Month: August 2016

  • Blog
  • Learning to Write a Congregational Worship Song


    by Alarice 

    I used to think it was the hardest type of song to write.

    When I started to explore the realm of songwriting when I was 14 years old, my natural inclination was to express what was on my heart in the flow of my heart, & in any way that I wanted to. Learning to unleash my unique artistic sound was a necessary & exciting stage in my development as a songwriter. My songs were generally full of stories, life lessons & passions written with a pop/folk influence, & I loved how a song could release the ponderings of the heart into a tangible form that others could capture & make their own.

    As the Lord continued to raise me up in my calling in praise & worship, He deepened a desire for me to not just write songs for myself but to learn to tune into the desires of a PEOPLE & to give them a song to sing. As exciting as this new commission was, I was facing just one problem: I suddenly had a fear that I would not be able to fully express my view in a unique artistic manner anymore. I suddenly saw parameters, almost felt restricted & hindered by the boundaries of writing a worship song. Generally, there’s a few guiding points to follow when writing a congregational worship song that is different to when you’re writing for yourself:

    • Describe an unchanging biblical truth about God BUT
    • …in a way that’s unique so that your song isn’t exactly like thousands of other worship songs. It’s supposed to be fresh.)
    • Melodically easy to catch so it’s easy for a congregation to sing
    • Prophetic – you want to capture what God is saying NOW in this season

    The Lord had to do a work in me to remove the lens of seeing these pointers as restrictions. It was when I learnt to take ownership & believe in my call as a worship leader & songwriter that the mental blocks I saw as ‘artistic restrictions’ were completely smashed & torn down.  The Lord instead unveiled a deep well of unlimited revelations from the heart of the Father – all seeds to write powerful worship songs. I learnt that there were no ‘restrictions’ to writing worship songs when we are in fellowship with Him as He is the giver of all & unlimited songs!


    Two additional pointers I’ve learnt from my journey?

    • Good congregational worship songs are REVELATION-BASED. When writing worship songs, the most powerful ones are those that are written when the truth of God hits not only your head, but your heart! There is a difference between just a beautifully crafted song & a beautifully crafted AND Spirit-breathed song.
    • It is a joy & honour to SERVE people by writing songs for them to worship God with! The pointers serve to guide & help us to achieve that purpose.

    I pray this helps you in your worship songwriting journey!


  • Behind the Scenes
  • Jean Tan: Finding Inspiration as a Songwriter


    by Jean Tan

    Everything can be inspiration.

    I remember turning my head to see the world upside down as a kid; staring at my fingers & wondering how my invisible will could control their tiny movements.

    Today, I wonder at crazy movie plots, the interesting people I meet & the mind-boggling beauty of nature. Many things speak deeply about life & its fullness: its beauty, as well as its pain.

    Once I met a taxi uncle & spoke with him at length, starting with the usual questions of how long he’d driven for & what he thought about the country. Then we arrived at the topic of his family. He hardly saw or talked to his family, seemed evasive when I asked about his children, & through the rear view mirror I saw a deep longing & loneliness in his eyes. That spoke volumes to me about humanity – & how we, like this particular uncle, drift in search for connection despite the seeming busy-ness of everyday business —

    Circle round in a taxi
    In a one-man space of a one-man car

    (‘Taxi’, from the album Dance, 2010)

    pexels-photo-28477 (1)

    Then there was an insane time of my life when auto-immune kidney disease jolted me out of normalcy & confined me at home months at a go across a span of 5 years. At one point I was 20kg heavier with water, puked 5 times a day for a month, & was so bloated it would take 4-5 tries each time to draw blood or inject medications. My vision was blurry, & walking was difficult.  At that point, the only thing you could do to survive was to focus your mind on what was good & give thanks. I gave thanks for a bed to lie on, for being able to stand for 20 minutes, for being able to sing, even in gasps. For still having the ability to see colour, & all its splendid arrays —

    Even when it’s lonely,
    even when it hurts sometimes
    There is so much more to see
    The little things so beautiful

    (‘Colours’, written for the 28th SEA Games, 2015)

    I’m currently working on my third album, & in the collection are songs inspired by biblical text, poets, pictures of dandelions, & a song cover by Tommy Emmanuel. Anything can be inspiration when we open our eyes to the world & our ears to hear its whispers. Peel your eyes for inspiration & get ready to receive.

    Let to, let in
    Something is waiting
    And where my heart is beating
    I have love to keep me going

    (‘Walls’, to be released in 2017)

    Jean is a part-time songwriting mentor at Awaken Generation. She has released two full-length albums (Dance, 2010; Passage, 2012) with a third to be released in the following year. She is a great educator, worship leader & wonderful woman of faith who has inspired many with her story & simple love for Jesus.