My 10 Favourite Worship Songs of the 2000s

worship
This latest post sees me return to the series My Favourite Worship Songs, the previous posts/decades are available here:

10. Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

CCLI SongSelect#: 4662491Written: Paul Baloche; Year: 2006
Original Key:  G; YouTube link: Paul Baloche

Hosanna (Praise is Rising) starts off our list for the 2000s. It is highly appropriate that Paul appears on my list for the 2000s, given he features quite highly on my list for the 1990s. Hosanna was written with Palm Sunday in mind – when Jesus rode triumphantly yet humbly into Jerusalem the week leading up to Easter.

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Musically, the verses provide a simple melody, building up slightly with each line. The pre-chorus helps to connect the verse to the chorus – “Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day. In Your presence, all our fears are washed away!” The chorus then break out in proclamation – “Hosanna! Hosanna! You are the God who saves us! Worthy of all our praises! Hosanna! Hosanna! Come have Your way among us. We welcome You here Lord Jesus.” In this way, the song lyrics are clearly biblical and theologically sound.

9. Here I Am to Worship

CCLI SongSelect#: 3266032Written: Tim Hughes; Year: 2000
Original Key: E; YouTube link: Hillsong

When you step back to realise that the song was written in two halves – with the verse lyrics written first – “light of the world” followed by the chorus later – it all seems seamless now. Sometimes a lot of work goes into a song over an extended period of time. When you closely examine the lyrics with this kind of background knowledge, you can start to see how the verses may have been written in the same sitting – where the focus is on Jesus. The chorus shifts that focus to us submitting and bringing ourselves before God in worship and praise of Him. The bridge also has the unique lyrics of “I’ll never know, how much it cost, to see my sin upon the cross.” No matter how disjointed these lyrics are, the music all ties it together seamlessly.

Overall, this song oozes of the essence of worship – bringing ourselves just as we are before the cross and submitting to God. Declaring Him for who He is – the light, the saviour, our King worthy of exalting.

8. You Are/You Are Lord

CCLI SongSelect#: 3988767Written: Darlene Zschech & Jennifer Va’a; Year: 2003
Original Key:  F; YouTube link: Hillsong Hope, 2003

Hillsong will also be another repeat feature in this list, as they continue to build on their first decade of success. You Are/You Are Lord is one of my favourites. The reason is demonstrable in the stanza “Yes, I will bless the Lord forever. I’ll bless Your Holy name.” echoing with “You are ask me who do I, say that You are, and I, say that You are the Christ” 2:48 – 2:58 in the YouTube clip above is the best evidence, as performed in the original recording. This same multi-part choir performance features is part of what makes me pick these songs as my personal favourites – I liken it to hearing the angels sing. When you hear so many people worshiping God, how can you not just join in and connect with God?

Over the years, I have often confused the title of this song – after all the actual title is not self evident from the song lyrics. The first line in the verse begins “You are my light and salvation”, whilst “I will bless the Lord forever” is the commencement of the chorus. The closest lyrical match is in the bridge “You ask me who do I? Say that You are, and I, say that You are the Christ. Son of the Living God”. Let me repeat that bridge lyrically, as it appears on screen:

You ask me who do I?

Say that You are, and I,

Say that You are the Christ.

Son of the Living God

It is only when you see it here that the “You are” title of the song becomes best understood. The bridge, and the title are thus a reference to the conversation between Jesus and Peter from Matthew 16:13-20:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

In this way, the song echoes the words of Peter, and enables us to personalise our declaration to God – Jesus, You are the Son of the living God!

7. Your Name

CCLI SongSelect#: 4611679Written: Paul Baloche & Glenn Packiam; Year: 2006
Original Key:  Bb; YouTube link: Paul Baloche Acoustic Version

Paul Baloche has truly been anointed by the Holy Spirit when he writes these songs. Based on the Psalm 65, the collaboration between Paul and Glenn that birthed this song was truly the result of encountering God. Your Name interweaves the Old Testament scripture with the New Testament – there is power in the name of Jesus! Lyrically, the strong focus on Jesus carries a similarity to Shout to the Lord – Jesus is our strong tower under which we can take refuge and find strength, healing and redemption.

Your Name is a song designed to invite people to engage in the act of worship – to cry out to God and submit ourselves before Him in prayer and worship. Nothing has the power to save like Your Name, the name of Jesus. There is no name like the name of Jesus!

I have used Your Name as a song of personal reflective worship, during times of solace when I needed to be restored by the grace of God. I have also seen the complete opposite – where I have helped perform this song as part of wedding worship.

6. Mighty to Save

CCLI SongSelect#: 4591782Written: Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan; Year: 2006
Original Key: A; YouTube link: Hillsong

This song is instantly recognisable by its ditty/introduction played by the acoustic guitar. Within seconds, millions would recognise what song you are about to launch into. The words are an anthem that helped propel Hillsong even higher in the halls of Christian music fame. The lyrics of “rising to conquer the grave” often make this a timely song to use in an Easter Sunday service.

Personally, I recall performing this as part of an Easter choir production, not just once, but repeated over the years. In this way, I not only know the melody really well, but also the main tenor part. When the song was first released in 2006 this become my go-to song for a very long period.

The vocal-drum duo of the bridge “Shine Your light and let the whole world see” creates more space in an otherwise full song that can, if not done properly, become a wall of noise. Along with At the Cross, these two songs form pillars iconic of the Hillsong impact on worship music- highly representative of christian contemporary worship of the 2000s. When you listen to the whole music video from the YouTube link above, you will hear the church congregation break out and chant “Jesus” at the end; such is the power of corporate praise and worship!

5. The Stand

CCLI SongSelect#: 4705248Written: Joekl Houston; Year: 2005
Original Key: A; YouTube link: Hillsong United @ The Passion Live 2014

So I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

Often, all you need of this song is the chorus, as displayed above. There are so many times during worship when one song simply leads into this outbreak of declaration – I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned. The chorus in itself is like a mini song.

As a result, we sometimes forget that there is a verse that kicks the song off properly! The verses are just as beautiful in their lyrics:

You stood before creation
Eternity in your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

 

You stood before my failure
And carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon your shoulders
My soul now to stand

 

So I’ll walk upon salvation

Your spirit alive in me

This life to declare your promise
My soul now to stand

I have intentionally separated the pre-chorus lyrics below. The way the original song arrangement is organised, the pre-chorus could be mistaken for a chorus, since the first two verses are sung together followed by the pre-chorus and then the third verse.

So what could I say?
And what could I do?
But offer this heart, Oh God
Completely to you

The pre-chorus, when repeated the second time, is sung the same but with a slight minor chords adjustment and with additional build up to the actual chorus “I’ll stand…” In this way, because you do not actually sing the chorus until the end of the song, it is understandable to think of it as a bridge rather than chorus…

The Stand is a masterpiece of corporate worship – which is why it is frequently inserted into worship brackets with little thought or need to plan in advance.

4. Blessed Be Your Name

CCLI SongSelect#: 3798438Written: Matt & Beth Redman; Year: 2002
Original Key:  B; YouTube link: Newsboys Live, We Are Go, Houston 2008

Matt Redman wrote Blessed Be Your Name (BBYN) in the aftermath of September 11. The origin story is mentioned here on Pastor Presnell’s Blog. Matt’s biblical source for the lyrics behind the song apparently was the Book of Job. A audio interview of Matt is available from The Heart of Worship. Now, like most readers, Christian or otherwise, would probably share my reaction on learning this – I didn’t see that one coming. However, now on closer examination, I can see Job behind the verse statements – when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness – the trials that we face as believers in our journey. The song implores us to praise God inspire or even during our hardships.

The bridge lyrics of “You give and take away. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say – Blessed be Your name!” are rooted in Job 1:20-22:

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshiped, and said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The popularity of the song resonates with people who can all identify with Job in enduring the challenges that we each face.

BBYN has been performed by many different bands, in different styles. Apart from the Matt Redman original, Newsboys have helped to popularise the song by performing their pop-rock version.

Musically, BBYN has a gentle flowing melody, which is easily translated into 2 or 3 part harmonies. Rhythmically, it is sung off beat to simple 4:4 timing. The pre-chorus builds the energy of the song both musically and lyrically – “Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say…” The chorus emphasises its dominance, being sung predominantly on the root chord (originally B) while the bridge complements melodically. The song is medium pace, with a flowing tempo and cresendo through the pre-chorus into the chorus. The bridge offers a lighter touch and can be extended with instrumentals to allow for free worship. I have heard one performance/variation where the song begins quietly with the bridge, repeating and building and then leading into the song. Whilst I have not heard it, I can envision what a mass choral arrangement would sound like, particularly my favourite echoing/round style applied to the bridge simultaneous with the chorus. Having done a search on YouTube, I have actually found what I have heard what I’m trying to describe here with the IGo Student Choir 2010, starting from 2:30 to 2:55. Another choir has also performed this same round – The Romanian Youth Conference Philadelphia Worship team & choir – starting from 4:40 to 5:05.

3. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

CCLI SongSelect#: 4768151Written: Chris Tomlin, John Newton & Louie Giglio;
Year: 2006; Original Key: F; YouTube link: Chris Tomlin Official Music Video

Ephesians 2:8-9 states:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Chris Tomlin explains in the background story interview, that he was approached to write a song for the movie Amazing Grace. In his research of John Newton, he discovered the details behind John Newton’s life as a former slave trader and master of a slave ship. Chris shares how the final verse that we all famously know and sing was added 100 years after the original lyrics were penned:

When we’ve been there 10,000 years

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

The refrain “my chains are gone” was added by Chris as a homage to the fact that we have all been slaves to something. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – AGMCAG – is just a tribute to the sacrifice and life of John Newton who was very much freed and championed the cause to end slavery.

Chris Tomlin, in refreshing the traditional hymn created a whole new off-beat modern day version which can confuse listeners and worshipers if they are not careful. The traditional hymn is generally sung on the beat, and conforms to a 3:4 rhythm, whereas Chris Tomlin’s version is sung off the beat and to standard 4:4 timing. For this reason, the feel of both songs is completely different. You cannot switch between the two and simply add the “My chains are gone” chorus to a traditional hymn. Believe me – I’ve tried…

AGMCAG appeals to me personally in the way Chris Tomlin starts of the official version, as shown in the music video, as a piano driven song. Over the first chorus and then from the second verse, the guitar becomes more evident as the song builds. The flexibility of the song in being played with all different ensembles of instruments and bands. One interesting observation I have made while listening/watching various performances of the song, the South American way of singing the song seems to pronounce, if not change slight lyrics. The most obvious difference I noticed is in the chorus “my God my saviour” and “saviour” and one or two small changes in the actual words.

I further really love the piano scene of the official music video with the whole autumn theme, where the open grand piano is covered by the beautiful red/yellow autumn leaves. It does make me wonder how realistic is it to play a piano in those conditions – so I suspect there is some form of protection hidden under the matte of leaves, otherwise some of the keys would not sound correctly. It also highlights how Chris was probably recorded playing and then the audio and vocal tracks were edited in to replace the original.

2. At The Cross

CCLI SongSelect#: 4591816Written: Darlene Zschech & Reuben Morgan; Year: 2006
Original Key:  E; YouTube link: Hillsong

2006 is a very popular year for songs – five of the songs on my list were all released in 2006! God was pouring out His Spirit in a very evident way! At The Cross (ATC) is a very special song to me given the number of personal worship sessions I have spent in the presence of God listening & singing this song. Originally, when writing this article, I worked through #10 and #9 first, before reversing the order and worked from #1 to #8 – which was the original position of this song, which was a reflection more of where the song is listed in the mainstream list of popular songs (CCLI Top SongSelect Song). On inserting and completing my list of top 10 songs, my re-sorting of all songs resulted in ATC being elevated all the way up to #2 to reflect my personal connection to the song – both musically and lyrically.

ATC begins in a very gentle way, sung sweetly by Darlene in the original Hillsong version which dominates all versions of this song performed. The pre-chorus line of “I know You love me” cannot be emphasised enough for the number of times when I have been reduced, humbled and connected to the Headship and Lordship of God/Christ through this. As expected, the title and lyrics of the song make this another popular example of an Easter song, which also drove its popularity in its early years, and probably also provides it with staying power.

At the cross I bow my knee

Where Your blood was shed for me

There’s no greater love than this

You have overcome the grave

Your Glory fills the highest praise

What can separate me now?

The fact that I can quickly type the whole chorus out above without even checking is testament to how well I know this song. Like Mighty To Save, but even more, this song is imprinted in my heart and mind because of having learnt it for Easter choir performances. Whilst I know the harmonies intrinsically, it is very hard for me to stick to the harmony notes since my heart is always wanting to break out in singing this completely unrestrained and to the melody.

The bridge is a key proclamation of faith moment:

You tore the veil

You made a way

When You said that it is done.

Jesus, You have indeed paid the price at the cross. It is finished – death has lost its sting and the grave is overcome. Hallelujah!

1. How Great Is Our God

CCLI SongSelect#: 4348399Written: Christ Tomlin; Year: 2004
Original Key:  C; YouTube link: Arriving, Chris Tomlin, 2004

Just as the 1990s are epitomised in Shout to the Lord, so too are the 2000s by How Great Is our God (HGIOG). The fact that Hillsong could not resist contributing their rendition of the song in 2007 is in one sense the universal appeal of HGIOG. Similar to how Hillsong dominated my musical tastes of the 1990s, Chris Tomlin has also influenced me and the 2000s in Christian contemporary worship. On the official SongSelect record, whilst four non-English translations are listed (Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish), in truth, the list of translations are far greater, as shown in the World Edition, published in 2012. This rendition is also my favourite version of the song. In particular the choir/mass singing are magical moments which always draw me closer to God:

  • 2:50 – 3:07, 3:15 and 3:22: choral echoes
  • 4:25 – 4:45 and 4:50 – 5:10: en-mass bridge united singing with choir

The following is reproduced from African Gospel Lyrics and the list shows just how far reaching the song has had its influence: English, Hindim, Indonesian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Zulu and Chinese.

[Hindi – Sung by Dilip Kurian]
Aaahhhh…

[English – sung by Chris Tomlin]
The splendor of a King, Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice,  all the earth rejoice

[Indonesian – sung by Sidney Mohede]
Terang-Nya bersinar (The splendor of the King)
Kegelapan t’lah sirna (Clothed in majesty)
Sujudlah pada-Nya (Let all the earth rejoice)
Sujudlah pada-Nya (all the earth rejoice)

[Russian – Sung by Roma Kasevich]
Наш Бог так велик! (Nash Bog Tak Velik) [How great is our God]
Пой со мной (Poi tso Mnoi) [Sing with me]
Наш Бог так велик! (Nash Bog Tak Velik) [How great is our God]
Пусть видят все (Pust vidyat vse) [And all will see]
Наш Бог, наш Бог, так велик! (Nash Bog, Nash Bog, Tak Velik) [How great, how great is our God]

Age to age he stands, And time is in his hands
Beginning and the end, Beginning and the end

[Spanish – Sung by Marcos Witt & Portuguese – Sung by Ferhandinho]
Los tres en uno son, La santa trinidad (The three in one, the Holy Trinity)
Cordero y el león, Cordero y el león (The Lamb and the Lion, the Lamb and the Lion)
Cuan grande es mi Dios (Quão grande é o meu Deus) [How great is our God]
cantemos, Cuan grande es mi Dios (Sing, How great is our God)
Y todos lo verán, Cuan grande es mi Dios (everyone will see how great is our God)

[Zulu – Directed by Victor Masondo and sung by the Zulu Choir]
Name above all names,
Nkosi yamakhosi, Baba (King of all Kings, Father)
Worthy of our praise
Sithi uyingcwele, Baba (We say you are Holy, Father)
My heart will sing, how great is our God

You are the name above all names
Somandla Somandla, Baba (Almighty, Almighty Father)
You are worthy of our praise
Somandla Somandla, Baba (Almighty, Almighty Father)
My heart will sing, how great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, How great is our God

How great is our God, How great is our God
How great is our God, How great is our God
How great, How great is our God (Repeat)

[Zulu]Yebo Nkosi yethu (Yes our King)

[Chinese(Mandarin) – Sung by Jing Hir]
我神真偉大 wo shen zhen wei da (How great is my God)
歌頌祢聖名 ge shou ni shen ming (Singing to Your Name)
真偉大 zhen wei da (Really great)
全地都看見 quan li dou kan jian (everyone sees)
我神真偉大 wo shen zhen wei da (How great is my God)

 

Comments

  1. […] The Stand happened to be the main song we focused on for the lesson. The song can really be split in two where the chorus is performed on its own. This invariably happens more frequently than a full performance of the song. To read more on the song specifically, read My Top 10 Favourite Worship Songs of the 2000s. […]