Happy New Year!
Worship Leader Magazine recently came out with a list of the top 20 Worship songs of 2013, which you can look at and listen to here.
It’s a list featuring most of the usual suspects – Hillsong, Worship Central, Elevation, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman – which is to be expected. Of course, ‘top’ in this context means the editors’ favourites, but I suspect that it does indeed reflect many of the most popular songs this year. Before I get to far into specifics, I should add that I think it’s a list of good songs. It’s really encouraging to see the way mainstream CCM worship music has become much more gospel- and Christ-focussed that it perhaps was in the past. I think we’re also seeing some genre variety within the mainstream as well.
I’m surprised not to see any of the Mars Hill Music bands on the list, however. Citizens brought out a terrific album full of catchy tunes, and Dustin Kensrue also brought out one of the best albums of the year, not to mention songs like ‘Mediator‘ from Ghost Ship or Glenn Packiam’s wonderful Mystery of Faith album. It’s also worth noting what a number of commenters have said, which is that many of these songs are not particularly congregational, while they might be great for a band to play, they don’t all lend themselves easily to singing together as a congregation.
Out of the list there’s a couple which I would consider (or am considering) doing in our context. There are certainly songs on the list which I like, and enjoy listening to, but these are the ones which I think would be most appropriate and helpful for us to sing:
Man of Sorrows:
This is arguably one of the best songs to come out of Hillsong (though ‘Beneath the waters, I will rise‘ from a couple of years back is still my favourite). This has a hymn-like inevitability to the melody, which I think should be fairly easy to pick up and sing together. The beautifully rich lyrics presents a wonderful picture of Jesus, the man of sorrows, and his death and resurrection, with the response of praise and honour to his name.
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
The Cross stands:
From Tim Hughes (who gave us ‘Here I am to worship’), this one talks about the finished work of Christ. The melody has a few tricky intervals, but it’s very catchy, and I imagine that once a congregation learns it, it will be pretty singable. It’s a standard chord progression that will be easy for most music teams to pull off.
Whom shall I fear (God of angel armies):
Chris Tomlin writes really singable tunes, which is why he’s the most sung songwriter in the world right now. I don’t know that this is as classic as ‘How great is our God’, but I reckon we’ll be singing it for a few years.
You hear me when I call, You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night, it cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear
You crush the enemy underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear
Your grace finds me:
Matt Redman has given the church a number of solid, singable songs over the years, and I think this is a worthy addition to that list. It’s catchy, and the lyrics have a nice poetry about them, exploring God’s grace in the midst of all of life. I love the chorus:
From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Praise the invisible:
This is a really fresh (somewhat southern), interesting setting from Daniel Bashta of lyrics which have a distinct nod to hymnody and confessions:
Praise the invisible
Praise the immortal One
Praise God incarnate
Praise Father Spirit Son
For He is God
For He is holy
For He holds the keys
To the grave
And forever He will reign
So that’s my pick from the list. Which are your favourites?
And which songs would I have had on that list?