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AI Engines ChatGPT and Bard Write Worship Songs

AI Engines ChatGPT and Bard Write Worship Songs

Joshua Swanson
AI ChatGPT Bard Writing Worship Songs

What does AI mean for the future of writing sung worship?

Artificial intelligence has arguably been around since the 1940s when the first digital computers were built, but in 2023 it “burst onto the scene” and into the cultural milieu. The reason is due to AI becoming effectively better at most single-language tasks than the average human. That caused use cases for those of us without a supercomputer to skyrocket and the world saw lightning-fast adoption of ChatGPT.

February 2nd, 2023: ChatGPT reaches 100 million users, making it the fastest-adopted product in human history (notably, the second fastest instance was TikTok, another AI-first product). Ryan Shannon [source]

How will this affect the poets of the church, AKA, the songwriters, that we serve? Songwriting continues to be a popular outlet for our church creatives due to the worldwide distribution of the final product, “worship music.” So, we asked a few of those songwriters their thoughts on this new AI phenomenon.

But before we review some of the responses, we did our our own research and simply asked this AI engine to write a worship song based on Psalms 139. This is what it “created:”

ChatGPT, write a Christian worship song based on Psalms 139

Verse 1

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me
You know when I sit and when I rise
You understand my thoughts from afar
You comprehend my path and my lying down

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord
Your hand will guide me always
I will not fear, for you are near
You are my Lord, my constant shield

Verse 2

You hem me in behind and before
Your love is everlasting, always more
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
Your works are great, I will praise your name

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord
Your hand will guide me always
I will not fear, for you are near
You are my Lord, my constant shield

Bridge

I trust in you, my Rock and my Redeemer
I will sing of your love and your faithfulness
Forever and ever, I will give you my praise

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord
Your hand will guide me always
I will not fear, for you are near
You are my Lord, my constant shield

Outro

You know me, Lord, inside and out
Your love endures, there’s no doubt
You are always with me, Lord
My constant shield and my reward.

We’ve already secured the publishing on this song….. We also asked Bard and you can find his/her (not sure of how Bard identifies) below.

What Do The Experts Think

We will continue to update this article as responses come in.

Adrian Thompson, Kingsway Music, Integrity Music, Bethel Music

There is no doubt AI is going to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future and as such will end up being a part of sung worship to one degree or another.
Like all technological advances, will it be good or bad for sung worship?

Apart from the uncertain legalities around copyright of AI-generated lyrics in music, the main concern I have is why would we want to use it? I get the convenience. I get the searching for more, but for me, as Matt Redman has said so often, “It is about revelation and response.”

  • IF our sung worship is about revelation and response, I am not sure how AI, a non-human, can reflect what has been revealed to us.
  • IF our sung worship is our response to the God we love, why would we want the mechanics of a computer’s thought over our raw passion and expression for our God?

God is the creator God. AI is a creation of some amazing minds, and if we use AI-generated lyrics to draw people to Him, then I guess for me Philippians 1:18 is the scripture I would turn to.

However, I believe that AI will not totally replace songs written from the heart as an expression to God. If companies endorse the use of AI, I guess that is where the industry will overtake heart. If worship music is an overflow of us giving thanks to the God we love, as we reflect on His creation, I believe songs written out of revelation and in response to Him, can only be generated by the human heart.

Will writers lean on AI for certain concepts or ideas, yes, but to have songs and liturgy, generated by AI for our sung worship, I believe is a dim reflection of a sacrifice of praise. We are called to place on the altar our first fruits and our sacrifices.

Michael Bahn, River Valley Church

This is a big topic that we need to blow wide open for worship songwriters. I’m surprised at how many worship songwriters are caught up in the novelty of using AI. For me, it comes back to, when we as creatives want to make a creative work, what or who do we seek first?

For example, if I’m asked to teach or preach, especially if it’s a sermon based on the Word of God, starting with the Holy Spirit and the scriptures is key. I don’t start with a personal story and anecdotes. After I’ve sought the Spirit and soaked in the Word, then I can go and access outside resources.

In the same way, we need to be careful with worship songwriting. If you’re going to create an original work that’s a tool to facilitate an encounter with the Almighty, then start with the Almighty and not with technology. Outside resources can be great. Songwriters use dictionaries and other tools, but none of these resources, including AI, have a soul or access to the Holy Spirit. AI is a big collection of data that can throw out cool things for us, but starting there is a major party foul for the worship songwriter.

In some ways, it takes away the tension, the waiting, and the anticipation that comes when we sit before the Lord. We sing, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Come fill this place and change the atmosphere.” But if we just start with AI we are coming at it in the natural and using a soulless machine as a jumping-off point. In some ways AI makes it “easier,” but it’s not as satisfying. AI is the ultimate shortcut.

Joy comes from personal growth while working life out in a relationship with the Lord.

James 1:2-4 (NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

That’s where good songwriting comes from.

Craig Dunnagan of 403 Music

The greatest songs don’t come from just knowing a craft, following the rules, or putting things in the right order. Following processes and a proven method will create good songs, maybe even great songs, technically. But what we need is more “God songs”. Songs where the ideas, inspiration, and labor of writing the song come from a deep place of connection with God; from testimonies and experiences in His presence.

Experiencing God’s manifest presence is, I believe, reserved for beings with a Spirit that came from God. That is something AI will likely never be able to recreate. Therefore, my opinion is that these new AI technologies may serve as a tool like a thesaurus or rhyming dictionary but at a much higher, informed, complex, and predictive level. But the best worship songs, speaking only in that context, come from a human Spirit and human emotions expressing praise and worship to the one who has eternal truth and reveals Himself in the creative process.

Justin Williams – Songwriter Upper Room and Various Country Artists

When I discovered ChatGBT, I had it write me the same song idea 10 times to see what it could come up with.  I was immediately tempted by the thought that I just discovered something that could give me an edge.  As soon as I thought that, it begged the question –

“Why am I writing to begin with?”
I was recently at an art show and was mesmerized by the paintings. I could not believe how detailed they were. Someone whispered in my ear, “You know they created them with AI, right?” My immediate thought was, “It’s not possible.  They’re so beautiful.”  I’ve known the artist for over 20 years. I walked up to him and said, “Man, first of all, your artwork is bananas.  Second of all, I didn’t even know you did art!” Their response: “Awe, thank you, man!”  I thought that was hilarious – they didn’t even want me to know they didn’t create it at all.
I think AI creates the illusion that you can be anything you want to be. Do you want to be a songwriter?  You can be. Do you want to be a painter?  You can be. But if you step back, the reality is, that you’re not.
Jackie Robinson didn’t become one of the greatest players in baseball history overnight.  He practiced for thousands of hours and lived during one of the most racially segregated times in history and still found a way to be great. Lance Armstrong was also one of the best cyclists of his time until he got cancer and had to figure out a way to stay on top. Is Lance remembered as one of the greatest cyclists in history today?  He’s not. He’s remembered for cheating and having his seven medals taken away.
I can’t speak for other songwriters’ motivation when it comes to writing, but when I’m older and staring at all the gold records on the wall and the Grammy’s resting on my old piano, I will have no reason to worry that there will be a knock at my door and somebody asking to take them back. I earned them and I’ll lay my head on my pillow with a grin and tell myself, “I’m a damn good songwriter.”

Bard’s Version of Our Christian Worship Song

Bard, write a Christian worship song based on Psalms 139.

Sure, here is a Christian worship song based on Psalm 139:

Verse 1

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up.
You know my thoughts even before I speak them.
You are familiar with all my ways.

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord.
You know me inside and out.
You love me unconditionally.
I am safe in your presence.

Verse 2

You see me when I am sleeping.
You watch over me when I am awake.
You know my every move.
There is no place I can go where you are not.

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord.
You know me inside and out.
You love me unconditionally.
I am safe in your presence.

Bridge

I am amazed by your knowledge of me.
It is beyond my comprehension.
But I am grateful that you know me so well.
It gives me comfort to know that I am never alone.

Chorus

You are always with me, Lord.
You know me inside and out.
You love me unconditionally.
I am safe in your presence.

Outro

I praise you, Lord, for your love and your presence.
I am grateful that I can always find you.
You are my refuge and my strength.
I will never be afraid.

As more responses come in, we’ll continue to write follow-up articles but you can also comment below with your own thoughts.

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  • I find it interesting that the same guy who cussed in his response found no need to mention God in his response. The entire response was self-centered. I wonder if that is indicative of all his “church’s” music? I hope not!

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