In search of the ten words that sum up the hundred - In Christ Alone

Posted by Stuart Townend on 31 March 2016

Stuart Townend spoke to WeAreWorship about one of the keys to successful songwriting

Whenever I’m writing songs I tend to write a lot of lyrics. It always seems to work this way. I’ll look at scriptures and write, almost getting into a stream of consciousness thing. That’s why there was a time when In Christ Alone was about twelve verses long.

Part of writing is working out what the song is about. It takes me some time to get to grips with what the song’s about. So you look for patterns. Then you begin to work out what the theme is, taking your time to narrow it all down.

When you know where you think the song is going you can then start compressing in order to make it count, to make it richer so that you're not filling it with things that don’t count. You make it richer by trimming out the things that don’t belong.

You don’t want to fill it with things that don’t really say anything. That’s why In Christ Alone went from twelve verses down to four.

I always think that you should be able to say in ten words or less what a song is about. In Christ Alone is about the difference that Christ’s life, death, resurrection makes to us all. That’s at the core of the song, that’s the journey that we hope that people will go on when they sing it.

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