This past year has featured some incredible new worship albums and songs. I have had the privilege to worship along with more than 40 new worship albums this year, proof that 2016 has been one of the best years in recent memory to "sing to the Lord a new song" (Psalm 96:1) with amazing offerings by these artists.
As a believer, one part of my daily devotions is spending time worshiping my Lord and Savior Jesus by singing worship songs in adoration of His majesty and love. These are my top 10 worship albums of 2016 along with 10 honorable mentions. I'd love to know your favorite worship album and which worship songs have resonated in your hearts this past year; leave them in the comments!
1. Citizens & Saints: A Mirror Dimly
For me, A Mirror Dimly is easily the top worship album of the year. We were all created to worship, and this album gives us several creative and biblically-based expressions. As sung in "How Majestic," we can conclude together in Christ that "all is well, mercies are new this day. Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth."
From the truth of "Your ways are not my ways" in "Madness" to "rejoice and be glad in Him" in "My Joy Complete," this album is loaded with prayerful language that will encourage you and lift high the majestic name of Jesus. While we can't see everything in our fallen world through life's mirror dimly obscuring grace and truth, this album will remind you we are God's "Kids" and "loved no matter what" to help you overcome your "Doubting Doubts."
2. Bethel Music: Have it All
If you are looking for new worship songs to sing with fellow believers, Have It All is chock-full of congregational songs, especially "Faithful to the End," "Have it All," "Pieces," "Lion and the Lamb," "Heaven Come," "Mercy" and "Spirit Move." Every song released by Bethel Music completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship and adoration of Jesus. These songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics.
The theme of "you can have it all, God" weaves through every song, a message that all believers need to hear. This album is best described as a worship experience with an ethereal tone. These anointed worship leaders have consistently impressed me with their mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. Worship is about submission, and our roles as worshippers are clearly defined in the title track: to just be amazed and in awe of God.
3. Audrey Assad: Inheritance
These are very passionate worship songs sung with vocal sincerity and reverence. A sincere desire for the presence of God is found in every song, and you will be hanging on each word that Audrey tenderly sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus to Jesus. Inheritance is a completely worshipful album. There are several personal songs that melt my heart, especially "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" and "New Every Morning."
There are several instantly sing-able and worshipful arrangements that you'll want to add to your Sunday morning set list. I especially recommend "Holy, Holy, Holy," "I Wonder As I Wander," "How Can I Keep From Singing," "O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" and one of my top worship songs of the year, "Even Unto Death." All of the songs are memorable, reverent and worshipful. Inheritance is a must-have for your praise and worship collection. These are truly poignant songs of adoration for the Church.
4. Meredith Andrews: Deeper Meredith consistently writes and sings piercing, relevant and moving songs. What's especially cool about Deeper is how Meredith invites listeners into her life by sharing what's on her heart. She dwells on prayerful yearnings, lays out spiritual truths and worships God all at the same time. Meredith's excellent songwriting, singing and captivating songs have made her my favorite female worship songwriter and singer.
This is the most spine-tingling female led worship project I've experienced this year, and every song is completely anointed, Spirit-led and emotionally captivating. There are no weak songs, and this album is truly a masterpiece. Her songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics. Deeper is one of the top worship albums of the year.
5. Vertical Church Band: Frontiers
The beauty and majesty of our King Jesus is reverently captured throughout Frontiers with anthem after anthem, including "I See The Lord," "This We Know" and "Exalted Over All." Every single song could be added to your worship set. More importantly, this is an album about submitting to the Lordship of Jesus and declaring there is no other name under Heaven by which we are saved. A sincere desire for the presence of God and to see His Kingdom on earth is found in every song, especially "Come Holy Spirit" and "More Than I Deserve," which are both instantly sing-able prayer songs featuring declarations about Jesus and the Holy Spirit led by my favorite female worship leader Meredith Andrews.
This is yet another solid entry in Vertical Church Band's discography. "Frontiers" is a wonderful song that brings me into a state of personal worship, focusing on submitting all your worries, anxieties and stress to God and letting Him be your guide. God wants to walk beside you, and He wants us to be bold and unafraid. Believing the words of this song is a great way to work on the disciplines of self-examination and prayer.
This album is all about finding our true identity in Christ. He is the answer. Frontiers is a must-have for your praise and worship collection. This is a truly fresh and catchy set of excellent songs for the church.
6. Fellowship Creative: Eclipsed
Many of the songs on Eclipse are arranged in a very singable and catchy style. "Jesus Our Hope," "Stars" and "Jesus is Alive" are all gorgeous and worshipful ballads. Fellowship Creative's passion is to make creative music that inspires worship of Jesus Christ and to point listeners to Him. The theme of emptying ourselves in order to be filled by the Holy Spirit and celebrating God's great grace is found in "The Moment," "Grace on top of Grace" and "Eclipsed."
I greatly enjoy the musical vibe of this album, and the melodies and lyrics are all catchy and rooted in Scripture. The creative use of biblical language is a highlight, and there are no ambiguous lyrics, which is refreshing and wonderful for the Church to boldly proclaim praises to Jesus. Fans of Hillsong, Citizens & Saints and Passion should enjoy this solid gourmet worship album.
7. All Sons & Daughters: Poets & Saints
I'm really engaged by David Leonard and Leslie Jordan's emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful and vertical lyrics throughout this album that inspired by poets and saints including C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Newton, St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Augustine. The opening and closing songs "Heaven Meets Earth" and "Creation Sings" begin and close with an engaging ambient rock musical style. The soothing musical feel is just one of the many attractions to savor about this ambient and introspective worship album. I'm drawn to all of the songs' sincerity, gorgeous musical beds and the profound songwriting. More than just a collection of great songs, this album is a deeply meaningful worship experience unlike any other I've heard this year.
If you feel like many worship albums sound the same and you want to experience a fresh, deep, introspective and completely worshipful album, look no further than Poets & Saints. The standout songs are "Path of Sorrow," "My Roving Heart," "This My Inheritance," "Rest in You," "You Hold it All Together" and "I Surrender," which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite worship songs. "I Surrender" challenges me to think about what I'm allowing to rule in my heart instead of giving myself completely to God. This song is all about trusting in God and confessing to Him and others when you fail or have struggles, praying "Here I empty myself, to owe this world nothing, and find everything in You." This emotional album is loaded with hook-filled, vertical expressions with catchy melodies wrapped around worshipful lyrics. My favorite albums grow deeper with each listen, and this is easily one of the deepest and richest collections of songs of the year.
8. Onething Live: Love Makes Us Strong
I was excited to hear Onething Live: Love Makes Us Strong, recorded at Onething 2015. The project features Forerunner Music artists and IHOPKC worship leaders Misty Edwards, Jaye Thomas, Laura Hackett Park, Jonas Park and Jon Thurlow, new worship leaders Brenton Dowdy, Lauren Holmes, Christina Reynolds and Chris Tofilon and guest worship leader Audrey Assad. The collection includes gorgeous renditions of Audrey's Assad's "I Shall Not Want" by Misty Edwards and Passion's "Even So Come" by Laura Hackett Park.
Love Makes Us Strong is a completely worshipful album in the style of Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Laura Hackett Park and Misty Edwards' previous offerings of Spirit-led praise. Every single song could be added to your Sunday morning worship set. The leaders at IHOPKC all write and sing songs with an amazing passion and with inspiring, unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior. The eternal love of Jesus is beautifully expressed in these compelling songs. These are great songs to pray along with and express your own yearnings for holiness and God's presence.
9. Phil Wickham: Children of God
This album provides listeners with songs 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, Children of God gives a voice to the appreciation and adoration of God in every chapter of life. Phil's enthusiastic and reverent style of writing and singing praise and worship songs has consistently been a draw for me. His prayerful sentiments are consistently filled with his personal adoration of God.
Lead single "Your Love Awakens Me" is exactly the type of catchy corporate worship song I've come to love from Phil Wickham, in the tradition of "Cannons," "At Your Name," "This is Amazing Grace" and "You're Beautiful." The song celebrates the fact that once you are a follower of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit He is in your heart forever. We need to pray daily that the Holy Spirit shines the Light of Jesus through us. The song and this great new album are a wonderful way to celebrate that we are children of God. When we go to sleep and when we rise, we can all be praying "Your love is greater, Your love is stronger, Your love awakens, awakens, awakens me."
10. Jesus Culture: Let it Echo
For many years now, ever since the first album We Cry Out, the ministry of Jesus Culture has been a way to put Scripture into the minds, hearts and mouths of believers everywhere in a fresh and creative way. Their songs allow listeners to be edified and to be drawn to the presence of the Lord, to call out and desire to be in His presence. I know the first time I heard Kim Walker-Smith speak about God's presence in her powerful recording of "How He Loves," I was ushered into a place of reverence and awe of God, and I realized just how special it is to be one of God's children.
The first song on Let it Echo urges that we are "never gonna stop singing." We love because He first loved us. God is love. Songs are an inheritance to share in victory together. God's Word doesn't return void, and He wants us to have victory. "In the River" is an uplifting, catchy and encouraging song. As a follower of Jesus, you'll want to join in and sing out: "Break open prison doors, set all the captives free. Spring up a well, spring up a well, spring up a well in me. Nothing can stop this joy, we're dancing in the streets. Spring up a well, spring up a well, spring up a well in me. We come alive in the river."
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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