Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Ten Bethel Songs of 2010

I've never really done a top ten songs list, but I've enjoyed making this one. It's forced me to think about those special worship moments of last year and it's also challenged me to form some ideas of what makes a song stand out. How do you even decide what ten songs "worked"? I'm not sure I have the answer, but I've tried my best.

10. Maker of My Days (Todd Wright)
Oh, yeah. Starting off with my own song! However, this tune represents the first song I wrote after coming to Bethel that connected with the congregation. I had written a few things, but by God's grace, this song resonated with our people and seemed to offer some real encouragement to folks who were hurting. It ended up being one of the most "commented" on songs at Bethel and for that reason it makes the list.

9. You Alone Can Satisfy (Ross King)
I've loved this song for years. I think it's one of the best things Ross has ever written and I was excited to play it at Bethel. However, I was surprised at how instantly it became a part of our song catalog. It's as if the song perfectly met a need that was already inside of us - this longing, even lamenting, song gave voice to our prayers and seem to empower our congregation to focus on Christ's supremacy.

8. Glory To God Forever (Fee)
This one worked on a purely rock n' roll level. It was a hard one for us a band, but once we had it down, it became a song that we can fully dive into. The song is great, but Bethelites seem to gravitate more to the overall passion and dedication more than any particular lyric.

7. Lead On, O King Eternal (Enfield)
What a surprise this one was! I loved the overall vibe of this tune - great music, cool hymn about Christ as victor. But I had no idea it would garner the response that it did. I love hymns, but teaching one that's "new" to people is a gamble. But whereas the old favorites tend to invite all kinds of worship, the new ones often force folks to process the lyrics, which we need more of in this world.

6. Our Father In Heaven (Brian Doerksen)
This is another older tune that I've always loved. However, I've never done it close to Doerksen's version. I usually modified it a great deal, but once at Bethel, we played it closer to the original version. This one works for the simple fact that it reminds us of just how powerful the "Lord's Prayer" is. As we sing it, we are challenged to truly pray these phrases and not just recite them. Bethel seemed to like that even as a paraphrase, the spirit is the same.

5. Pass It On (Tommy Walker)
I never jumped on the Tommy Walker bandwagon, but this song ended up being perfect for us. The more nuanced chord structures allowed our piano and keyboard players to strut their stuff a little bit and the straight groove gave us a rhythmic approach that we had never really tried. I think this one worked at Bethel because it worked as a band. I think the musicians enjoying what they were playing and singing made this one a memorable tune.

4. O Help My Unbelief (Indelible Grace)
This Indelible Grace tune was my first foray into "Hey, here's an old hymn none of us have heard before." The song worked musically because it allowed us to utilize mandolin for the first time. It worked thematically because we taught during a series where our pastor was preaching on doubting, faith, security, etc. I expected this one to be an intellectual exercise for our people, but I was shocked at how many folks enjoyed actually singing it.

3. Brand New Day (Don Poythress)
Personally, this has to be my favorite thing we've done this year. I think Don's music is the perfect mix of country and pop and I wish more churches were using it. Yes, it's a fantastic, fun romp, but the lyrics are perfectly paced - the phrasing, the poetry, it all works to create a powerful anthem of God's miracle power in our lives. This one quickly became a band favorite, but I was more grateful that our congregation took to it so strongly.

2. The Father's Love (Sovereign Grace)
You don't have to suggest SovGrace songs more than once to me. I'm a SovGrace junkie and I look for every opportunity to do their stuff! Once again, this song took on special purpose as we introduced during our series on adoption. While our series focused on actual, physical adoption, this song gave us a Biblical framework that we could recognize our own need before the Father. The groove of this song was perfect for our team and I don't think I've enjoyed a key change more.

1. God With Us (Mercy Me)
Has to be our #1 song of 2010. We modified it slightly to make it more congregational, and it was a great song for our church family. It certainly helped that some of our folks knew it from the radio, but I think it was more a matter of finding a song that is so humble in it's approach. This tune is a clinic on humble, God-centered writing. Church culture is selfish, filled with Jesus-is-my-boyfriend songs and this one was a great anthem that reminds us that the work, the honor, the fame, the purpose and the power is all God's.

This is by no means a retirement list. Many of these songs will stay active, but I'm looking forward to adding new approaches and taking another set of worship risks this year.