Penny Ferguson Picture


By Penny L. Ferguson

   Some writers of gospel songs dabble, writing a song only when the mood or inspiration hits them. They may pen only a single song or a handful of them in a lifetime. Others are dedicated to the calling and are much more prolific. They might be attempting to build a catalogue of songs for their own use, writing gospel songs whenever they can carve out time from busy schedules, or they may work in the industry, Unfortunately, the dreaded writer’s block can happen to those in the second group. If you are writing gospel songs on a prolonged basis, there are times when the ideas and the inspiration just won’t come. What does a song writer do then? Below I

share some of the ideas I have found effective over the years.

   For me every gospel song writing session begins with prayer for the Lord’s inspiration and guidance. We all know the Lord is not obligated to answer our prayers exactly when and how we ask Him to do so. Sometimes He expects us to put in some elbow grease, even when writing a gospel song.
   When I sit down to write, if I don’t have an idea already buzzing around in my head, I reach for my idea books. I have written about these in earlier articles. I keep little spiral bound notebooks on my desk and in my purse at all times. Whenever an idea is given to me and I don’t have the time to write immediately, I jot it down in one of these for future use. In my fifteen years of gospel song writing I have filled seven. I select a book, pray over it and start thumbing through for an idea. I usually find one that piques my creative and spiritual interest and begin writing. Occasionally I combine several related ideas from the books.
   Sometimes, even with collected ideas from seven books at my disposal, the spark to write won’t ignite. If I find this to be the case, I go back to prayer. I examine myself, asking if there is anything in my Christian walk that would inhibit the flow of inspiration from the Lord. Is there anything I need confess and correct? If the Lord points anything out to me, I deal with it in prayer. Spiritual issues that need to be dealt with can be a hindrance to writing gospel songs.

   Reading my Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of being in the Lord’s Word daily for every Christian, including gospel song writers. I find when reading passages I have read dozens of times, suddenly the Lord will make a word, a phrase or a concept suddenly “pop” for me as if He is saying, “Here! Look at this again. I am trying to show you something.” This often happens during my morning devotional time and often results in songs. For example, one morning while reading Luke 15:10 (“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”), I was intrigued by the idea of the angels in heaven rejoicing every time a sinner repents. The Lord brought it closer to home by making me realize the night I kneeled in my dorm room and confessed my sins, asking Him to be my Savior, the angels had rejoiced for me. I jotted down a few lines and later wrote “Let the Angels Rejoice” the first verse for which is: “A hush falls over heaven and angels freeze / For below a lost soul is on their knees. / They hold their breath in rapt anticipation, / Knowing soon there will be a celebration.” (© 2014 Penny L. Ferguson)
   Another idea for combating writer’s block is to pick a theme such as salvation, repentance, sin, heaven, joy, etc. Go to a Bible concordance, look up the word and read verses which have that word in them. Often this will inspire the writing of a gospel song focused on that particular theme. The theme or subject does not have to be researched from a concordance. I consider themes I, nor others, have never touched on in gospel song writing, and asked myself, “What would God want me to say about this?”

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