Songs for Worship: How do we find the BEST songs in a pool of hundreds of new songs?
As you begin searching for the best new songs to introduce to your congregation, remember that your church’s worship DNA is not the same as the church down the street or the one you watch on YouTube. Knowing your congregation is vitally important to choosing the right songs. The first step in finding great songs for worship is discovering the possibilities. Today, I will give you sources to search for songs that might work at your church. Next week, we will begin to discuss filters to determine if the song is right for your congregation.
Sources for Modern Worship Songs
Browsing through the most popular/best-sellers to find the most used songs in churches today. This provides a pool of POTENTIAL songs. We will look in the next weeks at how to filter these to select the best ones for your congregation.
- Discover the CCLI top 100 songs. Particularly note the NEW top 100 SBC songs. Check out the lists with audio.
- Look at LifeWayWorship.com. Note their “Best Sellers.”
- Browse and listen to music at PraiseCharts.com. Note their top lists as well.
- To make the three areas above easier for you, we compile a weekly list of the top 20 songs from CCLI, LifeWay Worship and PraiseCharts. Check out the weekly “Top 20 Worship Songs” —your weekly worship vitamin. A bonus is that audio links are provided for all the CCLI songs. TopWorshipSongs.org
- Get recommendations from other worship leaders. Find leaders at churches similar to your church and see what is resonating with their congregation.
- Listen to worship song-based Christian radio stations. Some of the popular songs on the radio are suitable for congregational singing, but some are NOT. We will discuss this in upcoming articles. If a large percentage of your congregation listens to Christian radio, introducing some of these songs will find quicker learning.
- Attend worship conferences and other worship events. Follow up (find the source) immediately on great songs you hear in these settings that might work in yours
- Check out Song Discovery, a service of Worship Leader Magazine.
Contemporary Arrangements of Older Hymns
Keeping the same tune and lyrics, contemporary arrangements provide a fresh, usually more band-driven approach to the timeless hymns. Often these breathe new life into old hymns.
- LifeWayWorship.com has an immense catalog of contemporary arrangements of traditional hymns. Go to FIND MUSIC and click CONTEMPORARY HYMN in the SHOW ONLY section and listen to the arrangements. Realize that some hymns have multiple arrangements.
- HymnCharts.com has a large catalog of over 150 hymn arrangements in contemporary styling with tremendous resources including many multitrack to support the arrangements. You can find many of these arrangements with fewer supporting products on PraiseCharts.com.
- PraiseCharts.com also has a number of contemporary hymn arrangements to search through. Be sure to check out their PraiseHymns series.
Today’s hymn writers are producing some great songs for our congregations that are theologically rich and very singable. Here are some great sources to check out. Many of these songs can also be found on LifeWayWorship.com and PraiseCharts.com to give you full support products.
Share your sources for finding songs
Add any sources you have found useful to the comments section to help others.
I may add your contributions to the post as well. Thanks!
Information about this series
In this series, I will work comprehensively through many areas that we need to consider in helping our congregations voice their worship and praise. Some of the areas I will discuss are:
- How do we find the BEST songs in a pool of hundreds of news songs?
- How do we filter possible songs to see if they are suitable for our congregation, knowing that every congregation has its unique DNA?
- How do we introduce new songs in a way that will capture the hearts of our people and help them adopt the song as their own expression of worship?
- Why is the original, artist version of a song usually not a good idea for our congregation?
- How many songs should be on rotation in our church–i.e. how many songs should be on our song list from which we plan worship?
- How do we help our congregations REALLY sing the songs (active participants) in worship rather than be spectators?
- What does the song repertoire look like in a church that seeks to be unified/multigenerational?
There is so much to unpack here, but I invite you to journey with me as we sincerely seek to be the best worship leaders we can be in helping our congregations truly worship.