- PICTURE WORDS
Want to make your lyrics more vivid? Try using more colorful similes, metaphors and allegories. They create mental pictures to help enhance the message.
The difference between a simile and a metaphor is usually found in the word “like,” or “as.”
• “You are like a rose,” “She was as white as a sheet.” Those are similes.
• “You are a rose.” “He is a snake.” Those are metaphors.
The scriptures are full of similes and metaphors. The psalmists used them often.
Your word is like honey . . .
Like the wings of a dove . . .
Fly away like a bird . . .
The Lord is my rock . . .
Your word is a lamp to my feet . . .
You are my high tower . . .
Listen to the words and see the pictures: honey, wings, dove, bird, rock, lamp, high tower.
The images add to our perception of the concept.
Jesus used picture words constantly, such as “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16 NKJV).
King David gave us a fresh perspective on our relationship with God when he wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd” and then elaborated on his metaphor.
On our British Come Together tours, at a quiet moment of worship, we used to ask the congregation to call out names of Jesus. We would hear terms like “Bread of Life, Son of God, the Door, the Mighty God, the Rose of Sharon, the Lamb of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Sun of righteousness—risen with healing in his wings. . .” It was always a beautiful moment.
Lots of great song ideas have come from similes and metaphors: “Like a rock,” “Like a bridge over troubled water,” “You are my morning star.”
These examples from two of our songs show the use of metaphor:
There once stood a wall, deep and wide, strong and tall
There it stood, built of all our unholiness.
But this Man, by His blood, broke the wall, loosed the flood
Of the mercies of God to mankind.
(“He Died for Us” from Show Me!)
Their world is full of smiling heroes who will take them by the hand
And lead them to the serpent and defend them from the Lamb.
(“Where Have the Children Gone?” from Heal our Land)
An allegory is a story that uses symbolism. It seems to be about one thing but is really about another. One of the most popular examples of allegory in fiction is C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. The hero is a lion named Aslan who is really a symbol of Jesus. He demonstrates the redemptive work of Christ by dying in the place of a little boy who has broken the law. It’s fantasy with a punch.
See if that sparks any ideas.