I grew up listening to Christian music. I cut my teeth on parents’ Amy Grant records. And I still remember when I got my first stereo and the 10 “free” CDs from the music club—Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace.
Along my Christian music journey, there have come some special songs. The “anthems.” You know, the songs you put on repeat, the ones you turned up the radio to hear, the ones that became the soundtrack to some of our sweetest faith moments. Christian camp altar calls. Missions trip videos. Youth group graduation.
This list is completely unscientific and based only on my personal taste and knowledge of Christian music. Still, I think you may see a few songs in this list that have been meaningful to you too. So in no particular order, I present to you,
The Top 10 Christian Anthems of All Time
(or at least the past three decades):
- People Need the Lord—Steve Green, 1984—This is one of the first Christian songs that really touched my young heart. It’s as true today as it was then.
- If God is For Us (Who Can Be Against Us?)—Degarmo & Key, 1989—All it took was an upperclassman belting this rockin’ song from stage at youth camp to make me believe, “We can live in victory today!”
- Be the One—Al Denson, 1990—The anthem of Christian youth choirs everywhere, this song features mad synth skills and delivers a powerful call to action: “Will you be the one?” My answer: YES!
- For the Sake of the Call—Steven Curtis Chapman, 1990—Back when mullets were still cool (or were they?), SCC invited us to imagine Jesus’ disciples as regular guys who gave up everything to follow Christ. “All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them. He said, ‘Come follow me,’ and they came.”
- In Christ Alone—Michael English, 1992—When a college ensemble group (from Azuza Pacific University) sang this song at my church, my junior high heart was hooked! (You’ll also find it attached to some pretty powerful sports montages on YouTube.)
- He Won’t Let You Go—The Kry, 1994—Need a good cry song? This is it. When this song was released, it became an instant classic as the “slideshow song” for high school and college graduations.
- I Surrender All—Clay Crosse, 1999—I remember watching the recap video of my cousin’s high school basketball championship (which they lost in the final game) set to this song. The feels! It’s sad when you lose a basketball championship, but it’s good to be reminded that there are things in life that matter more.
- My Redeemer Lives—Nicole C. Mullen, 2000—I met Nicole C. Mullen in Nashville the year this song came out. So I definitely have a soft spot for this soulful ballad that draws from Job 19:25. (For extra feels watch it accompanying the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt!)
- Christ Alone—Kristyn Getty, 2008—I don’t know if it’s Kristyn’s Irish lilt or the fact that people stand and cheer when we sing, “Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!” but this song is simply the best.
- How He Loves—David Crowder, 2009—John Mark McMillan, who wrote this song after his best friend was killed in a car crash, has said churches need to incorporate more tragedy in worship music so people can have an honest dialogue with God about their pain. Yes. And what happened to the original lyrics “sloppy wet kiss”?
A good Christian anthem not only stands the test of time, it also serves an important purpose. It can focus us on what matters. It can call us to action. It can provide the musical backdrop of heaven-on-earth moments. So go ahead, grab a box of tissues and listen to all of them. Let all the feels push you closer to the One who put eternity in your heart.