Top 100 Hymns Against Top 100 Contemporary Praise Songs

Heart hands

A. W. Tozer said something in his that struck me:

Some old hymn books may yet be found in which the hymns have no names; a line in italics above each one indicates its theme, and the worshipping heart cannot but rejoice in what it finds: ‘God’s glorious perfections celebrated.’ ‘Wisdom, majesty and goodness.’ ‘Omniscience.’ ‘Omnipotence and immutability.’ ‘Glory, mercy and grace.’ These are a few examples take from a hymnbook published in 1849, but everyone familiar with Christian hymnody that the stream of sacred song takes its rise far back in the early years of the Church’s existence. From the beginning of belief in the perfection of God brought sweet assurance to believing men and taught the ages to sing.

I had hunch he was on to something, namely that contemporary worship has lost focus on the character of God. So I wanted to compare the top 100 hymns of old with contemporary praise songs.

But just by the titles alone.

While any list is subjective, I grabbed the hymns from . They conducted 18 months of research behind the list. The contemporary list comes from Praise Charts and is based upon .

Keep in mind, at this stage of the game the purpose of this exercise is to see if there is anything to Tozer’s statement based on titles alone. The list is in alphabetical order, and I removed the artist’s names from the list. Some of the contemporary songs will be remakes of old hymns.

The 100 Most Popular Christian Hymns

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Abide With Me

Alas And Did My Savior Bleed?

All Creatures of our God and King

All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name

All The Way My Savior Leads Me

Amazing Grace

Are You Washed in the Blood?

At Calvary


Battle Hymn of the Republic

Be Thou My Vision

Before The Throne of God Above

Blessed Assurance

Blest Be The Tie That Binds


Child of the King

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today

Cleanse Me

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Count Your Blessings

Crown Him With Many Crowns


Day By Day



Eternal Father, Strong To Save

Face To Face

Fairest Lord Jesus

Faith is the Victory

Faith of our Fathers

Fight the Good Fight


God Leads His Dear Children Along

God Will Take Care Of You

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

He Hideth My Soul

He Is Coming Again

He Lives

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

Holy, Holy, Holy

How Firm A Foundation

How Great Thou Art


I Am Thine, O Lord

I Love To Tell The Story

I Need Thee Ev’ry Hour

I Surrender All

I’d Rather Have Jesus

I’ll Fly Away

In the Garden

In The Hour of Trial

In The Sweet By and By

It is Well


Jesus, Lover Of My Soul

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus Paid It All

Just As I Am


Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Lord I’m Coming Home

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Love Lifted Me


Moment By Moment

More Love To Thee

Morning Has Broken

My Faith Looks Up To Thee


Nearer My God, To Thee

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

Now We Thank All Our God


O Come All Ye Faithful

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

O Holy Night

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Worship The King

Old Time Religion


Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior

Peace, Perfect Peace

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Precious Lord Take My Hand


Rescue The Perishing

Revive Us Again

Rock of Ages


Safe in the Arms of Jesus

Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Standing on the Promises


Take My Life and Let It Be

Take Time To Be Holy

The Old Rugged Cross

There Is A Fountain

There Is Power In The Blood

Till The Storm Passes By

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Trust And Obey


Victory In Jesus


What A Day That Will Be

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

What Child Is This?

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

When We All Get To Heaven

Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go

Yesterday, Today, Forever


Top 100 CCLI Songs This Period

Above All Agnus Dei

All Because Of Jesus

All Who Are Thirsty


Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

As The Deer

Awesome God

Awesome Is The Lord Most High


Beautiful One

Better Is One Day

Blessed Be Your Name



Came To My Rescue

Come Now Is The Time To Worship


Days Of Elijah

Desert Song

Draw Me Close



Everlasting God


Forever Open The Eyes Of My Heart

Forever Reign

Friend Of God

From The Inside Out


Give Thanks

Give Us Clean Hands

Glory To God Forever

God Of This City

God Of Wonders

Great Is Thy Faithfulness



Happy Day

He Is Exalted

He Knows My Name


Here I Am To Worship

Holy Is The Lord


Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

How Can I Keep From Singing

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

How Great Is Our God

How Great Thou Art

How He Loves



I Am Free

I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever

I Give You My Heart

I Love You Lord

I Will Follow

I Will Rise

In Christ Alone



Jesus Messiah

Jesus Paid It All

Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy)


Lead Me To The Cross

Let God Arise

Let It Rise

Lord I Lift Your Name On High

Lord Reign In Me

Love The Lord




Marvelous Light

Mighty To Save

My Redeemer Lives

My Savior My God


Not To Us


O Praise Him


Our God

Our God Saves


Revelation Song



Shine Jesus Shine

Shout To The Lord

Sing Sing Sing

Sing To The King



The Heart Of Worship

The Stand

Today Is The Day

Trading My Sorrows


Victory In Jesus

We Fall Down


Wonderful Merciful Savior

Worthy Is The Lamb


You Are God Alone (Not A God)

You Are Good

You Are Holy (Prince Of Peace)

You Are My All In All

You Are My King

You Never Let Go

Your Grace Is Enough

Your Love Never Fails

Your Name

You’re Worthy Of My Praise

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see much difference between the two lists. There seems to be a far amount of consistency in themes. But BOTH popular lists are lacking strong themes that focus on the character of God.

The simple truth is probably that the songs like ‘Wisdom, majesty and goodness,’ ‘Omniscience’ and ‘Omnipotence and immutability’ are not very good.

What this list doesn’t show us is the complexity and substance of those songs. That’s for another post and another time, although I took a swing at this awhile back with my post Death Match: Mindbending Hymns vs. Mindless Anthems.

It’s an uneven match in my mind. What do you think?

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19 thoughts on “Top 100 Hymns Against Top 100 Contemporary Praise Songs

  1. Anonymous


    I think that in many ways, modern songs are like popcorn compared to the steak of the old hymns. Much the same could be said about much of today’s preaching in general. I have not ran across many preachers who even try to touch on the common themes preached by Edwards, Spurgeon, Mather, etc. Paul Washer is one of the modern exceptions I have found.

    1. DemianFarnworth

      While not strictly praise/worship we listen to a lot of lecrae, Trip Lee and Timothy Brindle–reformed, Christ centered hip hop, if you can imagine that. ????

    2. Anonymous

      I can handle some of the newage songs,but many are not about Who God is in me and I in Him ,many are more for the unsaved young to sing yet reaching out to God and waiting for Him to save them and give them spiritual eyes and ears and a heart of understanding if they are saved they have those gifts already. .

      Its hard for a Christian to sing a song as though they are not yet saved or asking God to give them something He already gave them when they were Saved .

      Some new songs do have a good message and can sing praises to the Lord ,However none of the old Hymns are lacking a message and you are praising Him in song because you are not still waiting for Him in your life.

      I like the Old Hymns much more than the new ones .

      Most are like listening to and singing rock , maybe its sounds much like what Moses heard when he came down from the Mount with the Ten Commandments which he threw down in anger because the singing and music was not like any he had heard before, the people were pagan worshiping .

      I guess it was the first WOODSTOCK except for the drugs

    3. Jonty

      With regards to the popcorn vs steak, I suppose you can ask whether the purpose of the songs/sermons is for Christians or for people yet in relationship with God. I would rather that sermons were for people who didn’t yet know Jesus, ie: spoken in a language and a topic that connects with people who don’t yet know Jesus, and for me to feed myself the “steak” in Bible study with friends etc.

  2. Anonymous

    “These are the hallmarks of GOOD WORSHIP SONGS, whether they’re hymns or choruses: biblical accuracy, God-centeredness, theological and/or historical progression, absence of first-person singular pronouns, and music that complements the tone of the lyrics.” ~ Mark Dever

    1. Anonymous

      Don – I could not agree more with the Mark Dever quote EXCEPT the absence of first-person singular pronouns part. I feel like a lot of people use this as a knock on contemporary Christian music (CCM), however I feel it is one of the great strengths…within the correct context. The thing that is amazing about our God is that He wants to have a relationship with us. Do we ever forget that He is the omnipotent Creator, the pure and holy Redeemer, etc. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! We must approach each time we worship with reverence and awe. However, what a wonderful expression to sing very personal praise to our very personal God. There are “meaty” and sound theological hymns and CCM just as there are lukewarm and “milky” hymns and CCM. I think the church’s responsibility is to sift out the tares and keep the wheat which is perhaps why hymns seem more substantial as a whole…because they have withstood the test of time. In a hundred years, songs like “How Great Is Our God”, “Revelation Song”, etc. should and will be viewed as hymns are today. Always remember, every hymn was at one time contemporary to the time.

  3. Matt

    I appreciate the list! I was raised on contemporary worship music. When I went back and discovered the hymns, I was astonished by their depth and beauty. There are some good modern songs, but you have to dig for them, and the best ones usually reflect the language of hymns anyway.

    I think the biggest reason there are so many worship wars is because the American church has mostly abandoned Psalm-singing. From the dawn of the Reformation, the Reformers thought it absolutely necessary and vital to translate the Psalms into verse and meter. Churches sang Psalms for a couple hundred years, but since then we have abandoned them. Why? I can’t figure it out! There are some good Psalters out there with modernized language (Psalms for Worship, 2009). No one will have any reason to argue if the church starts reintroducing these! It is hard to argue that the theology is bad, or that the words aren’t meaningful. The Psalms have stolen my heart.

  4. Carolyn

    Couldn’t agree more about modern worship, but I think the reason we have abandoned the old songs is not because they are irrelevant, but because aging Churches have begun to present them as if we all had one foot in the grave. Some of the most soul stirring of hymns are today sung as utter dirges with no power or joy behind them. I am 62 and I don’t like this, so I’m sure energetic young people can’t relate to them.

  5. Dr. Mark A. Judd

    Your article takes a very interesting approach. When you compare modern worship music to the hymns of the past, the first think that I notice is that the hymns of the past tend to be more focused on theological teachings (generally speaking) while modern worship music tends to be more relational: A more personal expression of my relationship to God. Neither approach is “right” or “wrong”; they are just different. The more relational approach is an outgrowth of who we are as people, today, and how we express ourselves.

    1. Carolyn

      I agree with what you say but feel you miss my point. It isn’t the message contained in the song or the era of the songwriters that concern me, simply that the way the music is sung is often irrelevant to young people. Music comes and goes and the good stuff lasts, but we can still ruin it with the wrong approach. Having said that, I also feel that some songwriters today deliberately complicate things by introducing such things as “pre-choruses,” multiple choruses and bridges etc, which is really just an effort to show off their talents rather than assist worshippers to involve themselves fully in praise. I do not like this at all. Church music should scan and flow predictably, and praise should be easy to join.

  6. P Mike

    I was raised Southern Baptist, current church is independent. I was brought up with ancient (sacred) hymns – vs contemporary music – in church, with some praise chorus & contemporary special music mixed in church services.

  7. Anonymous

    I enjoy, lead to I discovered exactly what I used to be having a

    look for. You have ended my four day long hunt!

    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  8. Tracy Esther

    I love this list. Thanks. I love both the hymns and the new songs. I love Hillsongs. Although Hosanna Intergrity’s Praise and Worship was excellent. I enjoy all genres. I love 4Him. Gateway music is also good. His Blessings to everyone.


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