Top Ten Worship Songs That Just Won’t Go Away



Ah, worship songs.  Those all-too singable tunes we hear every Sunday morning, constructed of no more than five easy chords and at least one sentence looped eight times.  On the way to church on Sundays, we ask ourselves, “What’s the worship leader going to play today? I hope it’s ‘One Thing Remains’. I love that song!”

And then, for some reason, there are those songs that keep coming back. Maybe particular songs evoke a sense of nostalgia and familiarity to the band or congregation, or perhaps the worship leader loves to hear everyone sing along, even if no one’s hearts are really in it because their brains are saying, “Didn’t we do this one last week?” Yes, we probably did.

Here are ten worship songs that just won’t quit.

10) Breathe

Writer: Marie Barnett
Year Written: 1995
Current CCLI rank: 43 (What is CCLI?)

Breathe is a simple song, complete with heartfelt lyrics of adoration and two incredibly catchy chorus lines, repeated over and over again. It was great when the band sang it the first ten times. I’m desperate for something different, aren’t you?

9) Holy Is The Lord

Writer: Chris Tomlin
Year Written: 2004
Current CCLI rank: 17

This masterpiece, in its great simplicity, caught fire in churches across America immediately.  It was Tomlin’s biggest anthem since “Forever”, and it is still resounding in its three-chord glory every week.  The most awkward part for me is the opening line: “We stand and lift up our hands…” The more this song is played, the less people you can count on actually doing it.

8) Trading My Sorrows

Writer: Darrell Evans
Year Written: 1998
Current CCLI rank: 47

I remember when my church started playing this every other week back in ’99, and the funny feeling I got on my tongue after repeating the chorus several times.  The bridge is incredible, but aren’t there other songs by now? Please, keep saying “Yes, Lord,” but please, no, worship leaders. No.

7) Shout to the Lord

Writer: Darlene Zschech
Year Written: 1993
Current CCLI rank: 20

Ah, Darlene Zschech’s megachurch megahit, featuring a sweeping crescendo of a chorus contrasted with a nearly unreachable baritone “mighty love” in the opening verse, inspiring thousands of female worship leaders to step up to the mic with their best impersonations of the animated legendary worship songwriter.  The fact that this song is now legendary warrants retirement, and its CCLI rank is downright astounding.  Put it in the worship song hall of fame, and please leave it there.

6) You Are My King

Writer: Billy Foote
Year Written: 1995
Current CCLI rank: 16

Any worship song that was written while I was still in high school should be considered an oldie, and therefore omitted from your church’s worship set.  If I started blasting “Waterfalls” by TLC, people would immediately say something to the effect of, “Wow, that was my jam back in the day.” “You Are My King” was written the same year.  Is it still your jam?

5) Open the Eyes of My Heart

Writer: Paul Baloche
Year Written: 1998
Current CCLI rank: 13

The “How Great Is Our God” of the early 2000s, this song is a church staple and a great song to communicate a simple prayer: we want to see God. Millions of churchgoers across the country agree, singing this song hundreds of times, and now their hearts probably look something like the all-seeing creature in Revelation: covered in eyes. It’s a great reminder to ask God to help us be more perceptive to Him, but do we really have to keep singing this song for Him to do it?

4) God of Wonders

Writer: Mark Byrd and Steve Hindalong (made popular by City On A Hill)
Year Written: 2000
Current CCLI rank: 33

I remember hearing this song for the first time in my church bookstore, headphones on, taken aback by the beautiful arrangement of featured artists. Mac Powell, Caedmon’s Call (the predecessor of today’s Casting Crowns), AND that Sixpence None the Richer chick!? Having just picked up the guitar, I found the song easy to play, and it quickly made its way into our youth worship set repetoire. It also made its way into the KLOVE rotation and every church set around the country.  It’s still there today.

3) Forever

Writer: Chris Tomlin
Year Written: 2001
Current CCLI rank: 12

Quoting the familiar refrain from Psalm 136 several times and magnifying the everlasting aspect of God’s love and faithfulness, this had “hit worship song” written all over it, sparking an ongoing trend of churches playing Chris Tomlin songs every time he released a new album. This song has been played so many times, it seems that the song itself has begun to embody the very message in it: “Forever you are with us… forever…” And ever.  And ever.

2) Lord I Lift Your Name On High

Writer: Rick Founds
Year Written: 1989
Current CCLI rank: 24

When Rick Founds was inspired to write this song, I was busy playing Nintendo (the original one), the USSR was quickly dissolving, and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was burning up the charts. With a straight-forward message of praise and four easy chords, this song might never go away — just like the old school Nintendo games I still play on my phone occasionally — but Russia seems to have moved on. Nintendo has released several consoles since.  And Poison… well, they’ve been touring with Def Leppard recently.  I suppose it’s hard to let go of the past sometimes.

1) How Great Is Our God

Writer: Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash
Year Written: 2004
Current CCLI rank: 1

You probably sang it in church this past Sunday.  If you didn’t, you sang it the week before. Where would we be without Chris Tomlin? I suppose we’d be singing “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” instead. This anthem is so contagious, it even tells you to sing along, and I’m sure that as you read this, you’re humming the melody in your head.  Go ahead, sing it again. Consider it a warm-up for next Sunday.

Honorable mention: Heart of Worship, Hosanna (Brooke Fraser version), I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever, Mighty to Save, Blessed Be Your Name


Have your say!

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  1. I love All of the songs you listed. They are all so catchy. I wonder how long they will stay around??

    • Haha, probably for several more years. That’s an unfortunate reality to aspiring praise song songwriters; they have to get past the established wall of well-marketed and heavily played songs. But people will still sing them, and worship leaders will still pick and play ’em.


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