“Seeking You as a precious jewel, Lord, to give up I’d be a fool. You are my all in all!”
I don’t know about you, but this list has been long in the making for me, and has changed a good 5 dozen times or so. The problem is that certain Classics come back to you when you least expect it, or you are holding out to see if the new devo song that’s “in” these days will actually pass the test of time. But I figured it was high time to evaluate and just commit. I want to start by saying that I am confident that (most) of our hymns, songs of praise, and devotional songs are a pleasing aroma to the Lord, when sung from the heart (Eph. 5:18-20, Col. 3:16, 2 Cor. 2:15). But there is a reason God gave us personalities, differences, and opinions. Therefore, I wanted to put out a list of my favorite songs that meet this criterion. Those specific ones that have inspiring lyrics, motivational melodies, and have played a big part of influencing me personally. Because of the subjectivity of the task, I am positive that there will be many who may differ with my choices, but I think you will appreciate (hopefully) most of them.
Before we get to The 10, here is a list of a few of the nearly hundreds of Honorable Mentions that JUST missed ranking: I Stand in Awe, Ten Thousand Angels, The Lord’s My Shepherd, Hallelujah! What A Savior, Amazing Grace, As The Deer, Come Share the Lord, We Shall Assemble, I Am a Sheep, and Sanctuary.
10. 10,000 Reasons
So, that numbering worked out pretty well. Though I will say I had initially went with Shine, Jesus, Shine for my last slot. While I love them both, I feared 10,000 Reasons may be a bit new and not as dependable as the latter, but I have a hunch this one will last. This inspiring, upbeat, and encouraging song of thanks and praise to the Lord is one that has made an impact on many for the last few years, and it shows no signs of going away soon. If you make it to a Youth Rally, or Bible Camp this Summer, chances are this will be a go to of yours.
9. Master The Tempest is Raging
I’ll admit it, this one won’t be on many of your lists, I would presume. It has a very old fashioned, nearly theatrical/Shakespearean vibe and language to it (how my Sister-In-Law described it) that definitely sets it apart in the crowd. But for me, it is for those very reasons, as well as the comforting message, that make it one I’ve marveled at from a young age (I’d say 6-7 years old). So, while it is one of the oldest sounding choices, it is also one that I’ve admired probably the longest.
8. It Is Well with My Soul
Few Hymns have as deeply a personal and heart-wrenching backstory as that of It Is Well with My Soul. If you do not yet know the backstory by the hymnist Horatio Spafford, that really ought to be remedied. The true emotion, despair, and ultimate trust in God ought to bring everyone to tears. As a personal note, I have always wished we’d sung it as it is written, but leave out the final chorus. Because the final verse ends on such a sobering and uplifting note that I feel the chorus repeated kind of takes away. Like I said, a strange personal preference…
7. Farther Along
Hopefully this doesn’t come across as offensive, but this is one of the few songs that really ought to be sung with a heart of “southern-emphasis” (if you will). It may sound odd, but boy does it sound right when done appropriately. Not only that, but it’s uplifting reminder that we needn’t understand everything in the heat of the moment, but rather trust in God and He’ll make the “why” known when He sees fit, is extremely relevant. “We’ll understand it all by and by…”
6. You Are My All in All
Back in the early 2000’s, this was the first “Devo” song I was introduced to (though now it is nearly called “old fashioned”). I suppose why it made such an impact on me was that it was one of the first songs I’d heard that separates the man and woman’s parts into various areas of the song (there’s got to be an official musical term for that…but I haven’t the slightest idea). When done right (which I have found in present years is rare), the song, and its beautifully crafted words of praise, make for a breathtaking reminder of God’s love.
5. Lamb of God
Eventually all my descriptions for the pinnacle and beautiful songs of praise to the Lord are going to start sounding repetitive, but oh well. I don’t know what it is about the metaphor of Lamb of God that seems to prick us more than most. While Prince of Peace, King of Glory, Savior, and other such metaphors are beautiful and awe-worthy, there is something about the term Lamb of God that just sets well with us. It sees Jesus at His most pure and innocent, yet most caring and sacrificial. And no melody combined with such lyrics could have been crafted any finer.
4. Be Thou My Vision
Yet another one that just might hit closer to the heart for me personally, but boy is it ever a brilliant spectacle. It’s one of those songs I used to like, but it was just kind of a “filler” song of sorts. Over the last few years, however, its rich message of our relationship with God, as well as the desire and struggle to become more like Him throughout your life, is incredibly poignant. It’s melody likewise, while subtle, is a stirring and beautiful piece that matches the lyrics perfectly. If you want to hear a fantastic rendition of it, check out Onevoice’s version here.
3. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Speaking of stirring, has your congregation sung this amazing tune lately? It’s so easy to get caught up in yourself, in your possessions, and in your own interests, is it not? What this song does so brilliantly is remind you that earthly and worldly things are but dust in the wind compared to the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It’s slow and almost timid progression leading to the final words of, “Love so amazing, so divine; demands my soul, my life, my all” usually leaves my spine tingling. It is indeed an epic display of reverence, to put it simply.
2. The Greatest Command (Love One Another)
The simplest song on the list (merely combining sections of 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13), but sometimes those are the most powerful ones, as is the case here. While there are great examples of 4 part songs, such as the stunning Magnificat (which just missed being ranked), as well as Someday. But, in my version of the universe, this one easily takes the cake. I have often said, and I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination much, but this one will sound absolutely marvelous in Paradise.
1. In Christ Alone
Ah, now we get to #1. I remember the first time hearing this song was at a devo when I was a teen, someone said it aloud and the group sang. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had to change that. I ran the kid down and asked him the title, and since then I’ve been trying to perfect the high note near the end of each verse (to nearly no avail). What a song this is. I can confidently say that no song better describes the life, love, and sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated, and still demonstrates today. If you are ever feeling down, listen to this, read the lyrics, or just sing it aloud. It should remind you what a great God you serve, and will usually leave you in chills, and occasionally tears.
Did I happen to miss a favorite of yours? If so, you have my deepest condolences. Thanks for reading though! Let me know what you think in the comments. Regardless though, hopefully we all take the time to see what these songs are all about, giving praise to our Father, and building up one another. As I said before, I truly believe we should be excited that we’re most likely going to be singing these songs for all eternity. If by some chance I am wrong about which ones, then my guess is we’re in for a larger-than-life treat.
P.S. Twenty One Pilot’s new song “Heathens” is grand (and while it sounds kind of bleak, it has some cool and interesting messages throughout)!