Where Do Songs Come From?
At some point all songwriters hear the dreaded question, “Where do your songs come from?” The reason this is a tough one for most of us is that, in as much as there are things we can do as songwriting practices, there is no guaranteed formula. Inspiration is not something you can process out. However, for me, it can be said that inspiration comes out of times and seasons. Solomon, in his book Ecclesiastes, accurately and beautifully articulates what we should expect to encounter in our limited days on this earth, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
A constant awareness of the season we are currently in, and the seasons that are impending, motivate me on a daily basis to write for the needs that exist and those
soon to arise. When the heart-cries of those around have become audible to my spirit, I am inspired to aid them in their joys and sorrows. As the Lord reveals His intentions, passion is stirred in me to sing His words over our broken world for its comfort, healing, and hope.
I take the responsibility of feeding God’s sheep very seriously. Everything I personally know about nourishing people (spiritually, mentally, and physically) has been taught to me through the crucible of parenting. A mom must stay a step or two ahead of all that happens in a given week. The Proverbs 31 woman who rises while it is yet night and prepares food for her household has been an example for me. I try to prepare words that will spiritually nourish the sheep for the upcoming seasons that God has in store.
Eyes on Him
I write out of what I know and what I “see” coming. For me songs are a mixture of what God has taught me by experiencing His ways in the daily mess of living, and what He is revealing for the season ahead.
I try to avoid writing out of yesterday like I try to avoid yesterday’s manna. Yesterday’s bread will not sustain tomorrow, and tomorrow will come. Fresh preparation takes more forethought and heart than serving leftovers. With that said, however, our experiences of God and His ways are immeasurably priceless and serve as a foundation for trust as we face the days to come. Therefore, I additionally write out of what I “own.” Personal experiences, uniquely mine, are my testimony that overcomes the enemy not just in my life, but in the lives of those around me.
For me, when inspiration hits, I borrow from yesterday’s experiences and a fresh revelation of God infuses it with life for today, then, with eyes filled with vision for the seasons of tomorrow, and a heart full of His love for His sheep, I write in order to feed.
Jennie Riddle is the author of many songs including the widely used “Revelation Song.” Her songs have been recorded by artists such as Phillips, Craig, and Dean, Kari Jobe, Gateway Church, Christ for the Nations, Meredith Andrews, Don Moen, and many others. Find out more at her website, jennieriddle.com