About the Author

Tsh Oxenreider is the author of Notes From a Blue Bike and the founder of The Art of Simple. She's host of The Simple Show, and her passion is to inspire people that 'living simply' means making room for more of the stuff that really matters, and that the right,...

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  1. Tsh,
    I grew up singing all these hymns as a girl and it’s amazing how many of the words and melodies have stuck with me. I loved your peak behind the scenes on how each of the hymns came to be. I have probably sung the Doxology thousands of times, but never knew just what Doxology meant. Just goes to show you are never too old to learn. Though I worship with more contemporary music now, you are right that these hymns are our heritage. I would have to say my soul resonates the most with “Just As I Am”. I am so thankful that I can come to my God, just as I am, and He calls me His child. Thanks for a wonderful post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. Great choices! Have you ever seen the book “Then Sings My Soul”? It has the history of 150 hymns. Really inspiring stories in there that will give you a whole new appreciation of the hymns! Check it out!

      • There are 2 volumes. I bought them for my grandma a few years ago (she played the piano, LOVES music, especially hymns), and they were her favorite gift ever.

        • I have those too! Actually, I think there are 3 volumes plus a special holiday volume. I was given some of them and have enjoyed reading them as part of my quiet time this summer.

  3. Just yesterday I made a new playlist of hymns. I just felt like, as much as I love my contemporary worship music, that I needed to hear the words of the Gospel over and over again. I would have to say that Rock of Ages is at the top of my list. The line that says “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling and the reminder that I can hide myself in Christ brings rest and comfort to me. Others I have on my list that aren’t on yours include: There Is A Fountain, Fairest Lord Jesus, This Is My Father’s World, and Blessed Assurance. All of yours are on mine, except for one. I love how the Holy Spirit speaks truth to us through these songs as we live our lives all around the world in so many different circumstances of life.

  4. Thank you SOOO much for this beautiful compilation! I pressed play immediately! Peace overtook my soul right away…

  5. Amazing Grace still moves me to tears when I hear it. Praise God He knows how to move us and speak to our hearts And souls. Amen.

  6. I grew up in the Methodist church and my mother instilled a love of music in my heart and mind . My favorites are: It Is Well With My Soul, Blessed Assurance and Great is Thy Faithfulness. Thanks for this great post.

  7. Oh wow, Tsh – GREAT list! My all-time fave, and I’m telling everybody to be sure to sing it at my funeral because I can’t think of a better way to go out:
    Jesus Paid It All.

  8. One of my all-time favorites is “He Lives.” Our minister (he has moved away now) used to give his Easter sermon and towards the end as he was preaching the piano would start quietly playing the tune. Then he would belt it out and I would bawl. Every.Single.Time. “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!” Goosebumps!

  9. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is my all-time favorite. When I was single and oh-so-lonely, every time I needed a hug from Papa God about my future husband, I would hear “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” playing on the radio, or in church, or somewhere else. It became His love letter to me; His way of telling me “I know you’re lonely, but I’ve got it under control. I will be faithful to you.” In 2006, when I married the love of my life, my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to a congregational singing of that song. “Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not! As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.”

  10. I heard all the words to these hymns in my head as I read the titles, I didn’t even need to listen to them. I had such an overwhelming sense of the presence of the Lord it just blew me away. What a level of intimacy these authors had with the Lord and their expression of that is still touching hearts hundreds of years later! Wow! Thank you!

  11. All-time favourite hymn? Definitely “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. “Before the Throne” and “To God be the Glory” would make up my top 3.

  12. These are beautiful! I would add Crown Him With Many Crowns, and And Can It Be That I Should Gain? Actually, too many to list here.

    I grew up Roman Catholic, and they also have some powerful hymns, All Hail the Power of Jesus Name, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, This is My Father’s World, We Sing the Greatness of Our God, etc.

    Even though I am no longer a practicing Roman Catholic since becoming born again, I still think of these songs, and also think of the songs associated with the church calendar that are only sung during these seasons.

    Thank you Tsh,

    Joanne

    • I know those songs well, and I wasn’t raised Catholic… let’s just say they’re ALL our songs. 🙂 That’s what I love about so many hymns; how they unify us.

      Some of those songs were ones I needed to delete to keep this post not 18 pages long. Perhaps I’ll need to create a follow-up playlist and post…

  13. Love all of these, especially Be Thou My Vision. Check out the new version by Rend Collective. One of my favorites is My Hope is Built On Nothing Less. So much great theology in these old hymns. Thanks for the article!

  14. “It Is Well” will always have a special place in my heart. The Sunday after our former pastor resigned amid a huge scandal one of our church overseers stood at the pulpit and led the congregation in this song. A profound moment.

  15. My favourite hymn…too many to count. it depends on the season I am walking through. Will your Anchor hold reminds me of my mother, Ride on Ride on in Majesty, Day is Dying in the West, I Heard the Voice of Jesus say, In Christ Alone…

    Having grown up in a Christian home with a very Baptist mom – music was a part of every day life. I have sung them, learned to sight read by going page by page through the church hymnal. They constantly jump to mind as I journey through this life.

    Powerful teachers of scripture and God’s truth, I cherish well written hymnody – new and old.

  16. I have so many favorites. Beautiful Savior, Borning Cry, Softly and Tenderly, and What a Friend We Have in Jesus (top favorite at this moment).

    I love our traditional Lutheran church with organ and hymns every Sunday. These aren’t the songs of my youth, as I was raised an Atheist, but these hymns hold such truth, such wonder! Love this list — How Great Thou Art is amazing!

  17. I have enjoyed this so much but I am having difficulty getting some of the songs to play. I am new to this and not techno savvy. Thank you.

  18. I am unable to listen to any of the songs – none of the links play. It opens to an error page.
    Help???

  19. Thanks for the list but I couldn’t listen unfortunately because I don’t do Facebook. However, these can all be found on the internet. Beautiful hymns. We still sing many of them in church even today.

  20. As a history and trivia lover, I greatly appreciated this post. Most surprising was how long ago “Be Thou My Vision” was written, and the number of hymns St. Francis wrote. But what delighted my heart even more is the long roster of comments from younger readers who appreciate the old hymns. You explained so well, Tsh, why they’re worth passing down to future generations: they are the poetry of our history and are doctrinally-rich.

    P.S. Two more favorites: To God Be the Glory and Wonderful Grace of Jesus.

  21. LOVE the list! My very favorite is How Great Thou Art for a bunch of reasons. Not the least of which is hearing my precious Grandmother belt it out even though her voice wasn’t a choir-worthy one. It sounded like heaven to me.

  22. Love love LOVE the old hymns! Pick ONE favorite? Impossible!!!Truly…Stand in agreement with most of yours. Praise to the Lord the Almighty …All Praise to Thee for Thou O King Divine… Abide With Me…Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know…Crown Him with Many Crowns…All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name-either version-one better than the next…And Can it Be That I Should Gain…could go on and on. These songs make my heart sing and help me come into the presence of God whenever I do!

  23. I LOVE contemporary Christian music. I need it; I listen to it daily. It speaks to me and leads me closer to God. However, THANK you for taking me back to my roots, to my childhood church with my parents sitting next to me, and hearing in my memory my mother singing “Because He Lives”. Thanks for this blessing today! Robin

  24. All great hymns, and most of them are precious to me however, one glaring omission, Fanny J. Crosby’s Bessed Assurance!

  25. I learn something new every day!! I’d never heard of Spotify but we have to buy the app. But I’m sure these hymns are on YouTube anyway!! I giggle because I’m telling my husband of this list and he googles it and (in) courage pops up and we compare and your list is different!! Did you put up two lists?!!
    I love your list. Holy, Holy, Holy is my favorite. It makes me think of going to visit church with my Grandma and Grandpa and we sang that which I later found out was sung weekly in the Norwegian Lutheran Churches in middle America (in English!). My husband sang Come Thou Fount at my Dad and my sister’s services as my Mom requested. The hymn moves me. I have a traumatic brain injury now and the Holy Spirit brings all things to mind and for me it is many hymns. My injury is to my part of brain to control emotion and understanding. So I will weep, and often I sing hymns and the words flow and I am helped. God is good. Oh wow!! He got the 30 day free trial and so we are listening to Be Thou My Vision!!! We like it!!!

  26. I was not raised in church, since I was raised in a Jewish home, so I love reading the history behind the hymns. Your playlist is beautiful. Thank you.

  27. Thank you for making such a wonderful list! Love learning the history behind these songs as well. Never be able to sing them the same way again. Thank you again!

  28. Great list! We have very similar taste in music. I’ve enjoyed listening to your playlist today. Thanks for sharing this.

  29. Love this list! We get up early to make it to our church’s early “traditional” service where we sit with our three kids and bring down the average age of the congregation significantly! It can be so hard to get us all there at 8:15, but when I hear the music I know it’s worth it. A great book of hymns for kids is Hymns for a Kid’s Heart. There is also a Christmas volume.

    • I have the Christmas one, but I’ve been thinking about getting the other one, too. It really is so important to teach these songs to our kids, isn’t it?

  30. Oh how I miss hearing hymns. These are the songs I grew up with, and like other commenters, heard them all in my head from just reading the title. As a teenager I can remember hating them and wishing we could sing more modern music – my teenage self got her wish, unfortunately, but it’s no longer what I want. I would love to find a church where hymns are still sung. I’m sure they exist but I have yet to find them.

  31. Love Be Thou My Vision and so many others. Also, In Christ Alone. That’s probably my all-time favorite. Thanks for a wonderful article. Blessings!

  32. The sufjan Stevens song is awesome. Fun post, reminds me how fun it is to belt out a song in church. I can’t stand it when I’m at a Mass where no one sings (I’m Catholic). It seems to happen often : /

  33. TSH,

    Loved this post. I truly love music and most of these resonate with me. I have even done sign language to Amazing Grace and this version of How Great Thou Art. Love love love the pictures also. I am a huge fan of this type of music and beautiful mountain scenery. Being in nature just brings me back to God and His magnificence.

    Loved learning the story behind these songs also. Will share with my pastor’s wife and others.

  34. Yes! I love all of these, and all of those mentioned in the comments too. Hymns are such a great source of encouragement throughout the day, and I’m thankful to have many learned by memory! Another of my favorites is Day by Day–the author of that text had similar life circumstances to Spafford. Both are so full of truth and blessing.

    I just have to beg to differ with one small phrase you used…the doxology is often sung without *accompaniment*, not without *music* 🙂 (Unless you meant it’s often sung without picking up the hymnal to read the printed music?) A capella singing (just voices, no instruments–as I’m sure you know) is definitely still music (and some would argue the best kind!)

    Off to listen to your playlist, since I’m home with a sick kiddo this morning! Thankful to be able to access great music even if we can’t attend church on occasion 🙂

  35. This is a playlist of favorites. Thank you so much for compiling it!

    One of my great joys in life is serving in a very young church–i.e., a church that’s just a few years old and is full of young people. One of our great strengths is our music, partly because we have many talented musicians as members, and partly because of the richness of the songs we sing. While we sing many contemporary songs, a great many of our congregational songs are hymns. For me, there are few joys greater than singing hymns with people of all ages. Senior saints don’t need to look at the lyrics; young people marvel at the richness of the words and wonder why they haven’t sung the hymns before. I love introducing these favorite hymns to young people hungry for songs rich in theological truths and singing them lustily with those for whom they are old friends. 🙂

  36. It is amazing that I grew up in the Catholic church and was so rebelled against going to church in general that I never really learned any hymns. It wasn’t until I started going to my new church that I turned to the comfort of old hymns. My favorite is AMAXING. It always shakes me to the core. And my second favorite is COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING. It is so uplifting and beautiful. I first listen to it when watching the Love Comes Softly movie and immediately I had to find it. Thank you for this post!

  37. This is such a timely post for me because I just bought 2 books on hymns yesterday. One is just lyrics of popular hymns and the other is a book with the “backstories” on many hymns (who wrote them and why, etc). I really enjoy meditating on the words, they’re so rich and they feed me. One of my favorite hymns is “It is Well with My Soul.” Thanks for your wonderful post.

  38. Oh wow! I just listening to How Great Thou Art by Martina. I have goosebumps – she can SING! Somehow, the country twang is perfect for that song. It makes me think of listening to my grandfather’s tapes of Elvis singing old hymns while we drove across the west in his RV during several summers (which was one of the best things he did for me as a kid: giving us the chance to travel). Thanks for sharing.

  39. Be Thou My Vision is my all-time favourite hymn! I’ve been looking for a great playlist for the upcoming birth of our 5th baby – this will be perfect. Thanks Tsh 🙂

  40. Favourite Hymns?….hmmmm…so many, including the ones mentioned above. There is one that always seems to touch the right heart spot, written many moons ago by a lover of Jesus; Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153):
    1. Jesus! the very thought of Thee 2. No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
    With sweetness fills the breast; Nor can the memory find,
    But sweeter far Thy face to see A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
    and in They presence rest. O Saviour of mankind.

    3. O hope of every contrite heart, 4. But what to those who find? Ah! this
    O joy of all the meek, nor tongue nor pen can show;
    To those who ask how kind Thou art, The love of Jesus, what it is,
    How good to those who seek. None but his loved ones know.

    5. Jesus our present joy art Thou,
    As Though our prize wilt be;
    In Thee be all our glory now,
    As through eternity.

  41. Thanks Tsh for sharing about these amazing hymns. These hymns and so many others show us what a treasure we have in the songs of the church. I just hope people can discover these and see their relevance for today as well as use it for inspiration for new songs to be written.

  42. I can’t began to pick and choose…they all have a message for me.. I once was lost, but now I am found, Great is thy faithfulness. So, for me it is hard to say.

  43. Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. Great to meet another hymn-lover, as are most of the over 350,000 who have visited my blog. You’ve chosen some fine hymns for your list. My own problem is that, having studied our English hymnody for over 40 years, I have too many favourites to list! God bless.

  44. Hi,
    Thanks for a very educating post.
    My wife and I, both surgeons, find hymns very relaxing especially during tough times.

    I love “Lord I hope this day is good” – written by Dr Ida Scudder.Americam missionary who founded the Christian medical college, Vellore, Tamilnadu in South India.