I am always fascinated to learn what is taking places in churches across America. As I was yet in another church this past weekend and listening to the music as we worshipped together, I became curious. What do churches typically sing during their worship services? I began to do a bit of research and found the CCLI list by month. Since CCLI is the largest licensor of church music, I would say that their list is very representative.
Here are the top 25 songs for the most recently reported month:
- How Great Is Our God
- Mighty to Save
- Our God
- Blessed Be Your Name
- Here I am To Worship
- Revelation Song
- Everlasting God
- Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
- Jesus Messiah
- In Christ Alone
- Your Grace Is Enough
- Open the Eyes of My Heart
- Forever Reign
- How He Loves
- You Are My King (Amazing Love)
- Holy Is the Lord
- From the Inside Out
- Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
- Shout to the Lord
- Come Now Is the Time to Worship
- The Stand
- Lord I Lift Your Name on High
- Glory to God Forever
Are there any surprises on this list? What do you think of the current popular worship songs?
Posted on October 22, 2012
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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Hi there, this may have been mentioned already. In our area of the country we only have maybe 3 churches that sing some more recent contemporary works. One that is a Cowboy style. They say this is what keeps the young folks. Maybe. I believe the Holy Spirit keeps who needs to be at your church at your church. The people and the fellowship. God’s love and forgiveness among the believers is one of the keys.
I would love to look out to our congregation and see anyone under 45! We have people of color and they are enjoying our style. Music is not the issue. Connections are the issue.
I love to work into our service sometimes a newer song. Not very often does it connect with our group like the older hymns.
Thanks for the look into the “top 25” That doesn’t represent those that use hymns from a hymnal. Their lists comes from folks who report what they get through their site and that would be most of the more recent contemporary songs.
Thank you for you and your husband’s caring heart to reach all people. May God bless you and your ministry. Might I also recommend to you Israel Houghton? His music is very cross-cultural, scriptural, and really enjoyed by many people of all ethnicities. I learned very much about this sort of thing when I was in school as a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I am so grateful for God’s ministry through IV and what He taught me about loving His Kingdom. I’ll be praying for your congregation.
In His Grip,
Three new songs that our Lead Worshipper, Phillip Hardy, has introduced in the past two months have really ministered to our church family at The Glade Church …
– Holy (Benton Brown)
– 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redmond)
– Yahweh (Chris Tomlin)
Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Sing to Yahweh, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonderful works among all peoples.
Psalm 96:1-3 HCSB
I am not surprised at all by what is sung in church. What surprises me is that some songs sung in church are not God-centered. They seem be more declaration songs that actual songs declaring the greatness of God. I love that some worship leaders are writing their own songs and their churches are singing which are songs you will not hear on Christian radio because they are not “feel good” songs, which most of those songs are on Christian radio which means they are popular and the church will know them.
if we take our que from Gods Word we will be sharing songs that bear witness and testimony to the so great redemption and salvation given by God the Father and accomplished by His Son Christ Jesus the Lord. We should be singing songs share the Gospel story to the lost and saved alike. The Word became flesh so the greatest statement God ever made was Jesus Christ and the greatest thing Jesus Christ brought about was His death and resurrection. Leaving us a command to go share that gospel to a lost and dying world. The Gospel story is what we should be sharing in our songs and testimonies and daily lives. God in the man revealing who and what He is to the world around him.. God the origin and source of all His activity in and thru the man He created to be His physical body on earth.
Considering the number of churches I have attended over the past ten years, I am not surprised. However, it saddens me. With a few exceptions, these are so called praise songs composed by “artists” rather than lyrics composed out of a deep devotion and theology. When did we begin to limit worship to singing? Why call the song leader the worship leader? My heart hungers to hear again “the Old Rugged Cross,” “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it.” and dozens of others. New hymns like “Christ Alone” are great and refreshing, but so many of those praise songs are silly and boring.
I agree with your sentiments, Jimmy. Although there are a few worshipful songs, among these contemporary compositions, the majority of them are very shallownd monotonous. There is not much Christ centered worship, no deep theology contained in them, as in the “old” hymns of the faith, such as “Come Thou Almighty King, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”, “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing”, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”, “O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing”, “O Worship The King”, and so many more theologically rich, worshipful. These hymns remind us of the great truths taught in Holy Scripture, and move us to worship our Great and Almighty God.
I would like to see a balanced mixture of both the old hymns, and contemporary, in our worship. I think the younger people would truly benefit from the wonderful theology, in these great hymns of the faith.
When we gather together, it is to bring worship to our glorious King. In so doing we, too, are blessed.
If I’m not mistaken, this CCLI list doesn’t include “public domain” hymns so in this sense it may not be representative.
hymn is the best ever
Ashley, You are right about reaching out to others who are different from us. My husband is the worship pastor at our church, and we find ourselves in a situation where the community surrounding the church now is not like it was 50 years ago. Now, it’s lower socio-economic, different ethnicities, and our older congregation struggles to see the need to reach them. The music we sing is diverse ( a little). We are doing some Brooklyn Tab (and wow, we thought we were something!) and some Thomas Road stuff from VA, (Liberty University) which has a diverse congregation, and sings songs less pop-sounding, and more worshipful.
But I still want more. Thanks for your insight. I too want a church that is diverse and inclusive for ALL God’s children, red and yellow, black and white.
I have only one test for a spirit filled gospel and that if it does not obey the following line in “Love Lifted Me”: “Love so mighty and so true merits my soul’s best songs;” then it is not worth singing and to my experience only one or two percent of songs written after l950 actually contain any of the “Holy Spirit” inspiration. I occasionally hand an old song to our minister of music and often he sings it the following Sunday. when such a song is sung I can feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in our little church. So far none of the new songs which are sung in this church(90% of all songs sung) evokes any presence or increased presence of the Holy Spirit when sung and I also notice that the congregation sings the old songs with gusto and with happiness; for the life of me I can not see why these new songs are sung. Ann Murray’s “You needed Me” is a pop song not even considered by most people to be a gospel song yet it is one of only a few modern songs which can bespeak a Holy Spirit involvement.
CCLI only tracks songs that are under copyright. I wish, for the sake of knowledge and statistics, they would track ALL songs including hymns, choral pieces composed in other centuries, etc. That would be a fascinating list to see.
To me this show how no matter what they may say that most “new church plants” are as traditional as any “older traditional churches.” The newer churches all sing the “same” songs over and over just like many of the older churches. Here would be a challenge, How many of the new church plants would even consider singing a “traditional hymn?” My guess not many and most would not even consider it, and yet many “traditional churches” do incorporate some “contemporary praise songs” in to their services. So who then is really more balanced in their worship styles. Both “sides of the worship wars” tend to look down on the other side.
I’m not surprised at all that a good chunk of this list are songs made popular by Chris Tomlin, the quintessential worship leader for white protestant evangelical America. Don’t get me wrong; Chris a great worship leader, but he is not the most creative guy out there. Maybe I’m still feeling a little jaded from him beating out Gungor at the Grammys this past February, but there are many, MANY more excellent worship leaders out there besides Chris and I’d love to see their songs brought to our places of worship. I recognized a few on here…John Mark McMillan (the original artist behind “How He Loves,” not David Crowder Band), Stuart Townend (author of “In Christ Alone,” and perhaps one of the few modern day hymn writers left in the world), and of course, Matt Redman. What surprises me here is that some of the older songs are still getting lots of “air play” for lack of a better term, “Open the Eyes of my Heart,” “Shout to the Lord,” etc.
One thing that I do find a bit troubling is this–all of these songs are very, very “white.” Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think any of these songs were written by people of color, nor are many of them sung in predominantly black churches. If we are to be a people who reach all nations, why are we not singing songs that would attract worshipers that don’t look like us? I come at this from the perspective of a white worship leader who desires to see a church filled with believers that don’t look like me, because God’s heart is for all his children to worship Him, not just those who look alike.
The age of a large number of the songs continues to tell me quite a bit about change, comfort zones, tradition, and deficits in creativity.
They are all “good” songs, but the lack of new material breaking into the top 25 troubles me.
Thanks for your great post.