Selecting Songs for Corporate Worship

I get asked quite often about the advisability of using modern hymns (especially from Sovereign Grace and Townend & Getty), probably because of my association with It’s a decision that churches need to make individually and on which we should give each other a great deal of space. (We do believe in the autonomy of the local church, after all.) But for the sake of time, I figured it would be most efficient to collect some of my thoughts and other resources on the topic in one place.

For our part, Tri-County Bible Church has benefited tremendously from supplementing our hymnal (Majesty Hymns) with a large number of hymns. In fact, we generally print bulletin inserts with at least 2 hymns per week. (We’ll “go green” and project them onto a screen in our new building, Lord willing.) At the bottom of this post are some that we’ve used in recent years. You’ll note that some are very old. (We love Watts and Wesley!) Others are very new. But all make much of Christ and are overflowing with sound theology. Many were composed or revived by Sovereign Grace or Townend & Getty. We’re very grateful for the Christ-honoring texts these brothers and sisters are writing, and we’re not at all hesitant to use them. We don’t use everything they write, and when we do, we do it in a “Tri-County” manner. But neither do we use everything Ron Hamilton writes, or everything Mac Lynch writes, or everything I write! We’re selective, and we try to discern what will best honor our Savior and serve our congregation. Our main burden is that we choose our songs intentionally–for textual reasons, as part of a worship service theme, etc. Here are several resources that may be helpful as you think through this (all expressing my basic approach):

I understand that others are coming to different conclusions, which is fine. But we believe that what we’re doing has biblical and historical backing. And frankly, I can’t imagine that our church would be best served by eliminating a song like Before the Throne of God Above, which I consider to be among the finest hymns available to us. Whatever you decide, I urge you to practice discernment—don’t just do what’s trendy, and don’t just bow to the fear of man. Adopting every new thing probably reveals a lack of discernment, as does fear of adopting any new thing.


Hymns we’ve recently introduced at TCBC:

  • All Praise to Thee (a great meditation on Philippians 2)
  • Almighty Father
  • Before The Throne of God Above
  • For the Sake of His Name
  • God Is Our Strength and Refuge (Psalm 46)
  • Glory Be to God on High
  • Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal
  • Heavens Shout God’s Matchless Glory (Psalm 19)
  • Here Is Love
  • His Robes for Mine
  • Holy, Mighty, Worthy
  • How Awesome Is Your Name (Psalm 8)
  • How Deep the Father’s Love
  • How Sweet and Awesome is the Place
  • I Plead for Grace (Psalm 51)
  • I Will Glory in My Redeemer
  • Immanuel (From the Squalor)
  • In Christ Alone
  • Joy Has Dawned Upon the World
  • Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending
  • My Jesus, Fair
  • Nothing. Hallelujah!
  • O God, Be Merciful to Me
  • O God, My Joy
  • O Great God
  • O How Vast the Blessings (Psalm 1)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten
  • Praise Our Savior, Jesus Christ
  • Salvation’s Cup
  • Speed Thy Servants, Savior
  • Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
  • The Gospel Song
  • The Lord’s My Shepherd (Psalm 23)
  • Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord
  • To the Praise of His Glorious Grace
  • We Rest on Thee
  • You Who Were Rich

Note: I mentioned that these are supplementary. The songs we sing from our hymnal are generally of the same flavor, however: And Can It Be; Arise My Soul, Arise; Hallelujah, What a Savior; How Can It Be?; and the like.


10 Responses

  1. KAAAA—CHOW!!!

    Best line ever: “We’re selective, and we try to discern what will best honor our Savior and serve our congregation.”

  2. Thanks for this posting. It’s so biblical and sensible and so needed.

  3. So Chris, I had actually contemplating shooting you an e-mail about this very topic just last night but decided you were probably far too busy. Apparently you’re such a nice guy that you sent an answer anyway. Thanks!

  4. Bullseye. That’s pretty much the way we have been “doing it” for many years. Thanks for the post.

  5. Excellent statement, Chris. Biblical . . . gracious . . . balanced.

  6. Score for Pastor Chris!

    We’re doing the same thing way out West in AZ. I did have to change some of my songleading habits when we started using a screen along with our hymnals. But then I had to adapt to a headset mic, too. . . . :-)

  7. Great thoughts, Chris. Thanks!

  8. I appreciate this–especially that both its tone and content are biblically and historically informed. This topic is a way to demonstrate commitment to a faithful conscience before God and love for His people on an ecclesiastical scale.

  9. On target and very helpful, Chris. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  10. […] this was originally posted last March, I’ve had many more discussions with pastors regarding the wise selection of hymns for […]

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