Trends in Modern Worship Music from 2000-2010

I have collected some information from CCLI that shows the top ten reported worship songs for each year 2000-2010.  I have noted several things from the report which you can view HERE.

  • “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” was the #1 reported song in 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003
  • “Shout to the Lord” was in every year’s top ten except for 2010
  • Only two songs from the 1991 Baptist Hymnal were included in the decade of CCLI’s top reported songs: “I Love You, Lord” and “Majesty”.
  • 2003 was the last year a 1991 Baptist Hymnal song was recorded in the top ten
  • There have been five top songs in 11 years: “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord”, “Here I Am to Worship”, “How Great is Our God”, and “Mighty to Save”.
  • In 2010, Chris Tomlin had recorded/introduced 6 out of the top ten songs reported: “How Great is Our God”, “Everlasting God”, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone”, “Your Grace is Enough”, “Jesus Messiah”, and “Holy is the Lord”.
  • “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” was included in each year’s top ten from 2001-2010.
  • The biggest jump in ranking in consecutive years was “How Great is Our God” being #10 in 2006 and jumping to #1 in 2007.
  • When the 2008 Baptist Hymnal came out it included every single song from the CCLI top ten from 2000 until the time of publishing.
  • “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” was in the top ten 2000-2008.
  • “Mighty to Save” jumped into the top ten in 2009 to #4 and replaced “How Great is Our God” as #1 in 2010.

Refections on this list:

  • It is difficult for hymnals to keep up.  LifeWay went from 1991 to 2008 in between making an updated hymnal for the modern church.  In doing so, the landscape had changed so much, they made two: The Worship Hymnal and The Baptist Hymnal.  Give them credit for catching up and targeting CCLI’s top 25 list for the year.  But the problem becomes, great songs have been written since 2008 and the church needs those too.  Hymnals are immediately out-of-date when they are published.  Like a newspaper, when you get it to your doorstep or at the store, the news has been splattered over the Internet and news in such a way it feels like it is out-of-date.  I love the hymns…new and old…but it is difficult for them to keep pace with the likes of CCLI’s Song Select, Praise Charts and countless other sites, who bring instant resources to the local church leader.  This is what propelled LifeWay to embark on the LifeWayWorship.com website.
  • Chris Tomlin (whether you like it or not) is changing the face of modern worship music.  In the 2000-2010 top ten he is represented in seven songs.  In 2010, Tomlin had recorded/introduced six of the top ten songs.  The next closest composer is Matt Redman with only two (“Blessed Be Your Name” and “The Heart of Worship”, but never in the same year).  Tomlin is the only artist/worship leader with more than one song in the same year.  The number of songs in one year for Tomlin would be greater if expanded from top ten to top twenty-five.
  • Hillsong dominates for a long time.  “Shout to the Lord” first came into the top ten in February of 1999 at #8 and stayed in the top ten until 2010.  In 2009, the Hillsong anthem “Mighty to Save” joined “Shout to the Lord” in the top  ten, and then went on to be 2010′s top song.  A major Hillsong ballad sticks around for a long time.

Projections for 2011 and beyond?

  • Chris Tomlin will continue to dominate with songs like “Jesus Messiah”, “How Great is Our God”, “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”, and add new ones a few years from now like, “Our God”, “I Will Follow”, and more.
  • Keith Getty/Stuart Townend make a strong push into the top ten.  Written in 2001, “In Christ Alone” is becoming a standard in congregational worship music.  It made it’s CCLI top ten debut in 2008 at #20 and has stayed on the list each year following (2009 #21 and 2010 #16).  I predict it will end up around #10 for 2011.  This will open the door for other songs like “(Oh to See the Dawn) The Power of the Cross”, “Speak O, Lord”, and other Getty songs to go mainstream.
  • Modern worship music is evolving.  Days of short choruses like “Sanctuary” and one verse/one chorus songs like, “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” are few and far between.  They are still prevalent, but theologically-rich songs like “Jesus Messiah”, “Blessed Be Your Name”, and the 2006 version of “How Great Thou Art”, “How Great is Our God” are taking over.  In the future, scripture-filled modern hymns like “In Christ Alone”, and “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” will be infused.
  • The Internet is changing modern worship, meaning accessibility is key to mainstream popularity.  iTunes, the Internet, and countless other platforms make the current worship music easily accessible.  More more accessible it is, the more popular it becomes.

Other ideas or reflections?  Comment and let me know…again, check out the top 10 sheet HERE.

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10 thoughts on “Trends in Modern Worship Music from 2000-2010

  1. I love this post and I completely agree. Even though sometimes I feel like, “I’m over Chris Tomlin,” he has an amazing gift, and his songs are God-inspired and can connect with my heart just as much as his. I had never mad an analogy between a hymnal and a newspaper, but it’s a very good point. I sort of feel bad for hymnals.

    Great post, great site!

  2. I really appreciate the comment…and the perspective. As a college student, you say you are “over” Tomlin. That could be due to leadership over-using his material. It could also be that in this age of music and the Internet, etc., the shelf-life of songs today is much different that days gone by. Back in the day there was “The Andy Griffith Show” and that’s about it. Today, there’s 300 channels on basic cable. More to pick from so things don’t become “classic” as easily.

  3. Dennis,

    Thanks for the kind words about the Baptist Hymnal/Worship Hymnal/LifeWayWorship.com. A book is indeed “out of date” when it’s published, but one of the goals of the hymnal was to identify songs that both are part of our current worship vocabulary and that would stand the test of time.

    If any of your readers haven’t tried LifeWayWorship.com, they can use coupon CMTBLOG2011 for two free chart or track downloads (up to $2.00 value each, coupon expires 2/1)

    –Patrick Watts
    http://LifeWayWorship.com

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  6. If you wanna see where worship is headed… check out Jesus Culture… they are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds in 2011.

    • Thanks for the comment and for reading the article! I know of Jesus Culture…A few churches in this area of the state use much of their music in their worship services.

  7. Pingback: How church music can welcome newcomers. | sevennotesofgrace

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