Church ‘core rep’

Church ‘core rep’

In opera, there are number of works which are considered ‘core’ repertoire, which are the mainstay of any opera house – pieces that most of the audience is familiar with, and which a theatre can put on fairly smoothly. As singers, we also talk about our core repertoire- those roles which are the ‘bread & butter’ of our careers, which we’ve learnt and will pull out many times (usually they are the roles of the standard core repertory of most opera houses).

Simone recently posted a really great list of 24 songs & hymns that will form the core of her new church’s song repertoire. As we’re also building up a song repertoire (so far we have these and these), it’s a helpful exercise to write down which songs would be good to add to that core repertoire. One of the problems is that there are simply so many great songs out there to learn! It’s hard to learn newer songs when you also need to learn the ‘classics’, although I’m working on the assumption that there are a handful of songs which are so well known, that a majority of people (even in Germany) will know& be able to sing, songs such as:

  • Lord I lift your name on high (Founds)
  • How great is our God (Tomlin)
  • Here I am to worship (Hughes)
  • Blessed be your name (Redman)
  • Open the eyes of my heart (Baloche)


The challenge is for a service to consist mainly of songs which are known by most of the congregation, but which also fit the service, and are not being sung only because they are well known or popular. As we do not meet weekly, the process of learning new songs will take a bit longer (though singing them in our weekly small groups helps on this front). A further consideration is that for the majority of the congregation, English is not the mother-tongue, and within the group it might range from total fluency to basic understanding (but still better than German). This means that the complexity of lyrics needs consideration. While a Queensland church might be comfortable with a service full of rich modern hymns like ‘In Christ Alone’, a Middle-eastern asylum-seeker will be overwhelmed if all the songs are that lyrically rich*. So our song repertoire needs to find a balance of rich and also simple songs (‘Lord I lift your name on high’ is a good example of a ‘simple’ gospel song – kids songs are often more approachable in this way too), but always grounded in the gospel of Christ.

So far, I’ve managed to get my ‘newish songs to learn’ list (I may post it later) down to under 20, but there’s still the ‘songs that are probably well known’ on top of that..

What are the ‘core’ songs in your church’s repertoire?

*It took me well over a year to get to a point where listening to or conversing in German stopped being really mentally tiring.

3 responses to “Church ‘core rep’”

  1. Can I say anything produced by Sovereign Grace or Stuart and Townend? I actually keep an updated Spotify playlist of songs we sing at church, if you Spotify: . Lately we’ve taken to singing a song before the sermon that is a sort of prayer – songs like “Speak, O Lord” by Credo or “Show us Christ” by Sovereign Grace.

  2. […] wrote a few weeks back about choosing core song repertoire for congregational singing, and wrote that I might share my list… well, the music area leader at our church recently […]

What do you think?