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Interview on Hymns & Hymn Writing

I was recently interviewed by Daniel Threlfall, the Marketing Editor of Sharefaith.com. The interview focused mainly on ChurchWorksMedia.com and the hymn writing process. Here’s an excerpt:

Where do you get inspiration for your songs? How do the lyrics, melody, harmony, meter, and subject matter all come together?

Interestingly, I’ve actually written several songs to existing hymn tunes, then had them set to new tunes later. So “My Jesus, Fair” was written using the tune associated with “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” and “His Robes for Mine” was written using the tune associated with “Abide with Me.” That’s a great way for aspiring poets to start, by the way. It was correspondence with Bob Kauflin that convinced me to look for a unique tune for “His Robes for Mine.” And Greg nailed it, praise the Lord.

You can read the rest of the interview here.


5 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing! Yes, some of my first texts were written to tunes such as the old Irish tune that Steve Pettit uses for “Weep No More” and also for Bob Jones’s hymn “My Lord is Near”

  2. I think the most important point in there is rhyme+meter+truth does not neccesarily equal good hymnody.

    Interestingly, I would think that writing to an existing tune would push you in a less rather than more imaginative direction. At least that’s been my experience. Glad it hasn’t been yours.

  3. Thanks for chiming in.

    Re: writing to existing tunes:

    Hard to say. If the tune breaks away from a typical meter (e.g., I think it can be an asset to write to a familiar song. It can help get you thinking outside the box. So I’ll occasionally use a catchy but uncommon meter (like those I mentioned) to force myself into something new.

    That said, it still helps to have an original tune. And the tune can aid the text–they both give a little between draft and final product. For example, when Greg wrote MJF, he repeated the last line. So I decided to add a line, slightly altering “abhorring all my sin.” Never would have if he hadn’t done that.

    The writing process is interesting, to be sure. At least to those of us who do it. All others, please indulge us. :)

  4. And as for writing while driving, it often helps to be able to record lines onto an mp3 player or something. I’ve done that a lot. Ideas come in the weirdest places. :)

  5. There’s a story about a time when Ron & Shelly Hamilton got up in front of a church to sing and Mr. Hamilton completely forgot the lyrics to his own song… When I first heard that story, I thought it was really funny. But now… In my previous comment on this post I substituted the title of my song with the title of Bob Jone’s song on accident. Dr. Jones’s song is entitled “While He is Near”

    Mr. Anderson, have you ever gone to sing one of your own songs and forgotten the words? I know I have! Oh, and for some reason every time I get to the last line of MJF I have to pay very close attention or I’ll find myself automatically singing “Adoring all my sin, Abhoring only H–” And then I catch myself. Yikes!

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