I've written on here before about why I have so many issues with Christian songs and, more specifically, Christian worship songs. I listed a few of my favorite worship songs in that original blog post, but have decided to repost here a worship playlist I made for a good friend earlier this year. The list is about half Christian music and half not, but they're all songs that I am able to connect to in my relationship with God. I've provided YouTube links whenever possible.
1. "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble
This song always makes me feel worshipful and close to God. One of the most easily relatable praise songs, for those days when you're just grateful for everything you have.
2. "Rhythm in Me" from Altar Boyz
This was a musical that made fun of Christian boy bands... but, man, do I like this song. It's a beautifully silly dance song that makes me laugh and dance and enjoy the fact that, yes, God did put the rhythm in me. Or, well, at least in other, more talented people.
3. "Trucker Hat" by Bowling For Soup
Although this song is clearly about a girl, I've morphed it to a worship song anyway. It's about being with somebody and realizing that they've made you a better person and being amazed that you get to be associated with them at all... all thoughts I like connecting back to God.
4. "The Spark of Creation" from Children of Eden
From a musical about the book of Genesis (and one of my favorite shows). When I discovered this song I fell completely head over heels in love with it. It's a beautiful expression how art and creativity is a gift right from God, and there's so much joy in it.
5. "Someone Else's Clothes" by Jason Robert Brown
Another fantastic song about being changed for the better by someone you love... which I like to appropriate for worship. It also has some of the *best* opening lines of all time in a song.
6. "To Know You" by Nichole Nordeman
Moving from upbeat songs into more contemplative songs. This became a favorite back when I first heard it in 1999 or so and has stayed one since then. I've always loved how Nichole Nordeman isn't afraid to approach doubt or darkness in her lyrics. This song captures the desire to know God, the desire to be better, coupled with the knowledge that, well, we kind of suck at that.
7. "Small Enough" by Nichole Nordeman
I didn't mean to put two of my Nichole Nordeman songs together on here (there are two more coming up - she's just that good). But here goes. I LOVE this song. There are times when it has brought me to tears. It's one of the ones I've sometimes sat in a dark room and listened to over and over again as I prayed. I love that it doesn't try to negate God as the big, awesome king who saves us the way some more personal love-songs-to-God do... it just acknowledges that sometimes we just need God to kind of shrink himself and be close to us.
8. "I Need a Hero" by Chris Rice
He and Nichole Nordeman are very similar stylistically and lyrically, so it's no surprise that I love him a lot too. I love the vulnerability and the melancholy feel in this song. It's sort of the flip side of "Small Enough" - instead of needing God to be small and intimate, it's about needing him to be bigger than us.
9. "Hold Me Jesus" by Rich Mullins
Here's an oldie but a goodie. As you may have picked up on by now, I'm really drawn to vulnerable "I need you, God" songs. This song is one of the ones that always makes me think of those times when I'm awake at 3 in the morning having anxiety attacks or just plain stressing about life... and I just need God to be there and reassure me.
10. "Every Season" by Nichole Nordeman
Here she is again! This song is beautifully poetic and offers a gorgeous portrayal of finding God in everything.
11. "All the Wasted Time" from Parade
Let's break up the string of actual Christian songs with a showtune that is clearly a love song... and, wow, does it get to me. I was listening to my MP3 player on shuffle one day and this song came on and I just realized that it was, in so many ways, how I felt about God.
12. "Take My Hand" by Shawn McDonald
This one's harder to explain why I like because it's just kind of a gut reaction. I do know I really like the fast-moving pace of these lyrics and the simplicity of that last main line of the chorus: "And I need you."
13. "Replace Me" by Family Force 5
People tend to either love or hate FF5 - I love them. Most of their songs are not even close to being worship songs, but this one really works for me, especially the chorus, which becomes a high-energy, desperate plea for God to change who we are.
14. "He Reigns" by Newsboys
I'm really not a fan of Newsboys' new stuff in general, but I really like this one, even if it did then get overplayed. I love the grandness and the inclusivity of it all. It's not just about an individual relationship (although as you can see I obviously love those songs too). It's about the power of worship throughout all the world, in all languages, but still singing the same things, essentially the same song. That's such a beautiful idea to me.
15. "You Move Me" by Susan Ashton
As someone who deals with fear a lot, this is almost exactly my experience with God - I find myself frozen, scared to move anywhere or do anything, and God manages to be the one to give me the courage to move forward. I love that it's such a personal example of how God influences our lives. Not just "I was sad, now I'm happy" - it's a very specific experience that I relate to strongly.
16. "On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492" from Songs for a New World
This is kind of an odd choice - it's a long song, and it's sung by Christopher Columbus on his way to America. But it's a showtune that's actually sung directly to God about feeling unguided and worried that maybe things aren't going to work out. I love the cry that begins halfway through: "Lord, take my hand, I am not strong enough, I am not strong enough."
17. "Take Away My Dreams" by Groovelily
This was not originally in my worship playlist, but it is in my "crying out to God" playlist, and that is *exactly* what it is. Another one I've listened to on repeat over and over again. Sometimes it feels like God gives me dreams and then doesn't let me fulfill them, and that is exactly when this song comes in handy.
18. "I Am" by Nichole Nordeman
The last Nordeman song on the list. It's especially meaningful to me because of having pretty much grown up with God. I love the theme of remembering God's interactions and meeting of needs throughout life.
19. "A Little Longer" by Brian & Jenn Johnson
This one has a bit of a story behind it. I was visiting NLDC and one morning during our prayer time, the guy leading it started pushing us to pray harder, stay more focused, we needed to stop thinking of ourselves and just focus on God. I was having trouble connecting to God that morning and found myself frustrated and discouraged, feeling like I was just unable to push myself that far and therefore it was all my fault and I failed God.
The next day I was dreading going back to worship time. I just didn't want to deal with that again. But that morning, the girl who led it said, "I don't know why. I just feel like we're supposed to listen to this CD quietly today." And this song was on it... and it was absolutely a message from God. The first half spoke to my frustration of being unable to communicate: "No matter how I try, I can't thank you enough." The second half was God responding to me, telling me: "You don't have to do a thing, just sit and be with me and let those things go." I sat in a corner of the room, listening to the song, tears streaming down my face, so relieved that God was telling me he really didn't care how hard I was pushing myself, how hard I was working to connect with him on my own... he just wanted me to be there with him. No pressure. No hoops to jump through. He just wanted me there.
20. "I'd Give It All For You" from Songs for a New World
Sometimes you hear a song and it suddenly takes on a whole new context. I was listening to this one day and it suddenly hit me as a song between God and me, during a time when I was kind of on the run from God and not wanting to really connect with him. The guy's part is sung from God to me (although it's a little shakier and more vulnerable than God probably is, I do like that kind of aspect - that God loves me enough that it does distress him when I run from him) and the girl's part is me to God, realizing that I needed to go back to him.
21. "Music of Heaven" by Jason Robert Brown
My all-time favorite worship song. Man, talk about a description of a specific experience... This song is about having so many analytical, cynical barriers up during worship that you find yourself unable to reach God... but desperately, *desperately* wanting to. This song breaks me down every time I hear it. It's so beautiful.
22. "And Now My Lifesong Sings" by Casting Crowns
The one that gave me the idea for this whole playlist to begin with. As I said in chat, I love how simple and sweet this is. No emotional manipulation, just a quiet declaration of praise.
23. "I Feel So Much Spring" from A New Brain
This song has just recently become a favorite. It's become one of my favorite "life is good" songs. I love the metaphors used to describe the different feelings of happiness. There's *so much* joy in this song. It's become one of my very favorite worship songs of deep contentment and praise.