A year and a half ago a friend of mine asked me this question and I have been thinking about it ever since. How does God partner with the composer and songwriter?
I’ve been writing music since I was a kid. In high school I had lots of black and white composition books chock full of lyrics. I was into heavy metal and I had rock-n-roll lyrics for everything. My writing had all the fine literary style of a high school student high on emotion and experiencing the world for the first time.
I don’t know what happened to those books. I think I may have thrown them away.
When I got to college I studied music composition as well as poetry composition, and in the 12 plus years I have worked in churches I have done quite a bit of arranging for everything from choir to rock band to orchestra. In the past five years I have once again started writing pop and rock worship songs in addition to writing classical music and poetry.
I have a real passion for setting the written word to music.
So how does God enter into the songwriting and composition process?
Idea 1: God enters into the songwriting process through his creative image in you and me.
God is creative; he created everything. He is the ultimate creative power. Part of the evidence that we are created in the likeness of God is the fact that we can create new things.
For the longest time I thought as Solomon did, that “there is nothing new under the sun.” This idea led me to a very defeatist line of thinking: “What’s the point? I’m replicating things that have already been.”
Solomon was wrong. He was depressed. If I met someone in that state of mind I would send him to a psychiatrist.
There are new things under the sun every day.
Not long ago I heard Erwin McManus of Mosaic say in relation to this passage of Scripture, “I am quite certain that the wheel was brand new at some point in time. In fact, I think Jesus walking on water and rising from the dead were pretty new.”
When we create something new we are demonstrating the image of our Creator God. Even someone who does not know Christ can be extremely creative and, without knowing it, express the image of God through what he or she creates.
God enters into the songwriting process by the fact that we are made like him: to create.
Idea 2: God enters the songwriting process through our minds and preferences.
When we begin to create something new there is always a nucleus of a thought, an idea that takes hold in your mind. When that idea takes hold in your mind and catches your attention like never before, you have just experienced a taste of God working through you.
God makes new things out of nothing. He spoke the world into existence out of a void. He spoke the sun, moon, stars, and all things into existence out of nothing. God breathed life into man; without God we could not draw a breath.
In the same way I believe that without God we could not think a single original thought. When we express a new idea or thought God is revealing himself through us as Creator God. He is using our preferences and abilities to give fresh expression to himself.
Partnering with God
We have been talking specifically about composing and songwriting, but, in reality, God partners with human beings in every single creative activity in exactly the same way. Sometimes we twist the pure ideas he places in our hearts, and other times we hear clearly and express his ideas well.
Before you begin the day, thank God for what he has done and ask him to guide your thoughts and ideas, actions and motives. During the day, when you begin a new project or a meeting, ask God to partner with you. Ask him to create something out of nothing through you.
How have you seen God partner with you creatively?