In a continued celebration of reaching a hundred Worship Reflective articles, I'm using this week's edition to dive into my all-time favorites from the genre. Of course, this article is bound to be subjective, but I kept diversity among the artists with none appearing more than once. Each of these anthems means something to me, and as I often internalize music deeply, there will most likely be stories behind their selection.
Almost three years ago, I became a staff writer for NewReleaseToday hoping to edge into the Christian rock genre (which, besides an intense love for Skillet, I admittedly knew nothing about). If not that, I wanted to report on Christian contemporary pop. Now here I am, narrating my top 10 favorites in the worship genre of Christian music, and I feel I have finally found my home. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several of these artists, and these songs have helped me through some times. I have no hate for other genres, but I'm glad God knew what He was doing (doesn't He always?) when He placed me in the position to author the Worship Reflective. What an immense blessing it has been. And now, to dive into my favorites.
"Worthy Of It All/All of The Glory" by UPPERROOM
To be honest, I don't entirely know where to begin with the worship band UPPERROOM. Even in the past few weeks, my journey following this worship collective has rapidly intensified. The heart for Jesus that these leaders share is palpable in each of their captured moments. Never failing to wander off the scripted song, I find the spontaneity to be refreshing. From their releases Love Note (my favorite) to Land of The Living, the group's passion for the Lord shines on every album.
I first heard the "Worthy of It All/All of The Glory" mash-up at a youth group service (and to be honest, I cannot sing "Worthy of It All" without branching off into "All of The Glory.") The humility this melody gives to listeners is unparalleled; it nudges me to worship the same God that "all the saints and angels" bow down to.
No matter what we do alone, we will never be enough for God. So, as we all know, He sent His one and only Son down to save us. But it doesn't stop there. Do you think there was no mourning in heaven when He was obedient to God to die on the cross? Do you think the world did not shed more than a single tear over the moment that its Savior ceased to be? We always skip this part, but it is in the valley that we can warrant any future joy.
For how much greater was the celebration when He rose from the grave, signifying new life for all of God's children? It's a miracle I can't even fathom. It's a sacrifice I will never see replicated by a worldly being and one I never want to make. The glory belongs to God alone, for He is worthy of it all: our salvation, our praise and so much more—now and forever.
"Famous For (I Believe)/Do It Again" by Tauren Wells, Jenn Johnson, and Christine D'Clario
This upbeat medley brings me joy every time I hit play. Don't let the song’s length intimidate you, as it once did me. Now that I know what to expect, I sing along, and it would be a lie to say I didn't have every ad-lib memorized. Pop star Tauren Wells and Bethel Music worship leader Jenn Johnson are well known now for their confidence channeled through the hit "Famous For (I Believe)." Besides appearances by both, singer-songwriter Christine D'Clario adds an incredible Spanish element to the melody.
I would even say that the entire song feels like a ramping up of energy, only for it to explode at the end in a beautiful presentation of our Heavenly Father. I would be here all day if I tried to dive into every detail of this collaboration, so I highly suggest that you listen to it yourself. The shouts and the passion, the quiet moments, and the praise. These are just a few reasons I treasure this song with such passion. I pray you discover the same affection for it after taking part in this beautiful worship moment.
"That's The Power" by Hillsong Worship and Benjamin William Hastings
If you've read my previous columns, you’ll know my bias toward Hillsong and two of its worship leaders: Benjamin Hastings and Taya Gaukrodger. I’m drawn toward their heart for the Lord. And this song, “That’s The Power” exemplifies that fact.
"Oh, that's the power that I claim/It's the same that rolled the grave." The confidence uttered in these two simple lines takes me aback every time. These words steal the show, so to speak. With no insecurity and no reservation about himself, Benjamin declares that the power of the Lord has never changed. God hasn't digressed from His original intent of pure salvation and love; let's not allow our faith to take a detour either.
"Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)" by Hillsong UNITED and TAYA
My love for the Hillsong community continues in this hidden gem on UNITED's Empires album. I'll get straight to the point as Taya does so beautifully in this melody. "Even When It Hurts" is probably the most candid song I've heard coming out of this church and for that reason, it has been my long-term anthem.
From someone who normally thinks the parenthetical additions to song titles are ridiculously unnecessary, I am here to tell you that this one changed my mind. "Praise Song" is such a simply accurate description of this melody, and it is a turnaround from the pain acknowledged in the lyrics: "Even when it hurts like hell, I'll praise You." Oh Lord, yes, we will. "Even when I have no song, I'll praise You." And, oh, readers, yes, He will.
God will provide us with a song if we lift our voices first and only in praise. He carries us through, no matter how we feel. I can tell you right now, I did a sub-stellar job of adding any meaning to this song, but that's because of how much it already means to me. I can't quite articulate it, but I know the communal passion of this melody has accompanied me through some of this year's hardest moments. You will choose to praise Him even when it hurts. So, praise Him, you won’t regret it.
"Too Good to Not Believe" by Bethel Music and Brandon Lake
"There is beauty in what I can't understand." What a sentence. I wholeheartedly admit that I have yet to come to terms with this statement and only by continual surrender will I ever remotely reach that point. I don't have to agree with His plan, but I can't deny that it's happening. I don't have to pretend I see the path in front of me, but I certainly can't ignore the miracles I have passed on the way.
Singer-songwriter Brandon Lake, a member of the Maverick City Music collective, sings God heals because He loves. Not to receive anything in return, for He is not a human with twisted intentions. God is so high above that we can barely fathom His intention. For this reason, I hold an appreciation that, along with the rest of the Bethel Music worship collective, Brandon has funneled His great works into the song, “Too Good to Not Believe.” The song has tangible lyrics with real-life happenings we might not imagine, but with enough trust in God, we can certainly believe.
"Firm Foundation (He Won't)" by Cody Carnes and Chandler Moore
This energetic anthem works perfectly to mark the halfway point of this article. Worship artists Chandler Moore and Cody Carnes bounce off each other's enthusiasm expertly in this melody that made my Top 10 list for good reason. The most unscripted part of this song is ironically—but predictably—my favorite: the "Let's go" ad-lib.
I haven't watched the live video enough to know who makes that exclamation, but I am certain of its standing as my favorite part. The moment is such a beautiful depiction of the freedom we have in Jesus. Let's go, believers. Let's go worship our Lord. "He won't fail."
"Sails" by Pat Barrett, Steffany Gretzinger, and Amanda Lindsey Cook
I’m a huge fan of Bethel Music worship artists Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook. And Christian contemporary artist Pat Barrett is just forever ingrained into my mind as the "Build My Life" song-master, with no one to say otherwise. I was ecstatic when I stumbled across this collaboration on YouTube.
"Here I am/Here you are." Isn't that so true? I browsed the comments section on this video and, mixed with some incredible testimonies, I found Pat's thoughtful addition: "Let out the sails again. I promise it's worth it." Would you consider letting out your sails again? Giving the reins back to the Lord? Acknowledging the reins are in His hands? And that no rain can wash away His path for your life? These are His intentions for you. "This is just the beginning of a new way of living with You," Steffany sings. Allow Him to shape this new way as you listen today; no matter your situation, it will be worth it.
"Forever YHWH" by Elevation Worship and Tiffany Hudson
This was yet another melody that I fell in love with at a youth group service. And my adoration toward the song only deepened when Elevation Worship released their Live from the Loft edition. This song is difficult to sing (believe me, I've tried). Moving on to the lyrics though, their simplicity is what gets me every time. Beginning with references to the many names of our Lord, then transitioning to full-out worship, every moment feels purely God-centered and Jesus-shaped. As it should be.
"Worthy You were/Worthy You are/And worthy You will be forever Yahweh," the bridge proclaims. Worship is meant to be exactly this: letting go of our desires and faults to focus our attention on Jesus and how beyond-any-descriptive-adjective incredible He is. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on His presence today. Ask Him for a fresh perspective of all He has done for you. I guarantee you that no matter your singing ability, you'll soon be worshiping His name with all you have as well.
"Lovesick" by Housefires and Elyssa Smith
This song came as a recommendation from a friend. What I adore about this song is the bridge: "There's no lovesick you won't heal/There's no desperate you won't fill/I am falling deeper still for You." These words were sung over me as I listened to the song repeatedly. And, after many listens, I believed them. God doesn’t make His children cry out in vain. It’s not in His character to ignore those He loves, and it never will be. I pray you can rest in that truth today.
"Whole Heart" by Passion
“Whole Heart” is a complete summer camp nostalgia for me from my early preteen years. I remember coming home after a week's worth of moving worship and not knowing what to do with myself. I wondered, “Does God still see me?” Would He still see my minuscule contributions to the world, or would He ignore it in favor of some other collective doing more monumental work?
I was sitting on the couch in the wee hours of the early morning, cradled around an ancient tablet, blasting this song through my earbuds. Through the lyrics, He spoke to me about His character: "Your love/It comes with no conditions/You give us Your whole heart/My hope/Is in the blood of Jesus/I know who I am/Because of who You are."
The chorus became my life motto for a time, and now, as I reflect on the song’s melody, I realize that it still is. Because even in the years since I had this God encounter, I see that He’s still the Heavenly Father who gives me His whole heart with no holding back.
I want to conclude on this note because, in 10 years, these songs are going to be considered classics. The last song I featured, in a way, already is. Nonetheless, our salvation in Jesus will never change and I pray that this consistent, firm foundation will provide you with a stable hope for today. He is with you, and He will never fail.
Selena Schulz is NRT’s youngest staff contributor. She loves God, music, reading, and writing.
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