This song has became a worship standard around the world and a trigger song because of its simplicity and its intimacy.
I remember a powerful moment in 2002 at a Planetshakers conference in Adelaide when Sam Evans was trying to encourage the delegates to worship on their own. After a very brief sharing, she left the platform and left us all to our own devices! The initial thought that went through most of our heads was “what do we do now for the next 30 minutes?”
One by one, each person in the crowd began to purpose to worship, completely unaided by music.
People began to lift up their own songs to the Lord and then someone began to sing “I Love You Lord” and within seconds, all 500 or so people gathered began to resonate with it and lifted up their voices together in harmony. It was a beautiful moment in sharing together our love for God.
Today, even in the midst of the technicalities of aspiring to create cutting edge music, there are moments when the worship crescendos followed by silence. And then, softly breaking through that silence, is the intimate refrain of “I love You Lord, and I lift my voice….” I’ve been in many meetings like that and I have no doubt that this song will continue to be part of the worship vernacular for a long time to come.
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!