Posted by Craig Borlase on 8 January 2016

Having written for academics, children, theologians and seemingly everyone else in between, it’s clear that CS Lewis knew a thing or two about choosing the right words.

Which makes us think that his 1956 letter back to a child who asked him for advice on becoming a better writer might still be of use to songwriters today. You can read his full reply here http://bit.ly/1NSeWpF, but the microwaved version is as follows:

1. Be clear
Do everything you can to stop us from missing the point. If you’re using a metaphor, make sure it fits perfectly. If you’re writing about doctrine, make sure you say everything you need to say. Don’t assume that we’re going to fill in the blanks.

2. Be simple
Plain words pack more punch than long, vague ones. Don’t try and impress us with your vocab or complex phrasing. It doesn’t mean that your ideas need to be simple or cliche.

3. Be real
You’re writing about a God who demonstrated with perfect clarity what it means to live a life of love. So get to the point and say what you want to say as directly as possible.

4. Be present
Write in a way that allows us to encounter for ourselves what it is you want to reveal. Don’t just tell us that we’re feeling grateful to God, give us the words and pictures we need to experience that gratitude for ourselves.

5. Be wise
Clichéd phrasings are all too common in worship songs. They might seem like handy shortcuts to talk about God, but too often they’ve become so familiar that they’ve lost too much of their meaning. Instead of writing that we are ‘saved by grace’ or ‘redeemed and restored’, have us sing words that call to mind how far we’ve come and how good God has been.

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