Every once in a while I’m asked by pastors and/or worship leaders at smaller and/or more traditional churches what new songs would work for their congregations. Apart from a hymnal, and maybe (just maybe) some songs from the late 70’s, their repertoire has pretty much remained stagnant.
I’m going to be gracious in my definition of “new” and include (except for one) songs from the last fifteen years that, for most congregations, should probably be added to the repertoire.
These songs might seem old to you. If so, this post isn’t for you. This is for the churches who have never sung these. Here are some suggestions.
In Christ Alone
Written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, © 2001 Thankyou Music.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Written by Stuart Townend, © 1995 Thankyou Music.
Written by Stuart Townend, © 1998 Thankyou Music.
The Power of the Cross
Written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, © 2005 Thankyou Music.
Blessed Be Your Name
Written by Matt and Beth Redman, © 2002 Thankyou Music.
Holy is the Lord
Written by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio, © 2003 worshiptogether.com songs.
How Great is Our God
Written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves, © 2004 worshiptogether.com songs.
Here I am to Worship
Written by Tim Hughes, © 2000 Thankyou Music.
Before the Throne of God Above
Written by Charitie Lees Bancroft in 1863 (Public Domain), music by Vikki Cook © 1997 Sovereign Grace Music.
Shout to the Lord
Written by Darlene Zschech, © 1993 Hillsong Publishing.
iTunes (VeggieTales version)
Please add any you think I’m missing!
10 thoughts on “Ten New-ish Songs Every Church Should Know By Now”
Good list Jamie, but why the veggie tales version?
Gotta confess I have issues with edible worship leaders.
Hey Matt. I posted the link to the VeggieTales version because I found it pretty amusing. Having read your post, though, I may have to link to the Randy Travis version. Or Sandy Patty. Or Carman. The options are plentiful.
Interesting. When I heard the Veggie Tales version my first thought was wondering who would want to listen to that. But I quickly remembered that Veggie Tales is kids music and kids might enjoy hearing familiar (if off-key) voices sing worship music. I agree that the commercialization of worship music is a bit ridiculous and leads to some bad things, probably including this, but I wouldn’t have thought of the tone as mocking. Just marketing worship music (keeps parents happy) to kids. I’m pretty sure my daughter would love to hear Elmo sing ‘Jesus loves me’ because, to her, Elmo is like a friend. She’s too young to understand that he’s not real so Jesus doesn’t actually love him. 🙂
Randy Travis? Carman?
I withdraw my comment. Veggies it is?
@Catherine – what do you mean Jesus DOESN’T love Elmo?! *Sobs*
What about contemporary versions of hymns with an added chorus, like “The Wonderful Cross” (When I Survey) and “My Chains Are Gone” (Amazing Grace)? As a substitute pianist for many different churches, I am consistently amazed at the number of older traditional congregations that don’t know what we would consider standard old hymns, such as “Come Thou Fount,” “It Is Well,” or “Be Thou My Vision.” In addition to new songs, churches might also do well to check out what’s already in their hymnals that they never sing.
Great suggestions and points, Rebekah!
@Rebekah – Have you ever had the experience though of trad churches HATING new versions of old hymns because they are “messing about with how they were originally written” not realising that all the melodies we sing to Wesley’s hymns are not the ‘original’ tunes either?
Matt, yes, but for the most part only on occasions where the new version was not done well. For reasons that still baffle me, older congregations have the HARDEST time with syncopated rhythms, which is pretty much the given style for contemporary worship music at the moment. If the worship leader is clear and the instrumental accompaniment is helpful, most congregations have no major problems picking up new songs or hymn chorus. However, bad leading (especially rhythmically) really throws a congregation off and then they hate the new music because they can’t follow it and it makes no sense to them. I also think maintaining familiar instrumentation with older congregations helps immensely to facilitate learning new songs. If they are used to just a piano, then use just the piano for the new songs because with a full band their ears will get lost.
That has to do with culture. If you grew up with relatively “traditional” melodies (4 part harmony, piano/organ only, melody pretty much on the beat), then you’ll just have trouble with syncopation. I remember reading that the younger generation has trouble with 4-part/relatively straight rhythm songs. They’re just not used to them. It gets worse if you’re trying to do groups of people singing syncopated rhythms when they’re not used to them.
And of course, if the original melodies are good enough for Paul and the other disciples, they should be good enough for us, too. 😉
I actually appreciate this list, though we don’t know/use a couple of those. I also find it amusing that “Shout to the Lord” is still considered “Contemporary” in a lot of church circles. I think it’s in some hymnals now. Yes it’s newer, but by contemporary standards, it’s getting kind of old.
For newer hymn-type songs, I appreciated those from the Getty’s, some of Stuart Townend’s songs, and Matthew Smith did a pretty good compilation. Also, Sovereign Grace re-did a bunch of hymns recently with newer melodies, but very deep lyrics. Those were pretty cool.
Probably the one I’d add would be Matt Maher’s “Your Grace Is Enough.”
I am curious, though, from the perspective of worship leaders: Why do seemingly most congregational versions of Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” make it cheerful when the original studio recording is so sobering, contemplative, and arguably even melancholic? In some cases, I’ve seen people pogo during the chorus (although at worship gatherings, not church services). The more upbeat the version, the more at odds it seems to me to be with the lyrics.
It would also seem to me that the music of Rich Mullins could be a bridge between older and younger generations (e.g., “Peace” during the Eucharist). I heard it once speculated that his music was too individualistic for congregational singing, but (unfortunately, IMHO) that charge applies to most contemporary worship songs, which use “I” rather than “we.”