Last year, we ended our Religion & Story Podcast’s season by asking what the best Christian songs were. We’ve been searching for the answer to the question during the intervening months—is the best Christian song a classic hymn or a tune playing on the radio today—or something in between? To finally answer this question, we decided to launch our 2018 Best Christian Song, Hymn, and Spiritual Tournament to get to the bottom of this. After weeks of voting and a few shocking results, we finally determined the best Church song to be:
It Is Well With My Soul
“It Is Well With My Soul” is a classic hymn that means a great deal to many of the voters that have grown up singing its poetic, inspiring lyrics. There is a reason it was able to stand alongside such powerful songs as “Amazing Grace” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Administering this bracket has been a wonderful experience, and we encourage anyone who has enjoyed it to check-out and subscribe to our podcast!
Some thoughts from voters on the Final Four:
Our God, He Is Alive
It has been joked that “Our God, He Is Alive” is the Church of Christ anthem—hence its “728B” nickname. And as a college student, that sometimes bugs me. It reminds me of all the CoC baggage that can turn people off. I also don’t sing it very much anymore—probably because of the church I go to. But I think because of that, because of that connection with years gone by and the fact that I almost never sing it—on those rare occasions where I do sing it, it becomes that much more sweetly nostalgic. I am reminded of the saints before me who stood in Church of Christ auditoriums and joyfully sang that song—some in their final years, others (like my parents) when they were school-aged. In every case, it is my link to my own people’s past.
How Great Thou Art
“How Great Thou Art” is an uplifting song. For some, that’s obvious. For me, I had never thought twice about its pure joy until the saddest point in my life: the death of my father. I sang it the first Sunday after his death, and I was brought to tears. But not tears of sadness, tears of joy because I knew how great the God was that my father served. I’ve been told since then that “How Great Thou Art” went through some sort of translation journey to get to us today. I’m not sure what that journey was, but I’m glad it made it—I will forever be grateful for this song.
It Is Well With My Soul
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford and composed by Philip P. Bliss in 1876. Many know the story of why and how this song was written (if you don’t, it is well worth the read), and I can’t help but think about that when I sing the song. One part of the story that we might pass over is that Spafford’s family was going across the ocean to encourage D. L. Moody, a minister of the gospel. We often sing verses 1, 3, and 5—but 2 and 4 are worth singing too. Verse 2 reminds us that Christ didn’t simply die for us, but did so after reflecting on our helplessness, showing all the more our value to Him. Verse 4 uses a strange word—“whisper”—to show us the personal connection that Jesus has with our suffering and the gentle care he has for us. This song will be comforting the hurting Christian for generations to come.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
This song is a personal favorite. Not just for its sweet, folkish melody, but for its poetic language. It was only while I was in school that I truly realized how rich the lyrics were of Robert Robinson’s hymn. He uses powerful terms, exacting language, and uncommon names—everyone’s favorite, of course, being “Ebenezer.” But Robinson crafts language not just for the exoticism but convey the dramatic relationship between God and his creatures. It is an inspiring poem that Robinson gives us, one that reminds us of our fallen nature, but also spurs us toward redemption and sings the joys of a hope in God’s redemption.