Germanium sulfide and germanium selenide bulk crystals were prepared using a melt growth technique. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) was used to determine ionisation potentials of 5.74 and 5.48 eV for GeS and GeSe respectively. These values were used with the previously-measured band gaps to establish the natural band alignments with potential window layers for solar cells and to identify CdS and TiO2 as sensible choices. The ionisation potential of GeS is found to be smaller than in comparable materials. Using XPS and hard x-ray photoemission (HAXPES) measurements in conjunction with density-functional theory calculations, we demonstrate that stereochemically active Ge 4s lone pairs are present at the valence-band maxima. Our work thus provides direct evidence for active lone pairs in GeS and GeSe, with important implications for the applications of these and related materials, such as Ge-based perovskites.