On Saturday 19th October, I attended a day's course with the Association of Christian Writers under the heading Writing, Singing and Whole Life Worship. The speakers were Sam and Sara Hargreaves who are hymn writers amongst other things.
It was a fascinating day where we learnt how they write hymns and lead worship. They took a piece of scripture and invited us to engage with the text in the form of poetry, paraphrasing, being interactive, using it as a basis for prayer, and guided meditation. Those various disciplines started to unlock the scripture in interesting ways.
They went on to tell us the five stages they use when writing songs, which were:
One of the key ideas was to write hymns "into the gaps". Whereas there are many Harvest, Easter and Christmas hymns, there are not many on ecology, infant baptism, and God in everyday life. If you wished your hymns to be used, by writing "into the gaps" they were more likely to be sung at a service.
The final session of whole-life worship reminded us that God is not just for Sunday and the gathered church on a Sunday feeds us spiritually into the scattered church, where we work etc. Likewise, the scattered church should in turn feed into the gathered church where we worship together.
The most useful exercise for me, which I offer to you, involved writing the lyrics to a hymn to a well-known tune. I tried and found it liberating to not be constrained by some of the platitudes of Christianity but able to engage and wrestle with a God who sometimes seems far away. The very act of writing, not for public display necessarily, I found a useful way of communicating with God and it may be helpful for others as well, especially when God seems to be hiding Godself.
(Loosely) To the tune of I Vow to Thee My Country
Where o where is God, my saviour,
I really want to know.
I am hurting, really hurting,
Your coming is far too slow.
I want to love and believe
That you are the God I trust,
But with so many things going wrong,
My faith has turned to dust.
Yet, as I look around me,
Creation in full bloom,
A designer seems the answer,
Perhaps it's not all doom.
All I want from heaven
Is a wink or a slight nod,
To reaffirm my Saviour
Is my link between life and God
I know that my God loves me
and he's not far away,
Christ I'm sure is my salvation
Though I question every day
To be polished at some time as I only had ten minutes. My reason for printing is to show that anybody could have a go and it is quite a novel way to talk with God.
I came away having met talented writers and if you visited Sam and Sara's website (Engage Worship) I am sure you would find helpful resources for your own spiritual journey, not just to lead a service.
We are happy for you to use any material found here, however, please acknowledge the source: www.gantshillurc.co.uk
Rev'd Martin Wheadon