It’s no secret how much I love contemporary Christian music. I sing it in my living room, the kitchen, my car, the shower … Or at least, I try to sing.
When my grandson was super-tiny, We’re talking tint-tiny, I often would sing him to sleep with “How He Loves.”
A few years back I ran a marathon and during training I filled my iPod with Christian music that had the tempo I wanted to run. They helped me run consistently sub-10-minute miles, and singing along the way – in my head, at least – helped the miles to fly by.
Yet my greatest joy is just worshipping God, and music takes me to a whole different level of praise, as I’m sure it does for just about everyone. No matter what music you listen to, whether it’s contemporary, hymns or any other genre, it’s just a great way to spend time with the Lord.
My current playlist is just 16 songs, not always performed by the original artist and featuring no theme other than the obvious. But they are songs that cause something to well up inside me. They take me to that next level of worship. They make me stop and think, “Wow, our God is just so amazing.”
That’s why the very first song on my playlist “God of Wonders” says just that: “The universe declares Your majesty.”
Here’s my current Spotify playlist:
God of Wonders
About the song: Written by Steve Hindalong and Marc Byrd (not of Third Day). In an interview with Songfacts about “God of Wonders,” Hindalong said, “It’s beyond our comprehension really – this notion that the Creator, not just of our world, not just of the Milky Way, but all the galaxies in the universe — wants to share in intimate relationship with each of His children.”
My favorite line: “The universe declares Your majesty.”
About the song: Was the top-rated song on Contemporary Christian Music’s first chart and won the 1980 Dove Award. Francisco was also named Songwriter of the Year. This song makes me wonder, what would I have done, what would I have felt, if I were Peter on the day Jesus was resurrected.
My favorite line: “Jesus stood before me, with His arms held open wide. And I fell down on my knees, and just clung to Him and cried.”
You Are My King (Amazing Love)
About the song: It spells out exactly why Jesus is our king. Also asks a key question, that I think is safe to say most Christians will ask at one time or another, “Why would Jesus die for me?” Then answers it for us with two simple words: “Amazing Love.”
My favorite line: “I am alive and well; Your sprit is within me; Because You died and rose again.”
About the song: Written by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor, the song proclaims that Jesus reigns all over the world and that his followers have power over “darkness” when we proclaim His glory. It’s one of those songs you just have to sing along with and belt it out loud.
My favorite line: “It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation. A love song born of a grateful choir.”
God Only Knows
(For King & Country with Dolly Parton)
About the song: It tackles loneliness that everyone – even if surrounded by people who love them – feels at one time or another (sometimes many times.) No matter how social a person may be, as the lyrics claim, “God only knows the real you.” A remix was recorded with Dolly Parton. It was named Song of the Year at the K-LOVE awards, received a GMA Dove Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.
My favorite line: “There’s a kind of love that God only knows.”
No One But You
About the song: One of many great songs from Hillsong United, this song speaks to me on many different levels, including just how great God is and how knowing God changes us inside and out. A terrific worship song for all ages.
My favorite line: “The Lord of my soul; The King of my heart; Jesus it’s You.”
About the song: Searching the Internet for this song title brings many hits, but Hillsong Worship’s version touches me most. From the album “All You’ve Done,” this brilliant song is a blueprint for how we should worship and praise God.
My favorite line: “Your faithfulness sings over me. And Your love is the light of my soul.”
How He Loves
(John Mark McMillan with Kim Walker-Smith)
About the song: My favorite worship song by far. McMillan reportedly wrote it the day after the death of his best friend. The song was released in 2005 and has been covered by many well-known artists. It speaks to me on so many levels, but really touches my heart. When I think about God’s love and just what that means in my life it creates a peace in me that is indescribable – and I’m a writer. I feel this song encapsulates that love magnificently.
My favorite line: “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.”
Your Grace is Enough
Click here to watch video
About the song: Matt Maher wrote “Your Grace is Enough” in 2003 and Chris Tomlin asked if he could record it on his 2004 album “Arriving,” according to a umcdiscipleship.org article. The song touches on important themes to all Christians, mainly on God’s faithfulness, mercy, love and justice. As the title suggests, it reminds that in any circumstance, God’s grace is enough.
My favorite line: “God, I see Your grace is enough; I’m covered in Your love; Your grace is enough for me, for me.”
Here I Am to Worship
About the Song: It won the 2003 Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year and was No. 1 on the Christian Copyright Licensing International top songs list for two straight years. It has been covered many artists including Michael W. Smith and Chris Tomlin. The song not only recaps Jesus’ descension to Earth but highlights its impact on us today; and that’s why we worship Him.
My favorite line: “Humbly You came to the earth You created; All for love’s sake became poor.”
Blessed Be Your Name
About the song: Matt and Beth Redman wrote this song in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to an article on umcdiscipleship.org. The article states, “The Redmans observed that among PEC hymn repertories, there was not enough language to grapple with the grief.” It has been covered many times and is a staple in current contemporary services.
My Favorite line: “Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
(Phillips, Craig & Dean)
About the song: Written by Brian Doerksen and covered by many, this song is a great framework for unending worship. Among the things that Doerksen calls us to do is come as we are, give our hearts, confess with our tongues, surrender our lives and choose God with “all our heart, soul, mind and strength.”
My favorite line: “The greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now.”
Better is One Day
About the song: This is another Redman classic that has been covered by many. It tackles a desire that wells up in us after we encounter God to want to continually be in His presence. If you pour over the words, there are many scripture references hidden in there. It’s a fun treasure hunt.
My favorite line: “One thing I ask, and I would seek; To see Your beauty; To find You in the place Your glory dwells.”
What a Beautiful Name
About the song: Written by Brooke Ligertwood and Ben Fielding, it won Dove Awards for Song and Worship Song of the Year in 2017, the year it was released, and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song in 2018. A blog on Hillsong’s website says it all: “The name of Jesus encompasses more than we can hope or imagine – more beauty, more wonder, more power.”
My favorite line: “You didn’t want heaven without us; So, Jesus, You brought heaven down. My sin was great, Your love was greater; What could separate us now?”
Mighty to Save
About the song: Written by Fielding and Reuben Morgan, it won the Dove Award for Worship Song of the Year in 2009. Numerous artists have covered it including Michael W. Smith, Newsboys and MercyMe. The title says it all, God is truly “Mighty to Save.”
My favorite line: “So take me as You find me; All my fears and failures; And fill my life again.”
Open The Eyes of My Heart
(Michael W. Smith)
About the song: Written and originally released by Paul Baloche, it has been covered by many. The song is based on Ephesians 1:18 where Paul’s letter says: “I pray the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you…”
My favorite line: “To see You high and lifted up; Shinin’ in the light of Your glory.”
Sources: songfacts.com; dollyparton.com; Wikipedia.com; umcdiscipleship.org; hillsong.com