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In-spiring

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Inspiration: n. “1. stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc., to special or unusual activity or creativity; 2. the state or quality of being so stimulated or aroused; 3. someone or something that causes this state; 4. an idea or action resulting from such a state; 5. the act or process of inhaling; breathing in” (from the World English Dictionary, which also includes these related words: brainchild, divine guidance, stirring, aspiration, breathing in).  The etymology of the word (from the Online Etymology Dictionary) is this:  “c.1300, ‘immediate influence of God or a god,’ especially that under which the holy books were written, from O.Fr. inspiration, from L.L. inspirationem (nom. inspiratio), from L. inspiratus, pp. of inspirare ‘inspire, inflame, blow into,’ from in-‘in’ + spirare ‘to breathe’ (see spirit).”

In contemplating blogging, I have mulled the longevity of such a venture. It shall be easy to use Who Me? to post articles and links, notes and quotes which I’ve hitherto posted to my Facebook page. On the other hand, a blog seems by its slightly more literary tenor to demand more personal input.  However, I’m a mom, wife, teacher, homemaker with barely time to craft a complete sentence, much less one that aspires to be winsome and wise, which a Christian blog must be, right?  Hence, whence the inspiration?

The definition of that word provides a good place to start… Who has breathed life into me?  God, the Giver of Life, of course.  So I will turn first to the Scripture studies we do in our home, both privately and as a family. Besides the Word itself, the best resource for in-depth personal Bible study I know is Search the Scriptures, by Alan M Stibbs, published by Intervarsity Press.  Additionally, Church fathers and Puritans, preachers and writers on the Doctrines of Grace, contemporary teachers have influenced me in the past, and if I am diligent and humble, perhaps they will again as the Lord provides in spira tion.

Hymns, psalms and spiritual songs might play a part in this, and I’ve already tagged The Valley of Vision as a model for writing with purpose and inspiration.

Okay, I’m already feeling uncomfortable with the wordiness of this post (boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve written freely and I’m struggling with clarity. Hah! Take that you writing students who think I don’t relate to your brain blockages! [MLA and grammar gaffes notwithstanding.]).  I end here with an excerpt from a piece by Fernando Ortega, originally posted at Rabbit Room, noted at Justin Taylor’s GC blog, regarding finding inspiration:

An Encouragement to Modern Hymn Writers

Posted By Justin Taylor On September 20, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

Fernando Ortega:

Let this be an encouragement to modern hymn writers—a cause for inspiration to those who are suffering from writer’s block. There are so many Biblical scenes to choose from that would make for beautiful songs: the transfiguration of Christ, the feeding of the five thousand, the woman at the well, the stoning of Stephen, water baptism, washing of the disciple’s feet, the betrayal of Judas. If just a few good modern hymn writers tackled some of these subjects, the anguish that untold thousands of music ministers suffer weekly could be greatly diminished.

It’s easy to write a chorus that says:

God, you are a Holy God
I need your grace to see me through
I need your mercy to make me new
Let me live each day for you.

I just made that up in two minutes and there’s nothing wrong with it. It might fit easily and competitively among the hundreds of worship songs that are available to choose from. But compare those lines to the third stanza from the above hymn:

Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

It took some real thought to craft those lines. They’re timeless. They set a standard for all of us who write music for the church. I didn’t set out to write a didactic piece. I’m reminding myself, too.

Be specific when you write songs about God.

Avoid cliché.

Avoid convenience.

Avoid an obsession with the consumer.

Avoid the temptation to make commercial success your central goal.

Write with intelligence, employing all the craft, skill, and experience with which God has endowed you.


Article printed from Justin Taylor: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor

URL to article: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/09/20/an-encouragement-to-modern-hymn-writers/

 

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Written by mrsdkmiller

September 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm

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