When it comes to songwriting, if you’ve been to any workshops or seminars, the topic of accuracy in songwriting is a common one. I heard Tim Hughes say to make sure your lyrics make since. I’m somewhat of a critic when it comes to songs, and I definitely listen for accuracy in songs, especially if they’re pushed to a mass audience.
There’s a couple different aspects to accuracy in songwriting. The first is obvious. That’s Biblical accuracy. When we lead worship, we have to understand the lyrics and melodies that we teach are probably the most memorable aspects of church life. As worship leaders, we really have a much easier task than the speaker, because people love music. Music keeps people’s attention because of the natural dynamics that come with it. I definitely have a very high respect for speakers, especially pastors that speak week after week to a congregation. With that said, the songs that we teach can quickly become somewhat of a doctrine for people, especially those who are not avid Bible readers, which is, unfortunately, the majority of church-goers. Biblical accuracy in worship songs is absolutely crucial. They literally hold the danger of teaching false doctrine, and that’s a responsibility we as songwriters need to hold in high regard. We’re not perfect, and our doctrine is not perfect, but we can do our very best to strive for Biblical accuracy in our songwriting for the church.
The other aspect is not as important, but something to consider. That is grammatical accuracy. Do your lyrics make sense when it comes to grammar? In one of my English classes in Bible college, the teacher was trying to help the "good ol’ preacher boys" understand the importance of good grammar when delivering a sermon. He said, "Would you serve steak on fine china or a paper plate?" Good point. If we want to be excellent in our songwriting, then we can’t ignore grammar. It’s just one more measure in creating great art. One thing that I’ve done is pass my lyrics to an English teacher at a local high school here, and let her critique them. Now, the only exception I’ve found is poetry. Sometimes good grammar is sacrificed for poetic beauty, and I’ve found my peace when it comes to that exception.
At the end of the day, we are creating art, and sometimes you have to color outside the lines, but make sure you strive for Biblical accuracy, first and foremost, and do your best to have your lyrics make sense. If we’re lazy in being accurate, it can come back to bite us.