A pastor friend of mine contacted me this week and asked if I had written an article on my "Twenty Best Hymns." The reason he asked me this is that he pastors a church that hasn't used many traditional hymns for several years, and now they are trying to introduce more hymns into their congregational singing. I wanted a good list of hymns for them to use as they tried to get them back on their Sunday service diet.
Well, it so happens that I have never written an article on my "Twenty Best Hymns", although I teach Worship at Reformed Theological Seminary and have a substantial section in that course on hymnology. I've never actually written a list of my top 3, 5, 10 or 20 favorite hymns, but your question got me thinking: what hymns would I recommend any and all pastors and churches for regular use? I jotted down some ideas and sent them to him, and I've been thinking about a list of "must-have" hymns ever since.
Before offering a preliminary list, let me make a few clarifications.
First, the list of hymns I am about to suggest is deliberately crafted to be theologically compatible with Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition (Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Congregational, etc.). These hymns would be found at home in churches where the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the London Baptist Confession (1689), the New Hampshire Confession or the Savoy Declaration are valued.
Second, most of these hymns are found in the Trinity Hymnal (Great Commission Publications). The so-called “Red Trinity Hymnal” is a hymnbook widely used in the PCA and OPC (Great Commission Publications is a joint effort of these denominations). Attention was paid to ensuring that the words of the hymns are theologically compatible with historic creed and confessional Christianity.
Third, friends in significantly multi-ethnic and cross-cultural environments will have an extra layer of work to do in thinking about their diet of praise songs in their churches. For example, Mike Campbell, founding pastor of Redeemer Church (PCA) in Jackson, MS, sat down with a Trinity Hymnal and an African American Heritage Hymnal, choosing to use the hymns they shared in common.
Fourth, I have not attempted here to produce a list of hymns that cover the full scope of biblical doctrine. I tried to think of combinations of hymns and tunes that would help "win" a congregation to the treasures of church hymnology. Once the congregation knows and loves some of these great texts and traditional tunes, the pastor and musicians can begin to expand the congregation's repertoire of hymns to cover more important biblical themes.
Fifth, sing psalms too! I'm going to list some of the best metric psalm texts and melodies here to encourage you to try them out. In an ideal contemporary Protestant Lord's Day service, there should be at least one solid traditional hymn and psalm, any other material used for worship.
Sixth, I have not listed the Christmas carols, in part, because this is the part of the traditional hymns that has best persisted, while the rest of the hymns have disappeared from American churches over the last half century. The "best of the best" Christmas songs are best added to a future version of this list.
Seventh, this list is a work in progress. I accept criticism, contributions, suggestions, comments and much more. I'm just trying to help pastors and congregations with the suggestions here.
Eighth, and finally, I have a pet theory (so don't start a new denomination about it!) that the average congregant can't or won't know more than 200 hymns/songs/melodies. That is, even in churches that use a wide range of traditional hymns and "require" their members to sing, say, 200-400 songs in a relatively short period, I don't think that the average non-musician memberReallyknows, or maybe could know, more than 200 songs and, very likely, knows a lot less. My guess is that number has dropped over the past fifty years and may be closer to 50. So what, you ask? Well, there are many ramifications, but what I want the pastor to realize is that if the average member only knows 50-200 songs and possibly can't or won't know more than that, we better make sure they do. best songs possible, lyrically and melodically.
Now a quick note on resources: There are some excellent online resources that should be well known to pastors and others involved in choosing hymns and psalms for Sabbath services. I list some here. These sites have material on both traditional and contemporary hymns.
cybernetic hymnbook http://www.hymntime.com/tch/
doxology and theology http://www.doxologyandtheology.com/
indelible free music http://www.igracemusic.com/
Music by Matt Merker https://www.mattmerkermusic.com/
Music for the Church of God http://www.cgmusic.org/
salterio.org(PRCNA, Crown and Covenant)http://salterio.org/
sovereign grace music https://sovereigngracemusic.org/
Trinity Hymn Resources(OPC)http://www.opc.org/hymnal.html(This site features the "Old" or "Blue" Trinity Hymnal, predecessor of the "New" or "Red" Trinity Hymnal cited below), but there is a lot of overlap.
Part of the reason I chose these hymns below is that they still "work" in contemporary American English-speaking Protestant congregations, with their traditional melodies (although some of them also have very good contemporary melodies now associated with them, and I highly recommend some of these) . I've been to numerous churches and conferences across the country (and across the English-speaking world) in places where most of the material given to the congregation to sing comes from today's popular Christian music. , and whenever a hymn of the quality I will suggest below is sung, these congregations/conferences have invariably sung the hymn better than anything else they have sung. it fascinates me on many levels.
So, again, the hymns a continuation are not solo or even a "list of favorite hymns" (he omitted many personal favorites and he included others that are not among my personal favorites), nor is this a "list of the best hymns of Everytime". (many of the hymns here wouldn't top a list of the greatest hymns of all time), but all of these hymns are solid and, in combination with their melodies, will resonate with a congregation. These are hymns and tunes that not only still "work" in our time and culture, but are also easier to sing than other materials used by our congregations.
There are just under a hundred recommended hymns and psalms here (and many unique songs). In the left column is the hymn number in the Trinity Hymnal, then the name of the hymn, followed by the name of the melody in the hymn. You'll notice that there are almost no duplicate hymns (those used more than once are marked with an asterisk *).
hymns of praise to God
92 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God - Ein' Feste Burg
115 All Creatures of our God and King - Let Us Rejoice
642 Be You My Vision - Slane
101 Come, King Almighty – Trinity
32 Great is your faithfulness – Faithfulness
100 Holy! Sacred! Sacred! –Nicea
44 How great you are! O Gud store!
38 Immortal, Invisible, Wise God Only – Joanna (San Denio)*
2 Oh, adore o rei – Lyon*
53 Praise the Lord Almighty – Lobe Den Herren
76/7 Praise be to you, my soul, the king of heaven – Lauda Anima or Andrews
55 To God be the glory - To God be the glory
jesus christ the savior
296/7 Hail the Power of the Name of Jesus: Coronation, Diadem, or Miles Lane
277 Christ the Lord is risen today – Llanfair
302 Come, Christians, unite to sing – Madrid
295 Coroa-o com muitas coroas – Diademata
170/1 The Most Beautiful Lord Jesus – Hymn of the Crusaders
647 How sweet the name of Jesus sounds - St. Peter
168 I salute you, you are my redeeming art –Toulon
498 Jesus! What a friend of sinners! –Hyfrydol
172 Let us love, sing and wonder - All Saints
246 Man of Sorrows! What a name, hallelujah! What a Savior!
465 Wonderful grace from our loving Lord – Moody
307 Nothing But Blood – Plainfield
164 Oh for a Thousand Tongues - Azmon
247 Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded – Passion Chorale
167 When the morning gilds the skies – Lauds Domini
463 A Lonely Debtor of Mercy - Trewen
254 Wow! and I bleed my Savior - Martyrdom
460 Amazing Grace - Amazing Grace
455 And can it be? vagina
466 I sought the Lord and then I knew: peace
182 My song is unknown love - unknown love
535 Oh, deep, deep love of Jesus! –Ebenezer (or Ton-Y Bottle)
499 Rock of the Ages, Cleft for Me – Toplady
253 There is a fountain full of blood - Fountain
261 What a wonderful love is this - wonderful love
252 When I examine the Marvelous Cross – Hamburg
540 A Few More Years Will Pass - Leominster
401 All praises to Thee, my God, tonight – Canon of Tallis
402 Fique comigo: Fast Falls the Eventide-Eventide (Monk)
305 Arise, my soul, arise-Lenox
689 Be still, my soul - Finland
251 Under the Cross of Jesus – St. Cristobal
457 Come, Fountain of All Blessings - Nettleton
128 God Moves in a Mysterious Way – Dundee
598 Guíame, oh you, great Jehová–Cwm Rhondda
600 He guides me: O blessed thought! he guides me
94 How Firm Are the Foundations – Fundamentals
469 How sweet and awesome is the place - St. Colombia
705 I Know Who I Believed - El Nathan
691 My soul is fine – Ville Du Havre
644 That the Mind of Christ My Savior – St. by leonard
521/2 My hope is based on nothing less: solid rock
707 Jesus, I took up my cross - Ellesdie
706 Jesus Lives, And So Will I Live—Jesus My Trust
616 Leaning on Everlasting Arms – Showalter
708 Oh Love, Won't You Let Me Go–St. Daisy
546 The Sands of Time Are Sinking - Rutherford
111 This is my father's world – Terra Beata
95 Even if trouble overtakes us – Joanna (St. Denio)*
624 Through all the changing scenes of life-downs
672 Trust and Obey – Trust and Obey
629 What a friend we have in Jesus! What a Friend!
108 What God commands is right, was Gott Tut
Church and Sacraments
358 For All Saints – Sine Nomine
345 glorious things are said about you - Austrian anthem
378 Here, O my Lord, I see you face to face -Morecambe
353 I Love Your Kingdom, Lord–St. thomas
347 The only foundation of the Church – Aurelia
441 Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun – Duke Street*
448 We hear the joyful sound: Jesus saves
587/8 Who is on the Lord's side? armageddon
165 Servants of God, your Master Proclaim – Lyons*
715 Win, agradecidos, win – S. Georges Windsor
116 For the Beauty of the Earth – Dix
98 Now We Thank All Our God-Nun Danket
363 We Gather – Kremser
A Christian's Daily PrayerMarcas, Fournier, Kauflin
305 Arise, my soul, ariseKevin Twit (FRU)
Before the Throne of God on High–Vikki Cook (SGM)
Come, behold the wondrous mystery -Boswell, Daddy, Bleecker
Dear Haven of My Weary Soul–matte marks
554 From the depths of affliction–Christopher Miner (FRU)
He'll catch me fast–matte marks
Only in Christ -Getty/Townend
707 Jesus, I took up my cross–Bill Moore (FRU)
392 Oh, day of rest and joy!Christopher Miner (FRU)
708 Oh love, won't you let me go–Christopher Miner (FRU)
The power of the cross -Getty/Townend
1 All People That Dwell on the Earth (Psalm 100) – Ancient Centenary
7 Of All That Dwell Under Heaven (Psalm 117) – Duke Street*
486 God, have mercy on me (Psalm 51) – Redhead
57 Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah (Psalm 146)–Ripley
30 Our God, our help in the past (Psalm 90) –St. A-N-A
6/7/85 The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) – Crimond
731/2/3 Doxología: Hundredth antigua, mod. the Canon of Tallis
734/5 Gloria al Padre - Greatorex, O Meineke