Special Qualities of a Worship Song
Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 18, 2010
A good worship song shares the same qualities as any well written song, but it has certain speciﬁc characteristics not necessarily found in some of the others. A worship song is like a greeting card to the Lord from all of us. It speaks not just to us, but for us, providing a way to express ourselves to the Lord together. So a worship song, more than almost any other type of song, needs to express a universal sentiment, something we can all agree on as our own expression of love to Him.
Lord, let my songs ﬂow
out of a clean, pure,
them, I want
them to think,
what I would say
to God if I could
write a song to Him.”
Let me be the voice
of their hearts.
Lord we lift our faces to You
As the ﬂowers greet the dawn
Let Your glory shine upon us
Till the cares of earth are gone
As our hearts unfold before You
Like the petals in the rain
May the wonder of Your presence
Give us joy and strength again
(Flower Song, by Jimmy Owens)
Praise and Worship songs fall into three categories:
• Songs sung directly to the Lord (such as “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” “ I Love You Lord,” and “Open the Eyes of My Heart”)
• Songs about the Lord (“Awesome God,” ” Great is the Lord,” and “He is Exalted”)
• Exhortations to praise or worship the Lord (“Shout to the Lord,”
“Give Thanks” and “Majesty”)
The ﬁrst category is sometimes referred to as “vertical songs” and the latter two as “horizontal songs.”
There are certain deﬁnable qualities that make a song effective. So it stands to reason that a list of the 25 most used worship songs would be a good thing to study. Christian Copyright Licensing International publishes such a list, updating it regularly as churches report their use. We won’t print the current list here because it would quickly be out of date, but the list is always updated on CCLI.com. Look it up and analyze the songs. You can probably already sing at least the title lines of most of them. The list changes little from year to year, but songs shift positions and each time a few drop off and new ones appear. We want to help you recognize the qualities that make these songs successful, so you can compare your own worship songs to them and see how you can improve your writing. Log on to CCLI.com.
We analyzed the current CCLI Top 25 worship songs just before we went to print, and here’s what we noticed:
• Almost three quarters of these songs are addressed directly to the Lord.
• Almost all are in major keys.
• Most of them have a “built-in cry.”
A “built-in cry” is important in a worship song. Usually this happens when key words that express heartfelt worship, longing, or yearning occur on long tones, especially in the higher register, as if reaching out or upward. See how many you can ﬁnd in your favorite worship songs.
“As the Deer.”The ﬁrst three syllables of the chorus stretch out in long tones on the octave: You … a … lone .
“I Love You Lord”: to wor …ship …you …
“Breathe”(This is the air I breathe). This song has two cries, the title line with its high note on air, and the even more emotional cry on I in the ﬁrst two lines of the chorus.
“Shine Jesus Shine.”This cry is especially effective because the verse has been moving around with lots of short notes in the low range before suddenly leaping up to the high, open-sounding, long “Shine” on the chorus.
“Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.”The chorus is full of reaching-up words.
“He is Exalted” and “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” are other examples.
Other Posts Featuring Paul Baloche
- How To Thrive This Christmas - Webinar with Paul Baloche
- For Unto Us A Child Is Born (Open the Eyes of My Heart) Tutorial with Paul Baloche
- How To Play "Hark The Herald" by Paul Baloche
- How To Play "Your Name (Christmas Version)" by Paul Baloche
- How To Play "What Can I Do (Christmas Version)" by Paul Baloche
- How To Play "This Is Love (with Come Thou Long Expected Jesus)" by Paul Baloche
- How To Play "Prepare Him Room" by Paul Baloche
- How To Play "O Come Emmanuel" by Paul Baloche