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AN NRT STAFF EDITORIAL
Top 15 Worship Albums of 2013
Lead Contributor Kevin Davis shares his favorite praise projects of the calendar year in this editorial.
 


This past year has featured some incredible new albums and songs by Christian artists. As a believer, one of my daily devotionals is to spend time worshiping my Lord and Savior Jesus by singing Him worship songs in adoration of His Majesty and Love. These are my top 20 worship albums of 2013 that all lead me into the Throne Room. (You can view my entire list here.)
 
1. Worth It All by Meredith Andrews
Meredith Andrews' excellent songwriting, singing and captivating songs have made her my favorite female worship songwriter and singer. If you like Christy Nockels, Brooke Fraser Ligertwood and Natalie Grant, you must get Worth It All by Meredith Andrews. The standout congregational worship songs are "Open Up the Heavens," "Not for a Moment (After All)," "Strong God" and "Worth It All." 

Don't miss the gut-wrenching personal songs "Start With Me," "All I Ask" and "Burn Away." Truly, every song is amazing. It's hard to imagine, but Meredith has now once again released her "best" album topping her previous excellent work. This is the most spine-tingling female led worship project I've ever experienced, and all of these songs are completely anointed, Spirit-led and emotionally captivating. There are no weak songs, and this album is truly a masterpiece. Worth It All is flawless and overflows with worship-driven emotional responses to our Lord and Savior.
 
2. Heart by The City Harmonic
This album causes me to think about what kind of a "love letter" my life story is writing for Jesus. It is my belief that every single believer needs to hear this album. If you're only going to buy one album this year, I strongly suggest Heart. I'm both challenged and entertained, and I love hearing Scripture proclaimed in fresh and exciting ways. Every song is emotionally stirring and rooted in the Truth of God's Word. The only other musically emotional experience I've had that is comparable, "Fix You" by Coldplay, isn't rooted in biblical Truth.

The themes of this album are about trusting God and loving Him and loving others as He loved us. All of the songs are catchy, exciting and worshipful. After listening to the album, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the "heart" behind this album, and thank you The City Harmonic for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God.
 

3. Fortunate Fall by Audrey Assad
All of the songs on Fortunate Fall are a wonderful companion in my personal prayer and devotion time. "Lead Me On," "I Shall Not Want" and the single "Good to Me" are among my favorite songs this year, and this is a very soothing album that leads me to the Throne Room of Grace. Audrey has always had an indie artist sound to her music, reminding me of singer-songwriters like Ingrid Michaelson, A Fine Frenzy and Jewel. Unlike those artists, however, this album was written for the Church, which is an absolute blessing and honor for me to savor and pray these songs along with my favorite female singer.

Audrey puts her full passion behind everything she sings and is an avid reader of Scripture and other faith-based influences, which makes her lyrics even more rooted in Truth. I agree with and say "amen" to every single note of every song on Fortunate Fall. These are great songs to pray along with Audrey and express your own yearnings for holiness and God's presence.
 
4. The Neverclaim by The Neverclaim
The Neverclaim may be the most clearly Jesus-focused collection of worship songs I have ever heard, which is so refreshing in this musical era of ambiguity and euphemisms. If you've been desperately waiting for a fresh filling of The Holy Spirit-led worship that is truly unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then don't miss out on this incredible album, one of the best of the year for sure. If you feel like most of what you sing in church sounds the same, and you want to experience an uplifting soul-stirring and completely worshipful album, look no further than The Neverclaim.

My favorite songs are "Revival," "Pearl of Great Price," "Steal Their Hearts," "My Soul Longs," "Mighty Jesus," "Burn" and "One Truth, One Life", which has quickly become one of my favorite worship songs. If you like the rock bands NEEDTOBREATHE, Rhett Walker Band and Third Day, you need to check out The Neverclaim.
 
5. Tides by Bethel Music
These excellent studio recordings on Tides are all prayers and personal confessions of submission to God. These are great songs to pray along with these anointed worship leaders and express your own desire for God's presence. I really love how expressive these songs are, and they allow listeners to reflect on profound words like "This life, this love was always meant to be a wild crazy adventure / discovering the thrill, the rush / the more of You I see, the more it leaves me wanting everything, You're everything" from guaranteed hit song "Chasing You." 

I'm impressed by the consistent quality and fresh worshipful songs that come from Bethel Music. This album is no exception. Tides is about proclaiming the majesty of God and crying out for His Presence throughout this incredible worship experience. This album is a must-have for your praise and worship collection.
 

6. The Ascension by Phil Wickham
I've long been a fan of Brit-rock bands like U2, Keane, Snow Patrol and others who make emotional alternative rock music, but don't always have edifying messages. The first time I heard Phil Wickham's song "Grace" from his self-titled major label debut, I was hooked by his enthusiastic and reverent songs, layered with a Brit-rock musical vibe. I've felt that he's improved with each new album and has breathed several new worship anthems into the Church, like "Always Forever," "You're Beautiful," "Cannons," "Because of Your Love" and "At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)." We sing all of those songs at my church on a regular basis, and I was excited to hear Phil's latest offering, The Ascension. The lead single from the album is "This Is Amazing Grace," which is another song for the Church, in the style of Phil's previous offerings of enthusiastic praise and worship about our King and Savior, Jesus. I feel like the preceding songs build up to that celebratory moment on the album. This song kind of reaches a crescendo, and anchors down one of the adoration and celebration moments in the context of the other songs. This song and this album takes me to another realm of holiness and thirsting for God's presence.
 
7. Citizens by Citizens
What's most impressive is how the catchy songs on this album will have you singing along at the top of your lungs after just a couple of listens. This is the best new worship band I've heard since Delirious, which is absolutely incredible. Just like Delirious, I think Citizens has a great opportunity to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God with their transparent lyrics and incredible musical talent.  

The album Citizens completely rocks and is loaded with songs you can proudly share with your friends and family. The themes of this album are to trust God, love Him and love others as He loved us. All of the songs are catchy, exciting and worshipful. After listening to the album, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the heart behind this album. Thank you, Citizens, and Mars Hill Music, for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God.
 
 

8. The Invisible by Daniel Bashta
Daniel Bashta's songs are all musically layered with his explosive, raw vocal interpretation which are suited for corporate worship and are a full-tilt revelation of God's presence. Worshippers will be blessed by "I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)," "Praise The Invisible," "Deliver Us" and "Let Hope In." Savor those anointed songs and allow them to bring a tingling of the Holy Spirit and listen to God's still small voice. They are among the best opening tracks I've heard on any album, along with the standout songs "Undone" and "In The Ruins." 

I am very impressed by this album and it is already in heavy rotation for me in my personal time of worship and reflection. Daniel has taken the next step forward in establishing his unique brand of vulnerable, sincere and gourmet worship songwriting. If you like the charismatic worship artists Jesus Culture and Jeremy Riddle and Bashta's hit song "Like A Lion," then don't miss out on The Invisible. The album is loaded with meaningful and moving songs for the Church.

9. Zion by Hillsong United
Hillsong UNITED is known for such worldwide worship anthems as "Shout To The Lord," "Mighty To Save," "From The Inside Out," "The Stand," "Hosanna," "Desert Song," and many more modern worship anthems sung by tens of millions every week in worship services around the world. I eagerly await each new Hillsong UNITED release and Zion is truly stellar, featuring the standout songs "Relentless," "Scandal of Grace," "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" and "A Million Suns." In my opinion, Hillsong has managed to release their newest best album with each release since Mighty To Save. We often feel ashamed and unworthy of God's perfect Love, but that's the point. We aren't worthy, and God still wants all of us and loves us deeply. This entire album is about giving and accepting love. Zion is one of the top worship albums of the year.
 
10. We Are Young & Free by Hillsong Young & Free
Hillsong's ministry is worldwide, and their songs are sung by millions weekly. Their songs, including "Mighty To Save," "Stronger," "Forever Reign," "God is Able" and "Hosanna" are an ongoing blessing to the global Church. Each new chapter of Hillsong's music ministry from Darlene Zschech to Reuben Morgan to Joel Houston has built on the previous legacy, and once again they are setting a new trend musically with the electronic dance music-based worship of this new music ministry. 

Hillsong UNITED released Zion, including the hit song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," which features Taya Smith on vocals. The first time I heard Taya singing the lead vocals on "Wake" by Hillsong Young & Free, I was hooked. The song has such a contemporary sound, and the message is inspiring for believers of all ages, young and... not as young, for the free in Christ and for those looking for freedom. The energy and excitement of this album is infectious, and it makes me lift my hands up to God, and dance before Him like David, unashamed, with all of my might. God enjoys when we have abandon before Him, like David, a man after God's own heart. You won't be able to help but want to dance and sing along with these super exciting new songs of praise.
 
11. Only a Shadow (Live) by Misty Edwards
The album is framed between themes of the love of God and the resulting pledges of unwavering devotion fueled by this love, sustaining endurance and imparting vision for eternity amidst earthly trials. As is typical of Misty Edwards' signature style, both soaring and subdued vocals bear the same provoking, soul-stirring potency. Her penchant for cutting through embellishment to reveal the heart of a matter shines through in each track, resonating beautifully in this vast atmosphere of worship. Only a Shadow invites the listener to encounter the eternal Source of light. The ethereal musical style and Misty's powerful and gorgeous vocals keep me hanging on every word she sings and speaks. All fourteen songs completely focus me as a listener on joining her in praise, worship and adoration of our King, Jesus. Don't miss the stand-out songs, "Baptize My Heart," "Only a Shadow," "Shine like the Stars," "When You Think of Me," "I Will Waste My Life" and "I Give It All." Get ready to experience and encounter the eternal Love of Jesus in these captivating songs.
 
 

12. Deeper by Christine D'Clario
Christine is clearly in love with Jesus, and the way these songs convey her relationship with our Lord and Savior in these songs is truly inspiring and convicting. If you like albums with God-focused worshipful lyrics, musical diversity and engaging female vocals with a lot of range, then you’ll want to check out Deeper by Christine D’Clario. Every song on this album has quickly become a staple in my playlist of my favorite worship anthems. The songs are all worshipful and catchy. The vertical worship and number of songs I could imagine singing in union with fellow believers in a corporate worship setting is another highlight of this very solid album. Some of the songs that would be great additions to church services are “Reign,” “Magnified,” “Pursuit,” “Father of Mine” and “Your Presence is Heaven.” This is one of the most emotionally moving albums I’ve ever heard. Christine’s remarkable singing voice and her interesting music and lyrics are truly captivating. For sure, this will be among my top worship albums of the year. Do yourself a favor and buy this album immediately. You’ll be refreshed, nourished, encouraged and turn to God for your strength.
 
13. All The People Said Amen by Matt Maher
All the People Said Amen is Matt Maher at his most dynamic. This album provides listeners with thirteen tracks that seek to give a voice to humanity's acceptance of God's love in any circumstance. In the same way that the Psalms offer expressions of joy, sorrow, repentance, hope and victory, this album gives a voice to the appreciation and adoration of God in every chapter of life. Matt Maher's enthusiastic and reverent style of writing and singing praise and worship songs has consistently been a draw for me. Maher's prayerful sentiments are consistently filled with his personal adoration of God. All The People Said Amen is no exception. Several of these songs should be added to your Sunday morning worship set, especially the new songs "All The People Said Amen," "Lord, I Need You," "Burning In My Soul," and the gorgeous ballads "Adoration" and "Mighty Fortress."
 
 
14. Burning Lights by Chris Tomlin
What's most impressive is how these catchy songs will have you singing along at the top of your lungs after just a couple of listens. Burning Lights is my new favorite overall album by Chris Tomlin. There's biblical truth married to personal lyrics in the songs "Awake My Soul," "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)," "Lay Me Down" and the moving song "Shepherd Boy." The album is loaded with incredible songs for the Church, especially "Crown Him (Majesty)," "White Flag," "Jesus, Son of God," "Countless Wonders" and "Thank You God for Saving Me."
 
They are all instantly sing-able and worshipful arrangements that you'll want to add to your Sunday morning set-list. The themes of this album are Trusting God, loving Him and loving others as He loved us. All of the songs are catchy, exciting and worshipful. After listening to the album, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the heart behind this album, and thank you Chris for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God.
 
15. The Rock Won't Move by Vertical Church Band
This great album has quickly become one of my top worship albums of the year, fitting in nicely with upbeat and exciting worship like We Are Young & Free by Hillsong Young & Free, Citizens by Citizens, and Heart by The City Harmonic. If you like those bands and albums, then don’t hesitate to check out Vertical Church Band. The idea of an entire album filled with songs proclaiming Jesus as our Rock and our foundation is a devotional challenge as left to our own devices, many of us would build on sinking sand. What’s especially cool about this new album is how every song is true to that biblical concept with strong messages.
 
I really enjoy the exciting musical vibe of this album, and the melodies and lyrics are all catchy and biblical. The Rock Won’t Move is loaded with great rock beats, catchy melodies and solid lyrics reflecting unashamed faith in Jesus. Everything we do and everything we have needs to come from the place of who we are in Jesus. There's safety and security in the knowledge of our Savior and Redeemer. There's only one name under Heaven by which we can be saved, Jesus. This album proclaims that Truth in every single song. Don't miss out on this incredible worship album, one of the best of the year for sure.
 
 
And rounding out the Top 20 are five more albums worthy of consideration:
16.  Home by Kim Walker-Smith & Skyler Smith
17.  Your Grace Finds Me (Live) by Matt Redman
18.  Patterns by Cloverton
19.  Brady Toops by Brady Toops
20.  Loud Love by Joanna Beasley

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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