Classic Christian Song Names
Traditionally the names of Christian songs are influenced by words from the Bible. Great hymns such as, ‘Like a Shepherd’, ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘How Great Thou Art’ incorporate passages from Gospel in their original form and often align with readings from the lectionary.
Contemporary Christian music is different; with the myriad of abstract meaning type song names emerging, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t remember what they were or weren’t sure what they were about. Here’s a few tips for navigating the course of remembering and naming your own Christian songs.
Remembering the Names of Christian Songs
Do you ever struggle to remember the names of Christian songs? Maybe you’ve heard something you liked the sound of on Sunday or something came on the radio and you didn’t have time to listen to the title.
In this article I want to give you some tips to remember the names of Christian songs, how I, as a Christian musician assign the names of the Christian songs I write, and reflect on how some of the most popular Christian songs of this year got their names.
How to Remember the Names of Christian Songs
Traditionally, Christian Songs are broken up into verses, choruses, and bridges (sometimes there is a pre-chorus). It has become a popular trend of late to include multiple bridges in modern worship songs. To help you remember the names of Christian songs, I have three tips:
Tip 1 – Look for Repeated Words
Like any song, a popular Christian song will be crafted so that it engages the listener. This might occur through a catchy hook, interesting instrumentation, or memorable lyrics. In most cases, the chorus of a song will be the thing the artist wants the listener to catch onto.
This means they’ll often repeat a particular line to sum up the message they want to send through their art. For example, in the popular worship song Our God by Chris Tomlin, the chorus repeats: Our God is greater / our God is stronger / God you are higher than any other / Our God is healer / Awesome in power our God / our God.
Here, we see how repetition can effectively indicate the title of a song. There are songs which go against this trend and hide their title somewhere within the verse or bridge lyrics and by doing so, draw the reader’s attention to the thoughtfully crafted lyrics in the song. An example of one of these songs is Captain by Hillsong United.
Tip 2 – Remember Two or Three Lines
Whilst listening the first time through, it might be unclear as to what the name of the Christian song is. That’s why it can be helpful to memorize a particular line or phrase so you can head back later and search for the lyrics online. It is common for multiple Christian songs to have similar phrases and themes to other songs so be sure to memorize at least a couple.
Tip 3 – Have Shazam on Hand
There are a heap of apps out there today you can download that will recognize a song instantly and give you a link to listen to it on your favorite streaming service. A personal favorite is Shazam and is actually programmed into the popular app Snapchat as well. You can activate the feature by holding your finger down in the middle of your screen and the app will listen out for what song is playing.
How to Assign Names of Christian Songs as a Writer
You might be reading this not because you’re an avid listener, but because you’re actually interested in how to write great lyrics or come up with great names of Christian songs.
Well this paragraph is for you. As a songwriter, I’m constantly striving for creativity and innovation in my craft.
You can see this in the mainstream Christian scene as well with bands like Elevation Worship releasing projects labelled Paradoxology and Cory Asbury venturing into new spaces on his latest album. So as a writer I also have four helpful tips for you:
Tip 1 – Scripture, Scripture, Scripture
I know it sounds silly but there is so much creativity and innovation already within Scripture to describe the wonder and glory of God that you’d be silly not to start there! I would always recommend going with the Psalms but lately I’ve been diving into different books like Song of Songs and even Amos!
Get to know the Biblical writers because they were incredibly creative and crafted their scrolls with the utmost care. In Amos, we find this nugget of gold:
Do horses run on the rocky crags?
Does one plow the sea with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—
Tip 2 – Read Fiction
We are stepping into new territory here but being well-read is one of the best things for creative minds. If you can draw from literary masterpieces and incorporate intertextuality into your writing, you will be one step ahead of the crowd.
Bob Dylan famously does this and gets away with borrowing numerous bits of material from his contemporaries. Read poetry, dive into the depths of fiction, and discover a brand-new way of describing the wonders and glory of God.
Tip 3 – Pray and Journal
Have you ever been thinking of an amazing line or title when suddenly it slips away from your mind? It’s super helpful to have a journal on hand at all times to write down any bit of inspiration that comes, even if it’s just a thread.
Later on, when you come to write and work out your song, that thread might be exactly what you need for a masterpiece to unravel. The Beatles’ Yesterday was famously written because Paul McCartney heard it in a dream. Prayer can also be a gateway into creativity. Being in touch with God and you is integral to writing deep, profound work. Combine the both and keep a prayer journal, you never know what you might discover!
Tip 4 – Have Fun
If you’re not enjoying, you’re not creating. Modern hip hop erupted because Disco MC’s weren’t having fun anymore and needed a new way to express themself musically. Play around with what’s available to you, develop your own sound and your own vocabulary.
And if you’re still struggling to find that perfect hook, take a look at the names of Christian songs already out there. You might just find yourself some inspiration or at the very least, a starting point.
“Some songs hide their title somewhere within the verse or bridge lyrics and by doing so, draw the reader’s attention to the thoughtfully crafted lyrics in the song.”