Church Worship

The Top 15 Traditional Christian Hymns

  • Renee Davis
  • 2018 23 Feb
The Top 15 Traditional Christian Hymns

Funny enough, as I get older music seems to become more and more important to me. But I don’t think that’s because my tastes are changing; I think it’s because I’m coming to see more and more the power of what music can do in and to us.

Music, specifically Christian hymns, it seems to me, has the unique capacity to reach us at an emotional level that few things do. And when you combine a beautiful tune with rich, God-honoring lyrics, music becomes not only something to listen to in order to pass the time; it becomes something we can actually look to in order to preach the gospel to ourselves day in and day out.

It’s no wonder, then, that scholars tell us that one of the richest passages in the entire New Testament, Philippians 2, was actually an early Christian hymn. In these verses, we find a succinct and memorable recitation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. And it lifts my heart to think that somewhere, in a time long long ago, there were early Christians singing these words. Singing them so they would stick in their memory. Singing them so they would feel them as well as know them. Singing them so that, when all else fails the song would come back to them on the darkest days.

Such is the power of song.

As I look to the next generation – my own children – there are certain songs that have been so profoundly meaningful to me that I hope and pray they will be able to sing by heart.

There are so many beautiful songs that could have made this list, but here are our 15 favorite traditional Christian hymns!

Introduction written by Michael Kelly. Adapted for this format by the iBelieve.com editorial staff.


1. Amazing Grace

1. Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

Perhaps the best known of all traditional hymns, “Amazing Grace” was penned by John Newton in 1779. Learn more about the story behind this hymn at Amazing Grace lyrics and meaning.

2. Just As I Am

2. Just As I Am

Original Lyrics from Charlotte Elliot, 1835

Just as I am - without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am - and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Charlotte Elliot wrote this hymn in 1835 as a testament to her newfound faith in Christ. See the full lyrics and backstory of Just As I Am on Godtube.com.

3. It Is Well with My Soul

3. It Is Well with My Soul

It Is Well With My Soul Lyrics

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

In 1873, Horatio G. Spafford penned the words to this beautiful hymn after returning to the waters where his four daughters had perished in a shipwreck.

Read the full hymn lyrics and background story for It Is Well With My Soul.

4. In the Garden

4. In the Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses...

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

Following a divine vision in 1912, C. Austin Miles, in a single day, wrote and composed the musical score for this beloved hymn.

Read the full lyrics and background story of In the Garden on Godtube.com.

5. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

5. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

In 1922, Helen Howarth Lemmel penned the words for “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” following many heartaches, including adult blindness and the abandonment of her husband.

Read the full lyrics and background story of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

6. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

6. Just a Closer Walk with Thee

I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Refrain:
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.


The author of this hymn remains a mystery to this day, but its first known recording was in 1941.

Read the full lyrics and background story of Just a Closer Walk with Thee.

7. How Great Thou Art

7. How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Chorus:
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

This beloved hymn describing God’s wondrous work of creation was originally written as a poem by Carl Boberg, in 1885.

Read the full lyrics, meaning, and background story for How Great Thou Art.

8. Because He Lives

8. Because He Lives

God sent His Son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died, to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Bill and Gloria Gaither composed this beautiful song during the late 1960s when the fear of war and social unrest left many, including the couple, seeking Him for hope and courage to face tomorrow.

Read the full lyrics, meaning, and the story of Because He Lives on Godtube.com.

9. Blessed Assurance

9. Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.


A personal favorite of mine and many others, penned by blind hymn writer, Fanny J. Crosby, in 1873. 

Learn more about this hymn at Godtube.com - Blessed Assurance lyrics and meaning.

10. Rock of Ages

10. Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Inspiration for “Rock of Ages”, written in 1763 by Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady, was said to have been based on Toplady finding shelter from a horrific storm within the rocks of a gorge.

Read the full lyrics, story, and meaning of Rock of Ages.

11. The Sweet By and By

11. The Sweet By and By

There's a land that is fairer than day,
and by faith we can see it afar;
for the Father waits over the way
to prepare us a dwelling place there.

Refrain:
In the sweet by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.
In the sweet by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

S. Fillmore Bennett, along with friend and composer, Joseph P. Webster, created this 1868 hymn.

Read the full lyrics, meaning, and the story of In the Sweet By and By.

12. Jesus Paid it All

12. Jesus Paid it All

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Refrain:
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

In 1865, Elvina Hall penned the words “Jesus Paid It All”, telling of His wondrous love for us and the incomprehensible price that was paid for us to be washed ‘white as snow.’

13. What a Friend We Have in Jesus

13. What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

In 1855, Joseph M. Scriven originally wrote this hymn as a comforting poem to his ailing mother. 

Read more about this hymn at Godtube.com  - What a Friend We Have in Jesus lyrics and meaning

14. Holy, Holy, Holy

14. Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee;
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

In 1861, Reginald Heber wrote the lyrics that accurately describe the “blessed Trinity.” 

Read more about the hymn at Godtube.com - Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty lyrics and meaning 

15. Come Thou Fount

15. Come Thou Fount

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
  Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
  Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet,
  Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
  Mount of Thy redeeming love.

At the age of 22, Robert Robinson wrote the words to this most beautiful of hymns in 1757. 

Didn’t see your favorite on the list? Feel free to share your beloved hymn in the comments.

Renee Davis is a boy mom, PPD survivor, recovering fear-a-holic, and former educator. She lives on Christ and caffeine as she attempts to finally transcend mediocrity and live the life Jesus died for her to have. When not tied to her desktop and swimming in coffee, the native Floridian can be found wherever the water is salty, spending time with her son and husband of 15 years. She’s a contributor to The Good Men Project, Crosswalk, and, most recently, The Washington Post. You can learn more about Renee’s journey and her passion for helping women find their worth in the Word, not the world, at The Stay@Home Scribe.


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