Songwriting on Assignment

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 15, 2010

Not every song begins with an inspiration. Some are born out of a need. Your pastor needs a song to go with a particular message he’s going to preach, and you can’t find one. A publisher or an artist needs a song on a certain subject to fill a spot, or a program needs a theme song. Professional songwriters are often called on to write to order. This is where craftsmanship comes in. First, gather all the pertinent facts that need to go into the message, cluster them, pray and commit your way to the Lord, and let your God-given creativity take over. Even though the song didn’t start from an emotional experience, it can still be anointed. 

Some songs come quickly. Others take a long time. Bob Fitts wrote, “Blessed Be the Lord God Almighty” in five or ten minutes. Tim Hughes gestated, “Here I Am to Worship” for nine months before it was born. Chris Tomlin’s, “Forever” seemed to take forever—he worked on it on and on for four years. 

Chris says, “The gift God has given me is to write things that are simple and connect with people quickly.” Sometimes, writing simply takes a lot of skill, and a lot of time. Chris spent four years on, “Forever.” The verses came quickly, but the chorus just wouldn’t work right. He says, “I hoped someone else would come up with a chorus. Then one day in a recording studio, I was sitting there singing, ‘Forever God is faithful, forever God is …’ and I couldn’t come up with the next word. Then our bass player’s wife, Janet, stuck her head in the door and said, ‘strong.’ Just like that, it clicked.”And it clicked with the church, too. Chris says, “It still blows me away that people know it so well.” 

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