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Yes, we gave a way a song just about a month ago, but we can't help it...WE'VE GOT NEW MUSIC FOR YOU!

One Wednesday in 2015, I was in my office waiting for a guitar lesson. I had about an hour between students, so I grabbed my guitar and went to Cyberhymnal. I'll admit...I was trolling for hymn ideas. I wanted to write something along the theme of water/baptism/etc and I found this Fanny Crosby song (co-written with George C. Stebbins) called Come To The Fountain. Here's what it says:

Come with thy sins to the fountain, come with thy burden of grief;
Bury them deep in its waters, there thou wilt find a relief.
Haste thee away, why wilt thou stay?
Risk not thy soul on a moment’s delay;
Jesus is waiting to save thee,
Mercy is pleading today.
Come as thou art to the fountain, Jesus is waiting for thee;
What though thy sins are like crimson, white as the snow they shall be.
Refrain
These are the words of the Savior, they who repent and believe,
They who are willing to trust Him, life at His hand shall receive.
Refrain
Come and be healed at the fountain, list to the peace speaking voice;
Over a sinner returning, now let the angels rejoice.

I didn't know the melody, but so many of those lines were so beautiful, I HAD to write this song. I immediately started playing this country, almost-bluegrass guitar groove and hit the G-G/A-G/B-C walkup while I was humming a melody. I loved the walkup from the very first time and that little guitar movement really set the tone of what I wanted to write - a hopeful, calling, almost "yearning" hymn.

I played it for a couple of friends and got some solid feedback on it, but kept it in a drawer for awhile. When I was getting ready to track songs this year, I decided to dust it off. I wanted to have it sound country without throwing a whole lot of country instrumentation on there. There's some slide guitar, but no fiddle or steel. I love those instruments, but really wanted to try and blend a country song with more modern worship elements.

You can download the song for free at www.toddwright.bandcamp.com or by clicking the CHARTS & MP3s button at the top of this page. If you'd like to purchase it, you can do so at the Bandcamp or over at iTunes.

NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING, PT. 2

Click here to get caught up.

So, you're a songwriter and you read the last post and now you're all fired up to write more songs. How do you do it? Like me, you probably have the best intentions about songwriting but struggle with the actual writing process.

Below are some tips that may help you find some time to work on songcraft. There are tons of online resources for songwriting and lots of songs yet to be written. Finding a way to make the time to chase those songs is worth it.

  1. WRITE SMALL. "Writing small" is helpful for the busy worship leader/songwriter. Songwriting doesn't have to be two hours long in the quiet of your chapel while you sip coffee and write in a Moleskine. If that's the only way you think you can do it, you're wrong. Got ten minutes in between meetings? Have a quiet night at home when the spouse is out or the kids go to sleep early? Carve out a little time to work on ideas. These breaks are creatively inspiring, but there also a little boost for your morale. You'll find way better after writing for 10-15 minutes.
  2. SET A TIMER. When you do have more time to dedicate to writing, give yourself an out. Set your timer for an hour and write solid for that hour. A popular screenwriter and author on Twitter often tweets "writer sprint" during the day to her followers. Her fans know that means they're supposed to write for one hour and then stop. And for songwriting, nobody says that you have to spend the hour on only one song. Work on a bridge idea, experiment with some riffs, read some old hymns or something. Just use the timer to keep you focused.
  3. CO-WRITE. I cannot say enough about this. Even though co-writing will almost always take longer to finish a song and is a lot harder logistically to make happen, the chemistry and excitement between two writers is addicting. Not every co-write is going to yield something awesome, but the time spent with another writer will be a big ol' dose of sunshine to your soul.

Don't give up! There are good songs inside of you! Any of you writers got other tips on how to carve out time to work on tunes?

NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING

I haven't seen Popstar (and don't have plans to, tbh.) But I can't help loving the tagline of this movie: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING.

From what I understand of the movie's premise, a tagline like that speaks to the hubris of the film's protagonist. It seems to sum up his pseudo-intelligence with equal parts bravado and immaturity. But it's also a great line for songwriters.

I realize not every worship leader who reads this is going to be a songwriter. But for those of you who write (or want to write) here's my advice...

NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING.

A songwriter writes songs. Lots of them. I'm often asked to co-write with other worship leaders or to even just talk the craft of songwriting and I'm constantly shocked at how many of them have only written three or four songs. If you're writing songs for your congregation to sing, you need to write a lot them. Here's why.

MOST OF THEM WON'T WORK. Writing a song is like any other craft. You're not going to be very good at it in the beginning. It takes time, which means that a lot of your songs won't work for your congregation. You're going to have to learn about melody writing and phrasing and congregational themes, and as you learn that, a lot of those songs are going to fail. People aren't going to storm out because of a bad song, but they probably won't sing a long. And if you're writing corporate worship songs, the singing-along is a big deal.

SEASONS CHANGE. Church life is seasonal. There are times of abundance and growth and success and then, seemingly out of the blue, those seasons will turn immediately into times of lack an struggle. If you want your songs to bless your church, you need a deep catalog to respond to the needs of your people. One of your few songs might be working now, but why not spend time crafting songs for other seasons in the life of your church?

YOU NEED A HIT. No, not a radio "hit." You need to write a lot of songs because you need to see what a miracle it can be when your congregation responds to something you've written. It's humbling and daunting, but it's also fantastic. If you're called to write, there are songs God wants to give you that He will use to convict and challenge and encourage. That may not be your experience yet, but you'll never find that unless you keep writing.

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In the next post, we'll talk about some practical ways to never stop never stopping songwriting. It's tough to carve out time for something as odd and elusive as songwriting, but it can be done. Come back in a couple days to find out how you can write MORE songs. (Cause writing MORE songs will most always lead to writing BETTER songs.)

WHAT I'M DIGGING...

I love worship music. It's, by far, the most played thing on my phone on any given day. I thought it would be fun to give you a list of all the tunes currently in my worship playlist with brief descriptions as to why I'm listening.

And, of course, I'd love to know what you're listening to and why. Comment below! If you're a Spotify user, you're welcome to follow my playlist to join me in listening to these tunes. For tracks that aren't on Spotify, I import them from my personal library and make them a part of an offline playlist, which means there may be a few songs you can't access as a "follower" of my playlist.

  1. High And Lifted Up (CCV Music) - I love this album from CCV and this tune in particular has a melody I just can't give up. Don't know that I'd lead this one, but I sure like it.
  2. I Surrender (CCV Music) - This song is amazing to me. Subtle the whole way through until the outro, compelling melody and a fresh take on surrender as a theme. Would love to lead this one.
  3. Sing It Over Me (Tommy Walker) - This is in the list for two reasons. First of all, it's a JAM! Secondly, we're adding this one to the catalog at Bethel soon, so I'm getting it into my head.
  4. I Have A Hope (Tommy Walker) - Same.
  5. Only You (Young Oceans) - I've liked this song for a long time and noticed a few weeks ago they had a new version featuring Evan Wickham. This one is slightly more conversational and the harmonies on it are beautiful.
  6. Start A Fire (Unspoken) - My dad has wanted me to lead this song for at least a year. I think it's too wordy to be a worship tune, but I think our band would kill it. I'm 50/50 on if this one is doable at church.
  7. One True God (Steven Curtis Chapman) - I got really into the SCC worship album when it came out, but kinda' forgot about it. Some friends have mine have been leading this one and I'm thinking of using it too. Singable chorus...and that drum fill!
  8. God OF Forever (Steven Curtis Chapman) - This one is giving One True God some competition. I think the verses are a little tougher for a crowd to sing, though.
  9. God Undefeatable (Ross King) - It's odd that I've never led this song as it's written by one of my good friends and has been a favorite worship song of mine for years. This one is in the list because it is most definitely gonna' show up at our church.
  10. Chain Breaker (Zach Williams) - I want to do this song BAD. It fits perfectly with the sort of Gospel blues vibe we've been trying at church. Wish the bridges was a bit longer - with maybe a guitar break!
  11. Lion And The Lamb (Leeland Mooring) - I have spoken many times about my discomfort doing songs from Bethel Redding. This one is on the playlist for pure personal enjoyment and blessing. For what it's worth, I suspect it's not that singable live, but I'm just guessing on that. I do like the song a whole lot.
  12. Jesus (Chris Tomlin) - I can't decide on this song. I really really like the chorus but the rest of it is soooooo Tomlin-y. Apart from the chorus, it seems too predictable. I'm not a huge fan of the song, but when I find something that's on the radio that I can pull off live, I gotta' give it a shot.
  13. Facing A Task Unfinished (Keith and Kristyn Getty) - This is actually the whole album, not just one song. I love the Gettys and I think they've created some amazing new stuff, especially the uptempo songs. Hymns are hard to pull off with a lot of energy, but the Gettys have become real pros. Plus there's a full on choir on the record, which makes it a studio album that sounds live and I love that. I've bailed on a few songs, but I'm still enjoying digging in.

Your turn...what are YOU listening to?