Writing Songs for Church: Q&A with Reuben and Ben

This is an excerpt from our songwriting masterclass at Hillsong Conference 2016 in Sydney. We interviewed a few of our key songwriters, including Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding, and wanted to share some of their thoughts with you. We hope you can join us at Conference next year!

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What’s the starting point for a song?

“I always ask myself: What is the key message of this song? And then bring everything into alignment with that.” – Ben Fielding

“I like to start with a thought or a title ideally, even if it’s just a couple lines of lyrics that I really love. That helps me to frame everything else around that one main idea.” – Ben Hastings

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Simplicity can seem “easy to write”… is this true?

“Often the simplest songs represent the most amount of work. It can take a lot of work to make something feel simple and flow well. Some songs come in an instant and others take longer.” – Reuben Morgan

Do churches have to write songs to be a worshipping church?

“I don’t think you should ever feel the pressure to write songs just because other churches are doing it too. If you can use the strength of other churches music then that’s fantastic!” – Hannah Hobbs

Do you ever write songs that are not for a congregational setting?

“For me, the pattern has been to write for the church. I need a lot of endurance to get a song over the line sometimes, but my passion for worship within the church is always enough to motivate me. Seeing people’s lives impacted pushes me to write for church specifically.” – Reuben Morgan

Tell us the story of the song ‘Grace to Grace‘.

“I showed a chord progression and a melody to Joel and he thought it was cool so we started crafting the song from there. As a songwriter you have to remember that your songs shape what people believe. We are responsible just as much for what we mean as we are responsible for what we think we mean. People are quite defined by their confession so as a songwriter I need to put the right words in people’s mouth.” – Chris Davenport

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How have you allowed your songwriting gift to change as the church’s sound has changed?

“You have to be willing to keep moving and growing yourself. I am constantly re-looking at the way I approach the craft as the church progresses. Invest into yourself, read, listen, go to concerts, and collaborate with new people and stay true to yourself.” – Reuben Morgan