Worship Blog For Worship Leaders
WTR Blog

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Popular Worship Songs - New Songs That Are Popular With Worship Leaders

Do you ever wonder what makes some songs like 'Here I Am To Worship' and 'Mighty To Save' so popular? Sometimes I hear a song and think "this one will definitely take off and go around the world"...and then it doesn't even seem to take of atf a local level let alone be a popular worship song.

Are some worship songs just naturally popular or does it have a lot to do with marketing and promotion? Does it depend on who wrote the worship song? Or perhaps who the songwriter knows personally? Or even if they are signed with a well known record label such as Integrity or Kingsway?

It's also interesting to me that when I just checked the top 25 songs in the US for August 2009 on CCLI and compared them to the UK ones there is quite a contrast in terms of age and genre of the songs. I would guess that about 90%, if not more, of the top 25 US songs are songs that were written in the last 10 years or so. In contrast to this, the Top 25 songs for August 2009, in the UK, are on the whole quite a lot older. I would guess about 50% of them are at least 15-20 years old, if not much older (such as 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness' and 'As The Deer').

So what is that makes a new worship song popular...and what makes it spread throughout the world? My guess would be that the songwriter either needs to be very well connected, or know people that are well connected. 'Shout To The Lord' has been a massive hit around the world and is a fantastic song. I do wonder though, if it have been written by an unknown songwriter in a small congregation in the UK, would it have ever spread beyond one church, or at most one town? Or is it the song that helps someone like Darlene Zschech become well known in the first place? I guess everyone has to start somewhere and perhaps when you write a song that is destined to become popular and to bless congregations worldwide then God has His hand on it and He ultimately makes it happen.

I think there are lots of songs that could become popular and well known, and be used by worship leaders across the globe if they had a big marketing push behind them, but instead they're just used by local congregations. Is this so bad? I would suggest not. There is an abundance of christian worship songwriters today and lots of them are actually really good! Just take a look at the 'Songwriter's Circle' on Worship The Rock and you'll find hundreds of songwriters giving feedback on each other's songs. These songs are often only used by a single church, or a handful of churches, but i'm sure God uses them to bless their congregations. In fact, God can inspire and use the songwriter to craft a song that says exactly what He wants them to be singing. He can tailor it for their particular situation, their culture, their tragedies, their joy, their town or city. Surely in many ways it's better to be using a worship song that is very relevant to your particular congregation rather than a generic one that appeals to the masses?

There's definitely a place for both though; globally popular worship songs, and songs that are popular with your particular house group or congregation, or town, or country, but that may never go beyond those boundaries.



  2. 55 minutes and 30 seconds, and yes :-)

    (Was this a joke comment Anonymous?)

  3. Phil,

    This is my first visit to the WTR blog. I appreciate your comments about writing songs suited to a local congregation. The goal in writing any worship song or hymn should never be fame. The goal is always to write contextual music that is gospel-centered and Christ exalting; something that glorifies God and builds up the sheep he has called you to serve. If such a song proves useful and edifying to other congregations, praise God. If not, praise God still.

  4. Very true RAPursley - thanks for your comments.

  5. What is it that makes a worship song popular?
    The most popular songs seem to be the "worship songs for any occasion" such as "How Great Is Our God", "Here I Am To Worship", and "Blessed Be Your Name".
    On the other hand, when my previous pastor was going to preach a series on the Ten Commandments and asked the praise team if we knew any worship songs that would fit thematically with sermons about not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, honoring parents, etc., we were forced to reply, "Uh...no."
    So I figured, why not try to write some?
    The worship songs that I have written based on the Ten Commandments (and other subjects) will never make it onto any CCLI charts because their subject matter is too specific, but it just seems more worthwhile to try to write worship songs on relatively untouched topics than to add to the ever-growing collection of songs about how great God's love is and how awesome His grace is and how we need to lift up His name and give thanks to Him.
    End of mild rant :^)


  6. Thanks for your post. It's something that's been on my heart for a couple of weeks now as I'm in the middle of trying to get a song published, recorded and then who knows... It sounds like it's got the potential 'to go far' yet I'm quite aware it may never go further than my church. It has so far been well received in my church and by anyone willing to hear me out with it (friends, songwriters, church leaders, sound engineers)! The reception and feedback is so positive that I'm thinking of recording and releasing it through a Christian music project in the UK.

    Here's the thing though. It may get released and do well in a handful of churches 'at best' or it could really take off (wishful thinking!) or it could go nowhere at all except my home church, but I can't help but think that even with all that potential if it's not picked up by the 'right' people then only a few may ever know of it.

    That probably sounds like the frustrated artist in me. But there's an upside from that too, though it may be painful. It could well turn out to be a lesson in humility; re-learning to humble myself before the Lord and serve and adore Him only...

    The other lesson from it is to trust the Lord whole heartedly whatever His plans for me or the song may be.

  7. Sharing this kind of topic is very helpful-- thank you so much!
    Looking forward for more of your posts soon.

  8. I am worship leader on Long Island in New York..I take each Sunday at a time. I guess there is nothing wrong with marketing cd's. I wonder if there were a way to just give the music away? Freely we receive freely we give. This is not to say I haven't entertained recording and marketing music to get the songs I write "out there" But there seems to be a freedom when I ponder giving the music away for free. But I know people have to eat and music just may be that provision. Good to hear from other worship leaders.

  9. Hi you could be the best song writer - singer recording artist in the world but without a solid way to promote music you will not get far.
    I am a professional gospel guitarist and known in many parts of the world....I have been on radio many times over the years...and I'll tell you the truth I've seen some great artist who have 10 times the talnet as many of the people you hear on radio or who you buy cd's of....but..they lack connections that will turn it all around for them.

    But I also feel...if the Lord is in the music and God wants a song to be heard..then there's no stopping the power of God.....

    Anyways..you have a wonderful sight !!
    If you get time come by and say hello at my site located online at... Songs Of Worship on Acoustic Guitar
    Thanks...GW Williams