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?

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