Rough track to Home of Grace
As I have mentioned in a previous post, every song is a story. A story includes a plot, characters, a climax, as well as ending, A song has a similar structure. We’ve talked about how the first verse should invite the listener in. The end of the first verse builds to the chorus, which is a recurring theme, but not the climax. The second verse tells more of the story, and gives way to a bridge in most cases. Some songs do not contain a bridge. Bridges are the norm in popular music, especially those that receive airplay on the radio.
Today I’d like to talk about the verse structure, or pattern.
In the song “Home of Grace”, the first two lines of verse one are:
No one’s sure what’s in store as we journey, how our choices shape our future and our hearts.
The second verse’s first two lines mirror the same sentiment, but clarifies it further:
If you could see up ahead around the corner, you might fail to find the courage to be brave.
The first verse, part b:
And it could be you, and it could be me, who learns to build a home of grace.
The second verse, part b:
But He sees you, and He sees me, and wants to build a home of grace.
It is interesting to note that the first verse in a song introduces an idea, and the second verse reaffirms it.
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]The last line of a verse should always be a powerful segue to the chorus.[/clickandtweet] Ideally, both verses should end similarly, and sometimes with the “hook”.
In this case “home of grace”.
We can talk about the chorus tomorrow, or a later date, and discuss just what a home of grace is all about.
©Cindy Palin All Rights Reserved
It may be strange to talk about the melody before I pick apart the lyrics, but for me the melody is one of the most important elements of a song. Just as the Holy Spirit is power to our prayer, a melody is power to the song. A melody brings the song alive.
When I attended RDC’s music program, my favourite class was melody writing. I discovered I was born a writer, and the melodies have been sitting there waiting for me to pick like a daisy from a field, but the class helped me understand why the melodies were strong.
Select songwriters write their lyrics first and then write a melody to them. Others may write the lyrics and have someone else write a melody. A friend of mine, Bill Scarrott, writes incredible poetry. I have to say trying to write a melody to his words is difficult, and this is why. I have always written the melody and the words at the same time. I think this method is also proof that prayer is involved.
I want to continue to try and write melodies for other’s words, but for now I’ll talk about the melody in the “Home of Grace.”
When you take melody writing in school, you talk about the structure and then proceed to put your knowledge into practice. With me, I write first and then pick it apart, just for the sake of learning, and sharing this process with others.
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]For example; “Home of Grace” begins very conversationally, so the melody has got to be in a “conversation” range.[/clickandtweet] When people talk, their voices are not jumping all over the map, so large intervals for the story melody will not work.
Adoption is a very sacred topic. The conversational melody is gentle and rocks back and forth in a calming motion. I have included a picture to the right. Try and look just at the lyric melody line, and not the accompaniment.
In my opinion, a good song begins with an invitation. Keeping that in mind, use the same melody for at least two lines, before you build the next block. A verse is usually made up of four lines. The first two should invite, the second two should usher you to the chorus.
For example; the second line in “Home of Grace” is very similar to the first, with one or two differences to maintain interest, and build the story. Instead of starting on the very same note in the second line, the melody slightly higher. I also noted that the second line is a melodic answer to the first. Many times a question, and answer melody is great for verse format.
Before I bore you to tears, I would suggest you shape the melody of the last part of your verse as a precursor to the chorus. It is still conversational, but invites you further in and ends on a note which paves the way for the main event – the melody of the chorus. This is the melody that is going to stream through your head all day, for weeks, if you write a powerful one.
©Cindy Palin All Rights Reserved
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Every song has a story, this one was written for a family member who gave her son up for adoption.[/clickandtweet]
One of the most important elements for me when I write a song is prayer, especially when the song is about something very sacred. Adoption is, I am sure you would agree.
If I am writing a song for a specific person, I try to put myself in their shoes. I may not know all the details to a story, but as I walk in that person’s footsteps in my mind, I formulate questions like, “How did they feel when they found out they were having a baby?” “How will a new baby change their life?” “Do they feel alone or afraid?” In this case I am writing for someone who has adopted their child out. For those who have been adopted into a family, the questions may vary.
Home of Grace
No one’s sure what’s in store as we journey
How our choices shape the future and our hearts
And it could be you, and it could be me
Who learns to build a home of grace
There’s no better love than to give away
No better love than to take
From one mother’s heart to another’s arms
Together we build a home of grace
If you could see up ahead around the corner
You might fail to find the courage to be brave
But He sees you, and He sees me
and wants to build a home of grace
It’s a mystery this gift of life
Oh the wonder of a sacrifice
©Cindy Palin All Rights Reserved
“Keeping the Faith” is a song I penned back in 2002. It is unique and special for three reasons. First, it came to me through prayer. Secondly, I knew it meant for a specific couple, who were serving overseas at the time. Thirdly, it has become a song of inspiration for my new book entitled: The Faith Keeper. I like to sum this song story up as a picture of the body of Christ, and what we can accomplish together….
Sheet music is available and posted.
Hope you enjoy the lyrics,
You are the hands, and we made a choice
to carry our cross where ever we go
Keeping the Faith until we get home
We’ll whisper prayers the spirit brings
You’ll lift the hearts of the suffering
Together we’ll love the lost and alone
Keeping the faith until we get home
Keeping the Faith, fighting the fight
We’ll run the race into the night
And long down the road when our hearts break
We’ll finally know the Keeper of Faith
©Cindy Palin July 16, 2002