Sunday, 10 April 2011

Songwriter's block? Encountering Ephesians...

I'm kind of out of songwriting season at the moment - it's been a while since I finished anything anyway. We just moved house, we've got one 16 month old boy and another baby due in 4 weeks, time is short and I just don't have the space or energy to throw myself into it. On Mondays I get about an hour at lunchtime on my own to sit at a piano in Exeter Prison and be creative, but that's about it.

Last year was my most productive ever for songwriting. I think partly due to having a real focal point for it. As a church we've been studying Ephesians for the past year and Andy, Stu (pastors) and myself (creative director) decided at the start that I should be writing songs alongside it. It has been the most enjoyable experience of writing songs that I've ever had. Digging deep into Scripture and building what are pretty much sermons in song format has blessed both me and hopefully the congregation too. I feel that it has offered something so much more enriching and stable than writing thematically on attributes of God, letting the Word shape us rather than us shaping Word, and has encouraged a sense of momentum for our church.

What I really enjoyed about it though, and why I think it was so productive an exercise, is that it was more dependent on me burrowing in Scripture and pulling out what I found and putting it into poetry than on my songwriting ability. It pretty much got me out of the songwriter's block dilemma.

Trouble is, we've just about come to the end now. I've gone ahead of the preachers and written one or two for Ephesians 6 which we'll reach in a few weeks. (I think I got to chapter 6 quickly because I didn't quite know where to start a congregational song on complementarianism from Ephesians chapter 5 (although I guess I could base it around the Trinity?)).

My problems are as follows:
  1. I've so loved writing to this model that I'd now find it hard to write differently.
  2. If I did continue following this model then I'd have to wait for the church's next series to start writing again.
  3. The church's next series is Acts. Narrative. Uh-oh.

I see my options as being the following:
  1. Start my own little side project on something else by Paul.
  2. Write some more Ephesians songs.
  3. Stop being legalistic and write thematically. ;-)
  4. Tidy up those I've written and focus on recording them. (I got some really helpful and encouraging feedback from a very experienced hand the other day on improving the songs I've written).

To be honest, I think this is going to be a season for completing and finishing. I think I've got another two or three Ephesians songs left to be written, for which I've got tunes but no lyrics. It's going to be a case of ploughing the same passages again. After all, God can speak and highlight different things to us from the same passages time after time after time. Ephesians is so rich in truth I could spend years in here. There's adoption as sons, predestination, redemption, the forgiveness of sins and unification of all things under Christ as an eternal purpose in Eph 1:3-10 alone! Wow!

And then I wait for the test of writing songs around the truth found in the narrative of Acts.



  1. We get doctrine from narrative, so you can write on Acts! And we're in Luke for four weeks in May...

    In any case, loving your expository songwriting. There's enough Scripture for a lifetime.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Dave. :o)

  3. I've loved your Ephesians songs. They are great. Maybe we could translate them into French and Spanish for the church planters to take with them!

    Are your songs still available online? I can't seem to find your old website where we could listen to them

  4. Hey Cat,
    Thanks! I'm working on it. I'll see if I can set it up this week while I've got some time off before baby arrives. Got some new ones to record as well - which could be tricky considering Frontiers Central have still got my microphone stand. Partridge. Grrrrr.