Top 10 Hymns

The two churches that I’m serving are having fabulous (if I do say so myself!) worship services on Sunday.  After celebrating the crossing of the Red Sea last week, this week we are going to sing together in response to God’s grace, just as Miriam, Moses, and the Israelites did.  Our Sing to the Lord! service will feature the top ten hymns voted on by each congregation.

I didn’t vote.  I figured that since I get to vote every week, then it wasn’t right for me to participate.

But as we’ve tallied the votes, I have had some big surprises!  Several of the songs in the top 10 have made me go, “REALLY? That’s your FAVORITE?”

Some of the songs I have never really liked but am now growing to tolerate as I hum them around the house and research their origins (“In the Garden” would be one of these…. I am happy to say that I no longer actively dislike it.)

Most of them, however, are songs that I like but would not put into my top ten.  For example, there’s nothing wrong with “Amazing Grace,” but it’s a bit overdone… what makes it a favorite over so many other good choices?

So, dissatisfied with the crowd-sourced lists, I came up with my own Top 10.  We won’t be singing them on Sunday, but I’ve been humming them all day…

 The rules are that they had to be in the United Methodist Hymnal (1989) – so no “The Summons” or “She Comes Sailing on the Wind” or other fabulous hymns from The Faith We Sing hymnal.

My second rule for myself was that it has to be a song that consistently makes my heart thrill to hear/sing it.

Doesn’t this video make your heart thrill?


And my third rule (this as I begin narrowing down my list from 20 to 10) was that I had to be able to sing at least one verse by heart.

And so now… not in any significant order:

  • And Can It Be that I Should Gain (UMH 363)
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today (UMH 302)
  • God, Whose Love Is Reigning O’er Us (UMH 100)
  • Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (UMH 127)/ God of Grace and God of Glory (UMH 577) (I’m combining these because evidently it’s the tune I like!)
  • For All the Saints (UMH 711)
  • Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending (UMH 718)
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (UMH 384)
  • And Are We Yet Alive (UMH 553)
  • Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (UMH 400)
  • Joy to the World (UMH 246)

I made a list that included double this number of hymns, and I was surprised as I found myself cutting hymns that were *definitely* my favorite fifteen years ago:

  • Lord of the Dance (UMH 261)
  • Hymn of Promise (UMH 707)
  • Here I Am, Lord (UMH 593)

For this time in my life, they no longer give me that same thrill that they once did.  I still love them, but—especially with “Here I Am, Lord”—I am no longer moved to tears by them OR inspired to dance by them (Don’t worry, “Lord of the Dance,” I still think that you should be sung allegrissimo!).

Out of the 20 hymns selected by the two congregations (14 distinct hymns, since six of the hymns overlapped), precisely zero were by Charles Wesley.

How many did good ol’ Charles write on my list?  Five.  Perhaps we’ll have a Wesley hymn sing in the future 🙂

There is a good chance, however, that I am currently drawn towards hymns that my congregations don’t know because I know it will be a lot of work to get us to sing them.

Okay, enough commentary!  That’s my list.  How does your list compare??

POSTSCRIPT: Rambing Anna played!  Let me know if you blogged your top ten hymns, and I’ll link to you, too!

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3 Responses to Top 10 Hymns

  1. I ditto all your choices, particularly, And Can it Be, which, on my list is also tops…

    Three other favorite Wesleyan hymns that I would consider alongside the aforementioned, although I wouldn’t bump any of yours except maybe with this first selection:
    Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus UMH 196
    Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies UMH 173
    Blest Be the Dear Uniting Love UMH 566

    Two non-CW hymns I absolutely love and would definitely be on my top-ten list:
    Christ is Risen UMH 307* – it gives me goosebumps thinking about shouting, I mean, lustily singing the line, “Tell its grim demonic chorus: “Christ is risen! Get you gone!”
    Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming UMH 216

    Thanks for the fun exercise! Have a great Sunday!

    *Also, its tune counterpart for Christmas, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly UMH 229

    • La Peregrina says:

      I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar with Brian Wren’s “Christ is Risen” until you pointed it out this morning. I will have to add that to the Easter repertoire 🙂 It’s amazing what a different feel that same tune has when sung with “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” (which I always thought of more as a lullaby) and with the “Christ is Risen” lyrics.

      “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” very nearly made it into my top ten… it got bumped by “Lo, He Comes” because I love how the latter bridges the end & beginning of the liturgical calendar… I would love (if my congregations knew it!) to end Christ the King Sunday with “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending” and then the following week begin the service with it… reminding ourselves of the eschatological hope of Advent.

  2. James A says:

    I’m not ready to list my top 10 yet (still ruminating), but I was pleased to see Isaac Watts made your list! “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” is one of my favorites, and will likely make my Top 10, but my #1 with a star is “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” also by the great “Doctor Watts.” Clearly we all owe a great debt to 18th Century British Congregationalism.

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