Top Ten Songs of Summer
Confession: I love every type of music. I love rap, rock, folk, classical, Americana, film scores, Celtic, funk, jazz, electronic, trap, country, and all the rest. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a musician. Whatever might be the cause, music has always been an important part of my life. I can tell you what month of what year I first heard most of my favorite albums. I have albums that I only play certain times of the year, and I am never, ever afraid to express my opinions about a particular artist. But when I became a believer, my love for music escalated like never before. I quickly discovered that music, unlike almost any other medium, has an incredible power to turn the human heart towards Jesus. As a result, I regularly have a short catalog of soul-stirring, Jesus-exalting tracks that encourage my devotional life. My aim with this post is to share ten of those tracks that have been especially meaningful this summer. I’ve listed them in descending order, saving the best for last.
I discovered this song in June of 2009 (I told you!), but revisit it over and over again. This track has a particular shuffle feel to it that I love. But even more than that, I love that this song sings about the Word. The Psalmists frequently adore God by adoring His Word in song, something we rarely do. This song invites the listener to sing along with the Psalmist, delighting in God’s Word.
Favorite line: Morning and evening we come / To delight in the words of our God, / Give us eyes to see, give us faith to hear / That the Word has come, that the Word is here
This song has a fun rock feel, but make no mistake, this song is the anthem of the Christian: “It is finished!” One of my continued frustrations with more anthemic, happy Christian songs is how often they seem to be celebrating ephemeral, subjective, substance-less things (with the obligatory chorus of “Ooo – Ooo –Ooo’s”). But if there is any news worth shouting and singing from the rooftops, it’s the Gospel message that in Christ, “it is finished!”
Favorite line: There's no sacrifice to offer / There's no penance to complete / Freely drink of living water / Without money come and feast
This song is a perfect blend of beautiful lyrics and beautiful instrumentation. I’m always a sucker for repurposed hymns, but the lyrics of this song are particularly powerful and so formative for us as we learn to pray with Jesus, “Father, thy will be done.”
Favorite line: If Thou shouldst call me to resign, / What most I prize, it ne’er was mine. / I only yield Thee what was Thine / Thy will be done
Growing up in a traditional Southern Baptist church, I wasn’t ever exposed to the great creeds of our faith. Over the course of the last few years, however, I’ve discovered the richness that comes from declaring these great truths of the Christian story alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. This song allows us to sing the words of our faith to a catchy tune that can aid in teaching and reinforcing the Creed.
Favorite line: It’s the Apostles Creed. I don’t think I’m allowed to choose one line….
This song is a wonderful, soulful, Americana, Nashville-style rearrangement of the classic hymn, “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul.” This group happens to be fronted by one of my favorite artists out there – Zach Williams of The Lone Bellow (a band with which you should acquaint yourself pronto!)
Favorite line: Thy mercy seat is open still, / Here let my soul retreat / With humble hope attend Thy will, / And wait beneath Thy feet,
This familiar melody is appropriated with beautiful, Christ-exalting lyrics written by Dustin Kensure of the Modern Post. Most folks’ familiarity with this melody make this an easy song to implement congregationally. Our church has done so and takes great delight in singing, “All glory be to Christ!” over, and over again.
Favorite line: When on the day the great I Am / The faithful and the true / The Lamb who was for sinners slain / Is making all things new.
This song is particularly powerful given the tragic summer we’ve endured as a country. The music is haunting, the lyrics are simple, but together the song speaks powerfully to the Christian call to “love your enemy.” Taking their cue from the story of Cain and Abel, that of Jacob and Esau, and ultimately the teachings of Jesus, this group powerfully challenges our nationalism, racism, unforgiveness, and pride. I especially love the chorus after the bridge around 2:30 when the vocalist jumps an octave and the rest of the instrumentation kicks in.
Favorite line: When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.
This song is utterly captivating. When I read men like Jonathan Edwards, I often find my heart salivating – for lack of a better word – for eternity. I’d never had this experience outside of reading folks like Edwards and Piper, until I heard this song. For whatever reason, God used this specific track to lift my heart to new heights with the simple, but beautiful truth of the great feast that awaits God’s people.
Favorite line: We will feast in the house of Zion / We will sing with our hearts restored / He has done great things, we will say together / We will feast and weep no more
I stumbled across this song in October of 2014 at the recommendation of our worship leader. This group has a fun folk feel to it and is perfect for driving with the windows down. But the best element of this song is how the lyrics cleverly celebrate our inability to keep the law, Christ’s perfect obedience on our behalf, and the manner in which Christ’s pardon compels us to “choose His ways.” Seriously, this song is brilliant.
Favorite line: Now, freely chosen in the Son, I freely choose His ways
The singer declares in the first verse: “I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path; For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast!” Indeed, all followers of Christ know the speed with which our hearts grow cold. What can be done? The chorus reminds us: He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast; For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.”
What better news is there than this? If not for Christ’s sustaining grace, we would all fall away. But He loves us and actively keeps us. There are some songs I am sure we will be singing in eternity. By the grace of Jesus, this song is not one of them. Unless of course we change the lyrics, “He has held me fast.”
Favorite line: I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path / For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.