Rhymes and Chimes

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 19, 2010

 There are two kinds of rhyme: 

• Perfect or pure rhyme 

• Imperfect or near rhyme 

One is not necessarily better than the other. Some writers prefer pure rhyme, others prefer near rhyme. Good writing can be a combination of both. 

For example, one of the most common concepts in all of Christianity is love. Yet love is one of the hardest words to rhyme, because there just aren’t that many pure rhymes for it. It leaves you only four options: above or dove, both mind-numbingly overworked in Christan music; glove or shove, (but how would you use either of them in a worship song?) That’s about it. You don’t want to make a rhyme sound trite or contrived. But there are lots of imperfect rhymes for love, like “another, enough, trust, us, run, cover, of, such, up” and many more. You won’t find those in rhyming dictionaries, but they sound pleasing to the ear. 

Imperfect rhymes can sound more informal and conversational. Let’s look at some rhyming devices Paul has used in “Revival Fire Fall” (See page 77): “Fall on us here with the power of your Spirit.” 

• Starting two or more words or syllables with the same sound is called alliteration:“Pour out from heaven your passion and presence.”(Three p’s in that line.) The next line, “Bring down your burning desire” has two b’s and two d’s. 

• There’s also a subtle inner rhyme in “bring” and “burning.” (Subtle in that one is accented, the other unaccented.) 

• Though not an end rhyme, “desire” rhymes with “fire” in the next line, and also chimes with the long i in the same line:“Father, let revival fire fall.” Alliteration here too—three f ’s. 

• The agreement of vowel sounds, as also in heaven/presence or “Your youth is renewed” is called assonance, or vowel rhyme. 

• The agreement of the closing consonants of two words with different vowels, as in “bright” and “sweet” is called consonance. 

• And when both the beginning and ending consonants match but the vowel is different, that’s called slant rhyme, as in sail/soul or love/leave. 

• Starting two or more syllables with different vowel sounds is also a form of alliteration, as in “Open the eyes of my heart.” 

These are all types of imperfect rhyme, or head rhyme. As Sheila Davis, author of “The Craft of Lyric Writing” and other great textbooks, would say,“they create phonic patterns.”They may not actually rhyme, but they make the words sing. Don’t think they’re necessarily a sign of laziness on the part of the lyricist. Some good writers spend lots of time purposely searching for imperfect rhymes to make their lyrics sound more natural and conversational. Some just do it instinctively, without giving it much thought, but the result is the same. 

Other writers prefer to use perfect rhymes whenever possible, resorting to imperfect ones only when all else fails. If you want your song to feel loftier, perfect rhyme may work better for you. Perfect rhyme does have another great advantage—it’s a memory device.  It helps us remember lyrics.  But don’t say something you didn’t really mean to say just to make a perfect rhyme. 

• Not every song has to rhyme, of course, especially when you’re writing scripture songs, or setting to music messages that are already familiar to listeners.  You may choose not to rhyme at all on the ends of lines, but you probably will use lots of assonance, consonance, alliteration, etc., within the lines, or your lyric may not sound like a lyric at all. 

(Verse 1) 

As we lift up Your name 

Let Your fire fall 

Send Your wind and Your rain 

On Your wings of love 

Pour out from heaven Your passion and presence 

Bring down Your burning desire 



Revival fire fall 

Revival fire fall 

Fall on us here with the power of Your Spirit 

Father let revival fire fall 

Revival fire fall 

Revival fire fall 

Let the flame consume us with hearts ablaze for Jesus 

Father let revival fire fall. 


(Verse 2) 

As we lift up Your name 

Let Your kingdom come 

Have Your way in this place 

Let Your will be done 

Pour out from heaven Your passion and presence 

Bring down Your burning desire 

(Repeat chorus)

(Revival Fire Fall, by Paul Baloche) 

 Rhyming Patterns 

You may choose to rhyme lines 1&2, 3&4 or lines 1&3, 2&4. You may try other variations, such as rhyming every line, or you might have three lines that rhyme and a fourth that doesn’t. This fourth line would be your hook line which may repeat at the end of each four-line set. 

• Try to put your stronger line last in any couplet, because your last line is the punch line and it needs to be the most memorable. 

• Maintain the same rhyme patterns in each verse if you can, to give it cohesion. But there are successful exceptions to this, too. 

• Rhyme the important words if possible. Rhyme gives emphasis, and you don’t want to waste it on trivial words. 


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