Many of us get put off the idea of music lyric writing because we can’t write music, even like me, if you enjoy singing. Sam and Sara Hargreaves, who led our Christian Writers day last Saturday were keen to encourage us to just have a go. We think of song lyrics and music being composed together these days, but that wasn’t always the case explained Sam. Examples of popular hymns like William Blake’s Jerusalem, certainly belie this myth.
Hymns and songs in the past would often be composed separately. A musician might take a poem he admired and set it to music.
Jerusalem was one of Blake’s prophetic poems to preface his epic poems ‘Milton: a poem in two books’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_did_those_feet_in_ancient_time So written as a poetry collection. Blake would probably be very surprised to hear it sung as a hymn all about being British, especially with those lines – “Dark Satanic Mills” More of a statement against the industrialisation of Britain rather than glorying in all that’s British!
Alternatively you can just use an old tune to set your words too but make sure the tune is out of copyright if you want to do this.
Song writing, like any writing has to be inspired. But like any writing, explained Sam, we isn’t just “spoken to us in a dream or sent directly from God’s email account.” (How to write worship songs by Joel Payne and Sam Hargreaves, Grove Books Ltd 2019). Although of course, from time to time it maybe!
I am very interested in writing music lyrics even though I haven’t managed yet but I do love singing and belong to a local weekly choir, so who knows? A website that can help you to compose songs can be found at www.jubilate.co.uk – songs and hymns for worship but there are other that aren’t spiritual too www.mysongcoach.com