Top 25 Hymns: 2023 Versus Ten Years Ago


Many of you were definitely eager to share your favorite hymns via social media. We had over 2,000 responses when I finally stopped counting the results. 

I took your responses and compared them to a similar list we compiled ten years ago. There are some differences between the two sets of rankings. The 2013 hymns were data we received from Lifeway Worship. A large number of them likely represent songs chosen by music leaders purchased for congregational use. The 2023 poll is broader since anyone could name their favorite hymns. 

By the way, there was a bit of a debate regarding the proper definition of a hymn. I am just reporting your responses. Here are your favorite hymns today and a decade ago:

Did your favorite hymns make either top 25 list? Are there any surprises on these lists? Let me hear from you.

Posted on July 31, 2023

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Do you think any of the top 25 favorites could be because they have a newly arranged version that use the hymn with new orchestration and a new bridge but pretty well uses the hymn as normal. I love that!

  • I wonder if your audience included the Gen X and Z demographic? My sense is thst many in that generation would struggle with that list, or any list. I hope I am wrong and there truly is a core of hymnology that is staying fresh for every generation.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Larry –

      As I indicated the the article, the 2013 rankings were based on sales, primarily to churches. The 2023 rankings were an informal poll. Neither of the rankings have the rigors of a scientific study, including accurate sampling. We, therefore, cannot know the demographics of the respondents, including age/generation.

  • All fine selections, no doubt. Unfortunately, neither of my favorites made the cut: “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place” and “I Love to Tell the Story”.

  • I’m surprised that I don’t see more contemporary songs. Were they allowed as choices?

  • Bill Jacobsen says on

    Very surprised “In the Garden” is not on either list. I sing hymns at nursing homes and it’s one of the top requested hymns.

  • Ann Sessions says on

    Most of these in both lists are Protestant hymns that have been around for a while. Most appear in both lists but changed positions. I too noticed that America The Beautiful did not appear in the 2023 list. I don’t know what that says. It might mean that people don’t sing patriotic hymns as much as they once did. Just a guess. Ann

  • John W Carlton says on

    I post a Hymn of the Day on my Facebook page daily. What may be a familiar Hymn for me, I find that others say that they’ve never heard it. The Hymns have so much theology in them while many of the P&W is fluff. Not all of either are strong theologically or just feel good. We can’t throw out the Hymnal.

  • I have a couple of questions about this list. 1. Are these the hymns that people like best or the songs that are sung most frequently in our churches? Because I notice a distinct lack of recent songs. 2. What do you make of “America the Beautiful” dropping off the list?

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Jeremy –

      1. The 2013 list is likely most sung in churches. The 2023 list represents most popular.

      2. I don’t know.

  • I’d love to see this information for different points in time. For example, every ten or twenty years going back several periods, and then every every 50 years going back somewhat farther. I believe church music has been used for teaching theology, for worship, for entertainment, and for “love songs to a guy”. I think I can guess the trend!

    Thanks for the research.


  • I found it fascinating that America the Beautiful was on the list. Ten years later, I wonder does this have to do with more political turmoil and tension. Though I’m a pastor, I spent much time participating in music ministry before that so I enjoy trends like this. My immediate thought on the 2013 list, and I definitely could be wrong, is the rise of the popularity of soverign grace music, the gettys, and others who reworked popular hymns or tagged these hymns to popular songs. Of course, the above-named music ministries were popular before 2013.

  • Alain Pierre Muzongo Mpungu says on

    Hello my Family !!
    Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
    Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

    I am happy to read you and to receive the long-awaited anointing yesterday in my life. And I receive my total healing, financial breakthrough, rest from all sides, while all the delays including lack of room to house, children, home, decent job, finances are broken in my life, so I receive divine favour, total health, vitality, longevity. I’m having a week of overflow and abundance in all areas of life.

    Thank you sincerely your

  • Robin G Jordan says on

    The structure and the metre, usually irregular, is what typically sets praise choruses and worship songs apart from hymns which tend to be strophic in form and to have regular metre. This said, there are hymns that are irregular in metre.

    What I found noteworthy about these two lists is that only one song of recent composition appears on them. Both lists are what I would expect to be favorite hymns in evangelical churches. We sung a number of them last night at a cluster rally I attended. In Catholic and mainline churches I would expect a different selection.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      Thanks, Robin. About 20% of our audience is mainline. We have very few Catholics in our audience.