Poetry & Contemporary Worship

I’m doing an event in Cambridge, Ontario this weekend, and song selection is becoming increasingly difficult for me the past few years. Every worship songwriter experiences it — others songs are great and usable – but then we hit the wall.

There is the wonderful palette of rich, contemporary worship songs to draw from, and there is the aged palette of rich, traditional hymns to draw from. But I’m looking for something different – songs that I can authentically sing from my gut, in a way I love to sing to God.

Personally, I want to sing thick, poetic lyrics, capturing themes of love for God, the glory of God, the mystery of living in His presence, the essence of community, presented in a “now,” accessible, passionate way. Revisions of hymns into fresh renderings, such as the Passion Hymns CD represents, are life-giving. But I’m still questing for something more. I’m loving Redman’s, Tomlin’s, Doerksen’s, Crowder’s, Giglio’s and others work in this – it just feels like an cultural edge is before us and its time to deepen significantly – even as we seek to be accessible as worship songwriters.

In the moment, I feel as though we’re lost in the postmodern need for lyrical simplicity (glorious as simplicity is) in all our present music, or the Church has no grid for it.

Either I use straightforward, pop lyric poetry, or hymns, or inaccessible songs. I’m trying to bridge that gap in my own writing, and join the vanguard of those who are doing the same. I want to embed ancient prayers, creeds and stories in accessible worship songs. Can it be done? I’m trying. Who else is?

RELEASES Jan. 24, 2023 | Brazos press

Endless Grace helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation. It is the awaited companion volume to Sheltering Mercy (Ps. 1-75).

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 76-150, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

Pre-Order below, and join my email list, to get author notes and updates about the book and events around it. 

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