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The Top 24 Hymns that Lutherans Love to Sing

September 21st, 2010
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Courtesy of Lutheranism101.org comes this list of the “Top 24″ hymns that our Worship Arts department has received via out Lutheran Service Builder users, and there are now nearly 2,500 congregations using Lutheran Service Builder. When a hymn is selected, our servers are “pinged” so we are able to “watch” which hymns are the most popular. Here they are, listed by hymn title and number in Lutheran Service Book.

  1. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God 656/6555
  2. Amazing Grace 744
  3. Beautiful Savior 537
  4. Children of the Heavenly Father 725
  5. Crown Him with Many Crowns 525
  6. Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice 556
  7. Go, My Children, with My Blessing 922
  8. I Know That My Redeemer Lives 461
  9. Jesus Has Come and Brings Pleasure 533
  10. Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus 685
  11. Lift High the Cross 837
  12. Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word 655
  13. Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds 465
  14. O Lord, We Praise Thee 617
  15. O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright 395
  16. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded 449/450
  17. Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow 805
  18. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty 790
  19. Savior of the Nations, Come 332
  20. Silent Night, Holy Night 363
  21. Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness 636
  22. The Church’s One Foundation 644
  23. The Tree of Life 561
  24. Thy Strong Word 578
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Categories: Lutheranism
  1. Weedon
    September 21st, 2010 at 21:01 | #1

    Amazing Grace???? Surely not.

  2. September 21st, 2010 at 21:12 | #2

    LSB 655, 556, 533, 655, and 617 have all been on Time Out.

    We haven’t done 725, but we did do Vajda’s lyrics to that tune, 593.
    We haven’t done 395, but we have done TLH 343.
    We did LSB 363, adding a first verse in German.

    I would like to see LSB 941 and 666 hit that list eventually. :)

  3. September 21st, 2010 at 21:37 | #3

    The figures don’t lie, William!

    But really, this should be titled “The top 24 Hhymns that Missouri Synod Lutherans love to sing”. A list from Lutherans in Australia would be quite different, although there would be some commonalities and…yes, I’m afraid “Amazing Grace” would feature on our list as well.

  4. mike woolery
    September 21st, 2010 at 22:23 | #4

    Weedon :Amazing Grace???? Surely not.

    I could not agree with you more.

  5. Steve
    September 21st, 2010 at 22:40 | #5

    One of my favorites is “Holy, Holy, Holy”. This is the first hymn in the Baptist Hymnal that I grew up with.

  6. September 22nd, 2010 at 06:41 | #6

    Silent Night? Presuming that this is sung but a few days a year and that this tracks for all the year for several years, I am surprised that it made it into the top 10. Either the method of tracking is skewed or congregations are singing Silent Night morning, afternoon, and night a lot more than Advent/Christmas…

    • September 22nd, 2010 at 12:25 | #7

      The list is generated by the number of uses of a particularly hymn being reported via the Builder software, so, it makes sense that “Silent Night” would be in the list, since so many congregations do use it at Christmas time. A “Christmas rush” so to speak.

  7. Peter Sovitzky
    September 22nd, 2010 at 08:26 | #8

    In my opinion this isn’t that surprising. Considering these are congregations that use bulletins for their services vs. the hymnal itself this does not surprise me. I am certainly glad 656 is at the top!

  8. Jesse
    September 22nd, 2010 at 09:06 | #9

    Will they be releasing a list of the 24 hymns least requested? I’m curious if all the Herb Brokering hymns in the LSB are on there… :)

  9. Brian Crane
    September 22nd, 2010 at 09:17 | #10

    Amazing Grace is not my favorite hymn, but I don’t think it’s terrible. I don’t choose it very often for our regular worship services. However, it does remain one of the “old favorites” for funerals. If a family asks to have “Amazing Grace” sung at a funeral, it’s hard for me to say no, especially since it is in our hymnal. I wonder if its popularity at funerals accounts in part for its making the list.

    I just noticed that the list is in alphabetical order. It would be interesting to see the rankings from most to least popular.

  10. George
    September 22nd, 2010 at 10:12 | #11

    I have to say, although I’d like to think Amazing Grace would find its way farther down the list, that this list does suggest a vibrant hymnody within the churches “surveyed.” I also wonder if funerals (where Amazing Grace can be a decent compromise between what a family requests and what the pastor wants) skew the numbers…

    thanks, Paul, for posting this. It’s interesting.

  11. EGK
    September 22nd, 2010 at 12:21 | #12

    Amazing Grace has an interesting background in terms of modern popular culture. Though it was undoubtedly well known in Methodist / Baptist / Holiness circles, I had never heard it (and I think most LCMS-raised people had never heard it) until it was sung in the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” in the late 60s, first in the scene of a revival meeting and then by Arlo Guthrie and a few others a bit later. After that, Judy Collins picked it up and made a best seller of it, and people were intrigued by the bagpiipe version done by the Knights of the Black Watch. By the time LBW and LW came around, it was so well known, and was probably suggested by so many people, that it ended up in our hymnals.

    In all fairness, inclusion of that hymn and a lot of others (including Holy Holy Holy) demonstrates the catholicity of our worship.

  12. Diane Hammond
    September 22nd, 2010 at 12:36 | #13

    Weedon :
    Amazing Grace???? Surely not.

    “Amazing Grace” along with “America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” are the quintessential hymns of the American civil religion. That “Amazing Grace” is number two doesn’t surprise me at all. At least the people who put LW together changed the text in some of the stanzas. Would most people in our congregations even realize that the text in the original stanzas was bad theology? I doubt it. Lutherans have always wanted to get along with the revivalist denominations and singing one of their hymns is one way to do it. I believe CFW Walther preached about this many years ago.

  13. Leistico
    September 22nd, 2010 at 13:15 | #14

    perhaps better titled, “The Top 24 Hymns Chosen by Someone for Lutherans to Sing”. I could be happy to sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” only once a year or less, but I am in the minority opinion on this hymn in my congregation.

  14. Lindsey
    September 22nd, 2010 at 14:20 | #15

    What bad theology is contained in Amazing Grace? What is so wrong about John Newton writing “the hour I first believed?” It is totally biblical. One is saved through faith (believing) in Jesus.

  15. Diane Hammond
    September 22nd, 2010 at 15:34 | #16

    Lindsey :
    What bad theology is contained in Amazing Grace? What is so wrong about John Newton writing “the hour I first believed?” It is totally biblical. One is saved through faith (believing) in Jesus.

    Hi Lindsey,
    I’m certainly not an expert on critiquing hymns, so Pastors out there help me out, but I’ll give it a try. Lutheran Service Book doesn’t include stanza 2. Here’s the original stanza:

    ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    and grace my fears relieved;
    how precious did that grace appear
    the hour I first believed!

    I think the first line is a problem because “grace” didn’t teach my heart to fear, God’s Law did.
    It is the Law that shows me my sins. I think the last line is also a problem because it is implying that it was my decision to believe. It is the decision theology in that line that would be incorrect.
    As the explanation of the 3rd article clearly states, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

    The last two lines of Newton’s original 5th stanza are changed in LSB and his 6th stanza isn’t included. I’m not real sure why this is, so pastors help!

  16. EGK
    September 22nd, 2010 at 16:18 | #17

    Lindsey @15, you ask a fair question. Some, I think, have an issue with that line because Newton’s own experience is not that of all of us, who, baptized as infants and taught by our parents the moment we began to speak, never have had a time in our conscious lives when we did not believe. That’s why that particular verse is missing from Missouri Synod hymnals. Hymns need to address the universal experience of the church, and not the particulars of single individuals.

    I think one issue is that Jesus is never explicitly mentioned in the hymn. I have heard it used in situations where there is no Christian content at all, in which case it becomes an exercise in self deception. Done in a context of the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ crucified, there is no real theological problem.

    We can also add that we Lutherans have a tendency, for good or for ill, to eschew overly sentimental hymns in favour of proclamatory ones with strong theological content, and also prefer (at least the pastors do!) melodies that come out of “high culture” (there’s an elitist phrase for you!) rather than popular culture.

  17. Helen
    September 22nd, 2010 at 21:35 | #18

    I like most the hymns on this list. I just discovered a great Paul Gerhardt hymn,
    LSB 683. Wonderful lyrics and a beautiful tune!

  18. September 22nd, 2010 at 21:36 | #19

    @ Lindsey and EGK – Good question Lindsey, and a good response EGK.
    I’ve always agreed to requests to sing this hymn in funerals, but only because in the context of the proclamation of the gospel that takes place in a funeral the hymn will be received in an orthodox (right-believing) manner.

    Btw, EGK, I suspect Amazing Grace is just as popular in Australia (and possibly Britain) as in the US, where it doesn’t have the cultural connotations that you mention and where the evangelical revival culture has always been marginalised rather than mainstream, as it seems to is to be in the US. Why? I can’t say, except that perhaps it is an exceptionally potent combination of words and music that speaks to ordinary folk, or rather, perhaps, enables them to give voice to their need for grace.

  19. Helen
    September 22nd, 2010 at 21:37 | #20

    If it was good enough for Kurt Marquart, it’s good enough for me!@mike woolery

    • September 23rd, 2010 at 05:58 | #21

      I agree Helen! There is *way* too much energy spent on attacking this hymn. I would urge everyone to watch the movie “Amazing Grace” and you will never sing Amazing Grace the same way again.

  20. September 23rd, 2010 at 05:56 | #22

    John Newton was not a revivalist: he was a Calvinist in the then nascent [Anglican] Evangelical movement. Witness the line from ‘Glorious things of thee are spoken’ changed in the LSB from “Saviour, if of Zion’s city I by grace a member am” to “Saviour, since…”.

    Amazing grace isn’t a hymn: it’s a spiritual song. Therefore, one can question its appropriateness for universal use such as divine service. Although of course everyone had the hour when they first believed, even if that was as an infant at baptism. It’s unlikely that Newton was referring here to his decision, given his general theological views.

    I personally think that the flak against v. 2 is over the top. Yes, the vocabulary is not Lutheranish (grace teaching our hearts to fear). However, would we not say that it is by the grace of God that His law softens us to pulp and drives us to Christ, instead of our hearts being hardened like the Pharaoh’s and half the world’s? Part of the work of the Holy Spirit, no? Yes, we would prefer a different wording, but is the sentiment so terrible?

    On another note, would “I will sing my Maker’s praises” feature on this list had it not been relegated to the graveyard of the asterisked hymns in the Accompaniment for the Hymns edition (why?!)? It jolly well ought to.

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