I’ve been inspired since reading Worship Leader magazine’s Top 20 Songs in the Last 20 Years to continue my series on the Epochal Songs of the Praise and Worship Movement.
So we go to the year 1992…
Geoff Bullock’s “Power of Your Love” in my opinion, was one of the defining songs for the Australian praise and worship scene. Even though there had already been some notable contributors from Australia on the worldwide stage (Phil Pringle and Mal Fletcher come to mind), this song put Hillsong (then Hills Christian Life Centre) on the map. Within a short number of years, Hillsong would not only greatly impact the praise and worship movement, it would also be one of the leading shapers of the movement.
In fact, I remember in 1992 at the age of 15 going to a powerful youth camp where “Power of Your Love” was sung as the theme song. I think my friend Daryl Tan and some others led the worship each session. And each session, we sang “Power of Your Love”. On the last night, Russell Sage described in gruesome detail how Christ suffered on the cross. Before the days of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, you’d be surprised how powerfully words can paint a picture when coupled with a fertile imagination! As we sang this song to close the meeting, tears just streamed down my face as I was captured by the agony of Christ’s sacrifice. I was being changed by the power of His love.
That camp was a milestone in my Christian walk. I came away deeply impacted knowing that I would serve and love God the best I could no matter what.
I have been leading worship for the last 19 years within the Charismatic Renewal and I have seen the style (and to some extent) the content of our worship evolve. Rewind 20 years back and it would have been unimaginable for the church back then that we would sing the types of songs we sing today.
The instrumentation has changed. From keyboard-driven and big band orchestral music, the forerunner music of today’s worship is guitar-driven grunge and electronic techno.
We have also moved on from traditional hymnology to a much more prophetic, apostolic lyric but at the same time, injecting elements of heartfelt personal poetry and imagery. Worship music is beginning to bridge the cultural divide between sacred and secular.
The praise and worship movement had its origins in the 1960’s. Two streams were particularly influential: presentation blue-grass gospel songs (popularised by the Gaithers) and the Jesus People movement (which brought rock-and-roll music and musicians into the church). (It is interesting to see even then how the generations converged in Charismatic worship).
Since then, those on the cutting edge have continued to revolutionise worship music, bringing to it strong artistic merit without comprising biblical content.
An epoch means an era or season. And so when I refer to “epochal songs”, I am referring to songs that are significant to an era or season of the church in one of two ways: either it defines the season (i.e. it captures and articulates the heartcry of the church at a moment in time, usually an emotion or perspective which was felt but not yet expressed) or it is defining of the season (i.e. it catapults the church into a new prophetic direction).
Here, I want to list what I believe are the epochal songs of the praise and worship movement. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this but my opinion is based on extensive reading, listening and thinking about praise and worship and also experiencing it first hand for the last 22 years of my Christian walk.
So here they are – my list of the 15 epochal songs of the praise and worship movement in chronological order:
- All Hail King Jesus (Dave Moody, 1977)
- Give Thanks (Henry Smith, 1978)
- I Love You, Lord (Laurie Klein, 1978)
- As the Deer (Martin Nystrom, 1984)
- Ancient of Days (Jamie Harvill and Gary Sadler, 1992)
- Power of Your Love (Geoff Bullock, 1992)
- Shout to the Lord (Darlene Zschech, 1993)
- Everything That Has Breath (Michelle Hira/Parachute Band, 1994)
- I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (Martin Smith/Delirious, 1994)
- Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble (Martin Smith/Delirious, 1994)
- Breathe (Marie Barnett, 1995)
- History Maker (Martin Smith/Delirious, 1996)
- The Heart of Worship (Matt Redman, 1997)
- How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash and Jesse Reeves, 2004)
- How He Loves Us (John Mark McMillan, 2005)
In my next several posts, I will explain why I have picked these songs and their significance to the worship life of the church. You may not agree with my list or you may think other songs should be included. What would be interesting for me (as a bit of social research) is to hear your thoughts on my list. What songs do you think should be here? Why do you think they are significant? I look forward to reading your comments!