songwriting

Worship Songs: Inferior Songwriting?

CCM artist Shaun Groves on worship songwriting:

Songwriting is a craft. As in any craft – ice skating, painting, public speaking, cooking – there are best practices that border on being rules.

These standards sometimes define the craft. For instance, if an ice skater glides into the spotlight carrying a stick and hitting a puck she’s no longer ice skating but playing some form of hockey.

At other times these best practices determine what is “good” or “bad” craftsmanship. Painting without regard for composition, for example, may still be called “painting” but it is also likely to be called “bad” painting.

The university I visited last week asked me to teach a class on songwriting. They didn’t, however, tell me the students would be worship music majors. As I taught what little I know about the craft, the students kindly rebutted: “But what about when Chris Tomlin…”

The frontrunners in worship music do not adhere to most of the best practices that have long defined the songwriting craft. So is what they do even songwriting? Is it bad songwriting? Or is it a new thing altogether, defined by a set of best practices all its own?

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