great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.” 

Sir Lew Grade, a major British film producer, said, “I have the blessing of average taste. If I like it, the common man will like it.” And the common man did, all over the world, as box office sales of his films proved. 

Remember, when you’re writing congregational songs, you’re writing songs to be sung together by average people, very few of whom have musical sophistication or training. If you’re a trained musician, you may have certain cultivated tastes, and it may be hard for you to lay some of them aside to create songs simple enough for untrained people to sing. 


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