My Ten Favorite Contemporary Worship Songs
- Thursday, February 15, 2007
A few months ago I wrote about my ten favorite hymns. Later I added another entry on my top ten gospel songs. At the time, I promised that I would eventually write about my favorite contemporary worship songs. I intended to get around to it earlier but kept putting it off until Steve Boisse reminded me a few days ago. So on this final day of 2006, here is the list of my ten favorite contemporary worship songs.
But before I get to the list, the usual caveats apply. This list has absolutely no validity except that it represents songs that mean something to me. These are songs that speak to my mind, encourage my heart and fortify my soul. In surveying the landscape of contemporary music, I do not find myself sharing the skepticism of many older adults who find nothing useful in this music. Remember, "A Mighty Fortress" was once a contemporary hymn and "Victory in Jesus" was once a contemporary gospel song. Times change, tastes change, styles change, and this is not bad. If you are over 50, you don't have to like everything the young people like. As I survey the contemporary music scene, I find myself drawn to music with strong biblical content, singable lyrics and a God-centered focus.
Now that I have put my list together, I realize that I postponed doing it in part because by definition anything that is "contemporary" changes all the time. I decided to take a loose definition and include any music written in the last thirty years, thus excluding "He's Everything to Me," "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" and "Pass It On," which most of the young people don't know, but I can remember when those songs were cutting edge. For that matter, I can remember when "Heaven Came Down" was considered edgy, but that's another story.
A powerful statement of who Christ is, what he has done for us, and why our hope must be in Christ alone.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
Though it has been around for a few years, this remains one of the most popular contemporary choruses. Lots of churches that don't consider themselves contemporary sing this song-and do the motions-thus giving testimony to a good marriage of lyrics and music. Very singable, simple, and it contains a short course in Christology:
You came from heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high
Again, an older song that retains its vitality, primarily because of its outward focus buttressed by strong theology. People who criticize contemporary songs as being shallow should take a look at "Shine, Jesus Shine."
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