Top 20 Worship Songs

Top 20 Worship Songs of the Past 20 Years:
We could sit here for ages giving qualifiers for a list of top worship songs. But you are either going to be okay it, or you will be upset by it. So, without giving too much space to mitigation, let us offer this one little bit—we would never dream of measuring quality of worship. Please think better of us. But picking our favorite songs over the last two decades? Yes we can do that.

Continuing our 20th anniversary celebration, here are our picks for the top 20 worship songs in the past 20 years. Leave a comment to offer your song suggestions. 

20. “Days of Elijah,” Robin Mark
Behold he comes
Riding on a cloud
Shining like the sun
At the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice
It’s the year of jubilee
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes

19. “Heart of Worship,” Matt Redman
When the music fades
And all is stripped away

18. “Revelation Song,” Jennie Lee Riddle
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You

17. “He Knows My Name,” Tommy Walker
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go

16. “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble,” Martin Smith
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

15. “Holy Is the Lord,” Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio
We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He

14. “How He Loves,” John Mark McMillan
We are his portion and he is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…
He loves us,
Whoa! How he loves us.

13. “O Praise Him (All This for a King),” David Crowder
Turn your ear
To heaven and hear
The noise inside

12. “Breathe,” Marie Barnett
And I, I’m desperate for you
And I, I’m lost without you

11. “Everlasting God,” Brenton Brown, Ken Riley
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

10. “Friend of God,” Israel Houghton, Michael Gungor
Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That you hear me
When I call

9. “Majesty (Here I Am),” Stuart Garrard, Martin Smith
Your grace has found me just as I am

Empty handed, but alive in your hands

8. “In Christ Alone,” Stuart Townend, Keith Getty
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

7. “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” Paul Baloche
Pour out Your power and love 

As we sing holy, holy, holy

6. “Blessed Be Your Name,” Matt Redman, Beth Redman
Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

5. “Beautiful Things,” Michael Gungor, Lisa Gungor
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

4. “Here I Am to Worship,” Tim Hughes
And I’ll never know how much it cost
to see my sin upon that cross

3. “Shout to the Lord,” Darlene Zschech
… all the earth let us sing
power and majesty, praise to the king

2. “How Great Is Our God,” Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves
He wraps himself in Light,
and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice

1. “Mighty to Save,” Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

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    68 comments on “Top 20 Worship Songs

    1. Pingback: Top 20 Worship Songs | Parkway Worship Ministry

    2. Hmm, not sure about “Beautiful Things” at #5 or “O Praise Him” at #13. The others are OK, although many would not be in my personal top 20. The absence of “Casting Crowns” and “MercyMe” is surprising; “I Can Only Imagine”? “Who Am I?” And what about Third Day? And “Redeemer” by Nicole C. Mullen? “Above All”? But overall, a good list.

      • Great suggestions DJ. All of them were actually brought up when this list was finalized. However, we felt those artists had more of an influence from a radio standpoint than a house of worship one (MercyMe, Third Day, Casting Crowns, etc.) “I can only imagine” is the one that has the most validity, but we still kind of see that one of falling more on the radio side than the congregational one. … But umm, weren’t you in the room next to us when this list was chosen? A little heads up would have been nice =)

        • Although “I CAN ONLY IMAGINE” is a great song, it is neither about worshiping God nor is it about Gods love for us or our love for Him.
          That being said ‘I CAN ONLY IMAGINE ” is an iconic song.

    3. Yeah, I also wonder about “Beautiful Things”. I’ve never heard of this song, nor has it been anywhere the CCLI Top 100 that I know of. I’m listening to it on youtube as I type – it’s a beautiful song, but not sure I could agree about its influence on worship in the last 20 years.

      Anyhoo, the rest I can totally see.

      • Beautiful things was a huge song at intervarsity worship at my university. We also sing it at a camp I help with for area kids who have been abused or neglected. To hear their voices singing that they are beautiful because God makes beautiful things from us is a truly life-altering experience. I am sk glad beautiful things made the list.

    4. I see the sense of most of the choices. If the criteria is the impact on the church then certainly that’s seen by the fact that many of these songs are still regularly part of worship sets. I’m also one of those who wonder about ‘Beautiful Things’ and although I’m at risk of being exiled to the island of misfit worship leaders, ‘How He Loves’ (not my favorite both lyrically and musically). The songs though seem to fall in a basic music category with the exception being ‘Friend of God’. I would recommend ‘Ancient of Days’. It comes from a strong biblical foundation, has a great R’nB groove to it, and who could argue with ‘Blessing and Power, Glory and Honor be unto the Ancient of Days’.

    5. As far as the songs on the list, I think they are all good. I don’t know if Beautiful Things should be on that list…yet. It is an amazing song, but we are talking over the past 20 years. You leave out a ton of songs that should be there. Obviously narrowing it down to 20 means some songs are getting snubbed.

    6. yeah, a pretty accurate list. agree with the questioning about Beautiful Things at #5, I’ve heard all the songs below it used over and over again in worship, but have only heard Beautiful Things led once in worship in all the churches, and conferences I’ve been to. Still a great song, but don’t know how it ended up number 5 in the last 20 years. would have thought Come Now Is the Time to Worship would be up there.

    7. I love Gungor’s “Beautiful Things”, but I agree that there are other songs that probably have had a much broader congregational impact such as “Hosanna” by Fraser or even “Our God”.
      I personally think “Above All” should be on this list :)
      Great list though! Thanks for posting!

    8. Beautiful things???????? Personally…..I would have put Shout to the Lord at number 1. That is the song that truly changed this generation of worshippers. Before that song church music still had a hymn feel to it and it was someone else’s music that we were singing. After that song worship had a more modern style that people could identify with and it became our voice and it really took our true worship to a whole other level. Great choices on all of the songs :)

      • I think Beahtiful Things is appropriate because it’s a glimpse into the future of worship stylistically. Or it’s an example of a solid worship song which breaks the mold. I may be so bold as to say its the next generation’s Shout To The Lord.

    9. I like the list although there were things at the bottom I’d have put at the top. Have done all but Beautiful Things at church. Haven’t done that one because I was not sure how it would be received in my church. Would not have had Beautiful Things at 5. Not pickin’ but can’t think of a Mercy Me or Casting Crowns song that would make the cut.

      Coulda been more Crowder, just sayin’

    10. I agree with most of the list, especially the top 3. They are definitely some of the most influential worship songs of our generation. I also have to ask how ‘beautiful things’ made the list, especially as #5. I’ve heard it on the radio, but never in a church service. But more than any other I would not put ‘Friend of God’ on the list. I know more people who dislike that song than like it. And Revelation Song would have been higher on my list. Most of these are worthy to be in the top 20 though.

      • I agree with your reservations about “Friend of God” – I don’t program this one because of the “I” focus of the song. Though I mean no disrespect to Israel Houghton and Michael Gungor, my alternate first line would be: “Who am I that I should sing about me?” I know the response: it’s not really about us, it’s about God loving and valuing us. Even so, I’ll pass.

        I also wouldn’t have “Heart of Worship” on my list, because we as a congregation have tried NOT to stray from the focus of worship, so it doesn’t make sense to sing about “coming back” to that which we haven’t left. But that’s just us. I do understand why it was included.

        “Agnus Dei”, “At the Cross” (Hillsong), “Come, People of the Risen King”, and “Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear)” would be on my list, along with “O the Deep, Deep Love” (Kauflin).

    11. For me, most of them is in a fair position. I just miss “I See The Lord” (Don Moen) recorded by Ron Kenoly, ” Above All” (Paul Baloche) e Agnus Dei (Michael. W. Smith)

    12. The list seems to favor songs that are five or so years old. So what were we singing in 1992? That’s easy… the runaway CCLI #1 for much of first half of this period: “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.” But it’s not on this list. Doesn’t sheer amount of use in churches count for something?

    13. I agree with a lot of the choices and like DJ above, I question How He Loves which musically is a disaster for corporate worship and lyrics, just too secular. I have sung Beautiful Things once and I don’t remember it which for me is unusual so…and I would have loved more songs with Scripture and extolling the wonderful qualities of the entire Trinity and a bit less of “I” and “me” which seems to be a little too central in a lot of our worship songs today. “In Christ Alone” or “How Great Is Our God” reminds me of what true worship lyrics are really about. I also feel like many of these songs are choices because they lead a worship set more than perhaps stand alone? I’ll join DJ on the island of misfits for How He Loves–I just can’t get by the sloppy kiss with this song– God is worthy of so much more!

      • Cyndy is correct. I grow really weary of the I/me stuff in many worship songs. When I lead the congregation in worship, my job is to take them to the throne room where they can bask in adoration, not talk about I/me all the time.

        Sometimes I think we confuse songs for personal worship and meditation with appropriate congregational worship songs. I don’t think the average congregant cares too much about how I feel, what I think, or how good God has been to me. A slight paraphrase: “Sir, they would see Jesus.”

        I guess I, too, am on the the island of misfit worship leaders…

        • I beg to differ. Worship is ideally communal, but Salvation as Jesus intends it is intensely personal. When I shout out praise to the Most High, it is from the depths of my individual heart which the Lord knows by name.

    14. Only a few of these songs I am not familiar with. The ones I do know are great choices and we do most of them on our worship team. My favorites are the ones that glorified God the most as they are the ones that move our congregation to enter His presence. The best place to be. This was a great idea!
      Dar

    15. Any song that connects a person to God directly or indirectly will be on that persons list of favorites.
      Thanks for sharing your list.

    16. I definitely agree about Beautiful Things being a bit out of place in this list. It almost seems an attempt to promote the song more than anything else since it is still so new. Many new songs may have a great initial impact and I don’t predict this one will stand the test of time, even though its a good song. I can think of literally dozens of songs I would rank above Beautiful Things.
      Regarding the criteria, since these are the top 20 Worship songs, it certainly WOULD mean impact on the church, and by that I think top worship songs would mean songs that the church SINGS and not just listens to.
      I think most of the songs are good representations.

    17. This whole excersize is full of pitfalls. Praise music has it’s biggest impact when the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. Twenty worshiper’s could name twenty songs that have moved them, and each would be valid. I’ve been laid-out by “Fairest Lord Jesus”.

    18. I would also not have included “Beautiful Things”, or “How He Loves” in my list, for the same reasons already mentioned. And I agree that “lord I Lift Your Name On High” should be there. I know it is hard to be objective, and I probably am letting my personal favorites have a little too much weight, but I would have included “from The Inside Out” by Joel Houston for sure. That being said, it really is hard to know how the more recent songs will stand up over time. I, and our congregation, are moved to deep worship just as many times by the “I, me, my” kind of songs as by the “high worship” ones. (“Friend Of God”,for example). All in all, though, this is a very good effort to do the nearly imposible, get us all to agree on just 20 songs.

    19. What a great project, getting us all to think of worship songs. I’m sitting here listening to them all and feeling fantastic, thanks.

      There are so many wonderful songs, I agree, being limited to 20 is hard.
      I would like to add a ‘what she said’ to Cyndy WarnierI, my sentiments exactly, and add:
      I know “You are my all in all” – Nicole Nordeman is simple, but I’ve sung it a LOT in recent years at church.

      Anyway, I wonder – can Chris Tomlin’s rework of Amazing Grace (my chains are gone) be considered in the 20 year category? Our severely disabled son LOVES this song and responds to it like God is talking to him. (I love it too – most connect with it).

    20. I’m sorry. I feel it necessary to repeat myself. In case you didnt catch my reply. Beautiful things is fantastic for this list right where it was placed high but not too high, again because it is I believe where God is taking the church. It can be congregational, but admittedly not all congregations are ready for it. Just like if we were to have done Our God twenty years ago. For sure, we would have had quite a bit more pull back from congregants on that one as not being congregational friendly. Just my meager two cents!

      • And no I am not affiliated with the band or the creators of this list. Just figured siince there was so much push back against that decsion I couldn’t sit silent without defending it :).

        • Let me tell you what it is like to lead a group of young people in “How He Loves.” It is like the flood gates of heaven open and God’s love pours out, and hearts are filled with joy, peace, and awe at what Jesus did for us. I am not a super experienced guitar player, so I play it in G, with a simple swing, but it is incredibly beautiful to experience. I would encourage you to try it!

          I will add that before we sing it the first time (I lead a group that changes each year) I talk about the words and what they mean because I want them to know what they are singing.

          For example: “We are His portion and He is our prize“
          This is straight out of Scripture (Deuteronomy 32:9; Philippians 3:14). We Christians are the portion given to Jesus Christ by the Father (John 6:37; 17:6). Christ Himself is the prize that awaits those who live for him. etc.

      • Love “Beautiful Things” but would not include it in the top 20.
        Our congregation does enjoy hearing this song though.

        Also, our band has played, “How He Loves” for quite a while now and they enjoy this song, too.

    21. “Beautiful Things” as the number five worship song in the last 20 years??????? a little premature I say – can it really withstand time-tested longevity in comparison to the many other great worship songs we know? – I doubt it – I think it’s a great song – but not #5 – I wonder what would be your subscribers’ top 20 it they were surveyed??

    22. I would agree with most of the selections but I would have put How Great Is Our God and Shout To The Lord 1 and 2. There are so many great songs that could have been considered. Another one is God Of Wonders. Overall a great list.

    23. Beautiful Things doesn’t have the reach or pedigree to be on this list. It simply has not been a strong anchor song in worship for most churches. Great song written by a guy with questionable doctrine. Email him and ask him what he thinks of Jesus rising from the dead after being crucified, if it that literally took place or if he thinks it was just a literary device. His answer may shock you.

      “Draw me Close to You” was a pretty strongly used song 15 years ago; that and “I can Sing of Your Love Forever” definitely had stronger influence than others like “How He Loves”. I do like the Crowder version and the Flyleaf version of the lyrics of that song, but “sloppy wet kiss” is a phrase that does not belong in corporate worship. It’s distracting and vulgar, far beneath being a suitable expression of the glorious passion of Christ for his bride.

      • Really? The whole sloppy wet kiss thing? Maybe it’s distracting and vulgar to you but obviously it has struck a chord with many people, so much so that it has made it on to the top 20 worship songs of the past 20 years. The lyric doesn’t really work for me and is distracting to me too and I would never lead this song in my church; however, I would never judge another’s heart if they chose to do so. Just get over it.

      • Sloppy wet kiss is quite simply a visual representation. Sometimes we as the church like to be super abstract and not really tie anything into something people can actually realize.

        “Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss”

        This is about the collection of God’s pursuance of us as we pursue Him. Even though it may be messy, it is always loving and passionate. I always like to think of little kids kissing their mom. That unconditional love that just ends up all kinds of messy but just as beautiful. It is about that.

        Vulgarity is something that is personal. It’s how you look at it. I choose to look at it for the symbolism and realize that it really makes something quite abstract concrete. I’ve seen some incredible worship moments tied to this song.

    24. I have always been inspired by efforts to review the list of songs that have made a great impact on the church over a period of time and I really appreciate yours too.I use to go through the CCLI list to update my knowledge of such great songs and I have found to my interest some of those songs on your list.Thank you…As a Christian who lives in Nigeria,some of the submissions above may not be currently applicable to us here as it takes time for a number of these songs to find their way into the congregational worship list here but somehow,sometimes they do come.It will therefore be difficult for me to go with a particular list,However worship music here has been enriched by some of the songs you have listed and I encourage you to keep up the good work.
      May The Lord draw us closer to Him much more in intimate worship.AMEN.

    25. I agree with most of the sentiments already expressed. For all of you disagreeing with “How He Loves Us” being on this list, John Mark McMillan himself would agree with you in this disagreement. He did not write that song to be a worship song at all. The story behind this song is really amazing, as well as the impact it has had, especially on youth. The short version of the story is that one of JMM’s best friends (who was a youth leader and said that he would give anything for this generation)died in a car accident. This song was born out of JMM’s grieving process, and reflects some of the things he learned about God through that process.

    26. Pretty heavily weighted to the last 5-7 years. Revelation Song? Great song but hasn’t been sung long enough to warrant a top 20.

      • I think it’s been sung more than enough at churches to warrant a spot on that list, even a higher spot I would say!

    27. This list kinda has an interesting feel for the last 20 years. I feel the majority of it is to new to be classic but a little to old to stay contemporary (or they are just over used). 20 years is an eternity in the realm of contemporary worship simply because it has changed incredibly over the last 20 years. Also, there are so many models of what “contemporary” worship is, it’s hard to tie it in. I’d really like to see a top 20 of the last year, now that would be interesting to see.

    28. I know many people have said it but I thought I’d say it too. I love Gungor. I listen to them more than any artist on this list. But Beautiful Things is an odd choice. I do not think that a congregation grabs that song like so many others on the list. Sometimes I wonder if WL is trying a little too hard with a Gungor grab or I just don’t know what the list is actually about.

    29. Pingback: Worship Leader Magazine’s Top 20 Worship Songs Of The Past 20 Years | mgpcpastor's blog

    30. Agree with many of the songs. Shout to the Lord should be #1. Lord I lift Your name on High was written in 1989, so it can’t qualify for this list, but God of Wonders should definately be here.

    31. Hehe – we could do the top 25 of the last 25 years, to include “Lord I Lift Your Name on High”, “Shine Jesus Shine”, and some others…

    32. Just a quick note: Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” is often played at live youth venues. I first heard it at a LIFE (C&MA) Conference and it definitely moved the hearts of our youth group and the other 9,000+ present. It’s a song the grows on you the more you listen to it. Glad it made the list. Although, I must add, that for a top 20 of the past 20 years, this list is a unique set of choices.

    33. Beautiful Things seems to be a hot topic here. I like the song (especially as a fellow Coloradan). In fact, it became kind of a camp anthem at our Sr High camp last summer. But has anyone noticed that the melodic hook is nearly exactly the same as Boloche’s Glorious. I’ve yet to convince the worship leaders I play with to do a mashup.

    34. I think that instead of trying to tear this list apart, we should all take the time to listen and reflect on what God is using them to say. When we get to arguments about rating certain worship songs, we’re losing the meaning of the songs themselves. You cannot completely and accurately judge the amount of impact worship has on an individual. Each song has a message from God, how can we overlook that?

      • If you were literate enough to read through it all, they meant overall; not one person. Plus no one was “tearing it apart”. People like you should get bent, don’t need ya; methinks…

    35. the most important thing when we say ‘praising and worshiping’ HIM is that we feel the presence of our God thru singing.. we give wholeheartedly, singing not just only with our voice but with our heart and our being.
      as the song of Matt Maher, THE HEART OF WORSHIP says, ” i’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is NOT what YOU have REQUIRED
      Yoy search much deeper within, through a way thingd apperar You’re LOOKING into my HEART..”
      see? God really wants your heart to sing for Him, and then you will feel like, oh He’s here ! i can feel Him.. He hears me. right at that very moment when you’ve just opened your eyes, your heart fills with joy because of His LOVE…

    36. Brooke Fraser’s “Hosanna in the Highest” with Hillsong United always leaves me feeling numb with wonder at God’s majesty. I would also have included “Ancient Words” by Michael W Smith, “Our Father” by Don Moen and Jesus Culture’s version of “Let it Rain.” And although it’s probably too recent to make the list, Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) rates at least a ‘Bubbling Under’ honorable mention.

    37. Pingback: Day #299 Worship Music - Character Development, Week #43 - Meaningfulmama.com

    38. i love this list its true because i went to other countries and noticed that most of the songs in this list seems that they know it all:)

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