Why Chris Tomlin Still Dominates Both Radio and Sunday Morning

News & Reporting | 9/20/2019 | Staff
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Each week, most churches across America turn to a relatively narrow list of songs to give voice to the congregations’ corporate praise since in recent years that Sunday morning music has increasingly resembled Christian radio playlists.

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Faithlife - Music - Worship - Songs - Years

Faithlife Music ranked the top worship songs, based on three years of data from 10,000 churches using its software to display lyrics. Some familiar names appear over and over on the list. Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Bethel Music, and Matt Redman were collectively responsible for half of the the top 20 songs:

“How Great Thou Art”

Faithlife - Music - Songs - Rankings - Copyright

Faithlife Music’s trending songs resemble the latest rankings by Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI); 16 of them appear on both lists’ top 20.

But Faithlife’s data omits one segment of the evangelical world—worshippers who do not read words on a screen because they have a hymnal in their hands. A 2018 survey by LifeWay Research found that nearly 70 percent of Protestant churches use hymnals. For churches with less than 50 attendees, 85 percent use hymnals.

Hymnals - Domination - Charles - Wesley - Isaac

Hymnals reflect a domination of their own; Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and **** Crosby wrote a disproportionate number of beloved Christian songs.

Wesley alone wrote over 8,900 hymns, almost as many as Crosby, who penned over 9,000 and is best known for “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.” Watts wrote considerably fewer, but with titles like, “Joy to the World” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” nearly every Protestant church has sung his lyrics.

Songs - Faithlife - Hymns - Great - Thou

Two of the songs on Faithlife’s top 20 were traditional hymns, “How Great Thou Art” and Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” which has additional contemporary lyrics.

While Wesley is celebrated as the greatest hymn writer of all time for his output (and his role, along with his brother John, in the founding of Methodism), his contemporary...
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