There’s nothing more tedious in media ministry than the weekly ritual of preparing song lyrics. Yet even this task normally given to newbie volunteers, interns, or the church monkey can become an important part of creative worship with a few simple rules.
1. Three to Four and You’ll Score. One or Six Don’t Mix.
Try to keep your song lyrics slides to three to four lines per screen. One or two lines, and you’ll turn the screen into a flipbook and create a guaranteed way for your congregation to miss half the words of the song while the operator has an ADD attack. Five, six or more and you’ll want to consider putting a number in the lower corner and designating someone to stand at the front and turn the screen over like a giant piece of paper, because that’s what you’re making it.
In the example below, the option on the left is clean and easy to visually process, but by splitting each verse of the hymn into five screens, it leaves a lot of room for error. And it’s kind of geriatric. The option on the right is safer in that regard, with the entire verse on one screen, but so much type is on one screen that it starts to look like hieroglyphics.
|Figure 1a||Figure 1b|
Three to four, or at most five, lines per screen is a happy medium between these two extremes. For this hymn:
|Figure 1c||Figure 1d|
2. Look After Widows and Orphans in Their Distress.
Betcha didn’t know there’s a rule for song lyrics in the Bible. It’s true. James 1:27 (NIV) says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” You may have thought this is a call to moral purity. No, it’s something much greater – don’t put a single word on a separate line when preparing song lyrics!
“Widows and orphans” is a phrase in design circles that refers to those words or short phrases that are left abandoned by their surrounding paragraphs. Look at these poor widows in the example below:
The better option is to cut the line at the phrase, which makes better sense from a design perspective, and musically too:
See, aren’t those happy little words now?