Favorite Worship Albums of 2004
- Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2004 1 Jan
Like all of Christian music, worship is a diverse genre. Some albums are designed for use in congregational settings, others for seeker-friendly audiences or personal times of worship. Yet while these albums—and artists—approach things differently, they all ultimately serve the same purpose of glorifying our Creator.
Because of this diversity, we don't ranked our annual list of Favorite Worship Albums. We're not looking to elevate one form of worship over another, but simply to share 12 of the finest praise albums from the last year.
Eight of this year's 12 albums are associated with Integrity Music, but that's just a matter of excellence, not favoritism. Selections are based on quality of songwriting and arrangements, practicality of music in various settings, and achievements in production and performance.
Our favorites (listed in alphabetical order by artist's last name):
Would any list of the year's finest worship albums be complete without the latest from Delirious? This band has remained true to its worshipful roots while alternating between congregational and creative albums.
Here's one that offers a bit of everything. Doerksen has quietly become one of today's most important worship writers of the contemporary church, and here he presents a mix of creative hymn arrangements ("Great Is Thy Faithfulness"), old favorites ("Refiner's Fire," "Creation Calls"), and new originals ("Today," "Fortress 144"). The genres are varied between the traditional and the modern, with diverse sounds that include guitars, keyboards, a rhythm section, a jazz ensemble, and
We are a diverse body of worshipers, and it's reflected through the variety of sounds and styles represented by various denominations and the slew of worship albums released each year. This outstanding album brings it all together. A longtime labor of love for Natalie Grant and her husband, producer Bernie Herms,
How many times have people been off base comparing Christian artists to the sophisticated and jazzy acoustic pop of John Mayer? Well here's someone who actually sounds like him—vocally and on the guitar. Perhaps too much so, judging by the cool "Neon"-styled remake of "Meet with Me" and a wild solo instrumental rendition of the "Doxology." Place Gungor's considerable musical skills and likeable sound in a worship context, and it's hard to believe that this newcomer hasn't received more attention in the last year. If nothing else, you may have heard the upbeat "Friend of God," co-written with producer Israel Houghton and slowly on the rise with contemporary churches. That's only the tip of the iceberg on an album that effectively balances art, worship, skill, and songwriting all around.
What a tremendous leap forward for Heaslip since his 2003 debut. Before, he merely sounded a little like fellow UK-leaders Matt Redman and Tim Hughes. Now he's come up with an album that outdoes both of their 2004 releases by avoiding getting bogged down in modern rock production or charismatic repetition.
Israel Houghton and New Breed bring us an impressive two-disc concert set from mid-2004.
If you want
Many of you know her as the woman who originally sang "Hungry (Falling on My Knees)," and some of you might recognize her as the primary worship leader on the landmark worship album
Hailing from San Diego, where they still lead a progressive worship service for young adults, Something Like Silas is the coolest band to enter the worship scene since Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus. Blending the atmospherics of The Violet Burning with the energy of David Crowder Band and some Delirious for good measure, this band manages to create an arty sound that is still accessible ear candy. Lyrically, SLS is adept at making the listener think and feel as they give praise to the Lord. This may not be the ideal corporate worship album, but it is a terrific alternative worship album.
Any new worship director looking for songs to launch a modern worship service should probably start with this guy. Tomlin has quickly gained prominence as a world-renowned worship leader, contributing nine songs in the last five years that have charted in the CCLI's Top 500.
Whatever happened to Vineyard Music Group? Despite worship music's popularity, the once-leading label dramatically decreased output in 2004. Fortunately, one of the year's releases was this little treasure, which WorshipMusic.com named Worship Album of the Year. Featuring the Vineyard Cincinnati worship team, this album comes close to past essentials like
Tommy Walker combines the pep of Hillsong Australia with the pop style of Steven Curtis Chapman. While Israel and New Breed lean slightly to the gospel side of worship, Walker's similarly eclectic music tends to favor more of a jazz/funk-influenced adult contemporary sound. And yet this worship leader—responsible for gems like "He Knows My Name," "Mourning Into Dancing," and "These Things Are True of You"—still hasn't garnered the attention he deserves. This new album revives his retro-sounding "Prepare Ye the Way" while introducing wonderful new anthems like "Heavenly Touch" and "Jesus We Celebrate Your Fame." A recent missions trip inspired the African-flavored "I'm Not Ashamed." If you haven't yet discovered Walker's music, this album's a good place to start.