Writing lyrics pushes our minds into a different form of thought than when we are trying to explain a text logically. Writing lyrics to a hymn-tune presses our thought into a metric (measured) pattern. Sometimes we discover things when we are “forced” into a pre-determined pattern.
Bible. Pen and Paper. Hymnal, if available.
Spend a moment in quiet prayer. If you wish, begin by freewriting for 3-5 minutes. Just let the pen empty out your concerns and thanksgiving for the day. Breathe.
Some example hymn-tunes to use: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” The Doxology, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Let Us Break Bread Together,” “Faith of Our Fathers” (!)
Use the same meter (beats per line) and rhyme structure of the hymn if you can. You do not need to maintain any of the original hymn-text’s words or emphases. You are writing a wholly new hymn-text, just using the hymn-tune.
The field is wide open here! If the text is a narrative, replay some or all of the narrative in your verse. If the text uses imagery or metaphors, build a verse around just those metaphors. You do not have to replicate the biblical text, simply use the text to trigger your mind into reflection.
Feel free to make big mistakes. Just play with it. Get it wrong. Get it right. Neither of those things matter. Play with the words, the images, the ideas. Press those words, images, ideas into the shape of the hymn-tune.
Take a moment to breathe and let the playtime settle around you. Carry your curiosity and insights and questions into the day.
Playdates with Scripture by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at virginiawiles.com.
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