NEXT: Best New Worship Songs of 2016

Every month I scour the internet for the latest worship songs – both independent & label – looking for the best of what’s “NEXT”, particularly for those who don’t subscribe to the “one-size-fits-all” mindset of only pulling from the CCLI Top 25 (though I don’t deny that can be a great place to start). I listen, play along, & analyze to see which ones float to the top. Once a year we look back on those songs & others we sang, & compile a “Best of…” list. I hope this curated list of new worship songs helps you better serve your congregation in the coming year!

Fierce” – Jesus Culture (chart available HERE)
“Fierce” & “Everything & Nothing Less” are probably be most powerful songs that have appeared on a Jesus Culture release since their CD “Your Love Never Fails” was released back in ’08. Having already featured the later, I have been unable to shake “Fierce” these past few months & figured I should revisit the CD. A passionate song full of beautiful imagery (“Like a tidal wave
crashing over me…“), this one would work very well in a modern-rock worship setting.

Walk on Waves” – Austin & Lindsey Adamec (Chart available HERE)
Austin & Lindsey are locals of sorts, but local-bias has no influence on my love for this song. After spending the past few years working on each of their individual music careers, they felt the call back home to serve the local church. Now, as worship pastors/leaders at Christ’s Church, they have co-written a solid batch of new corporate songs. Not only is the production top-notch & relevant, the stand-out track almost seems to grow out of the popularity of “Oceans”, utilizing the same water-theme, but in a more celebratory, victorious manner. I APPROVE! Another potential win here is that the song sounds great as a male/female duet, so it’d be easy to introduce as Special Music.

O Come to the Altar” – Elevation Worship (Chart available HERE)
This may seem to be a no-brainer for some, but having never heard the song on Christian radio, it took me some time to discover it. Over the course of 2016 is has become my own church’s most popular response song. The original arrangement is fresh & modern, but the song works well with nearly any instrumentation, & can even be used as a special in a traditional setting with piano & choir.

Faithful One” – City Worship Project (Chart available HERE)
I have been part of writing quite a few songs over the years, but I’m pretty sure than “Faithful One” is my favorite – these lyrics are truly out of the overflow of our collective hearts, & I love singing them! This song almost immediately became part of our church’s sung theology, & has been sung at quite a few other churches as well. Also, I particularly love Ascension‘s approach to the recording, & co-writer Jeremiah Jones‘ vocal delivery.

Lion and the Lamb” – Leeland (Chart available HERE)
Leeland’s last CD, THE GREAT AWAKENING, was the only CD my whole Saint Lewis band all loved – on band trips we’d put it on rotation for hours at a time. Though the band line-up has changed a bit since then, their latest, INVISIBLE, may be even better. This is the clear go-to track for church use, but it’s the Bethel recording that’s easiest to recreate for most worship teams.

What Great Mystery” – the Corner Room (Chart available HERE or LEAD SHEET)
It’s rare that a song effectively bridges the gap between theologically rich hymn-like lyrics, a singable melody, & rich artistry. This is one of those songs. Though it sounds little like them, it struck me almost the same as the first time I heard Radiohead‘s “Kid A” – I tilted my head a bit, & thought “Hmm… this is interesting… I WANT keep listening until I ‘get it’.” I get it. Swim in it for a while, & decide whether this song might work at your church.

Yes and Amen” – Chris Tomlin (Chart available HERE)
I’m sure the purists among us are already shouting, “Hey! That song is by Housefires!” Yes, that’s true. Penned by “Good Good Father” co-writer Tony Brown, Housefires co-vocalist/writer Nate Moore, & their friend Chris McClarney (currently of Jesus Culture), Chris Tomlin’s shortened arrangement with the memorable guitar hook will work better in most churches. I believe that “Yes and Amen” could very well be the next “How He Loves” – the song is unique, singable, has some serious soul, & the chorus is that sort of confession that every church member should want to sing!

The Valley” – Aaron Keyes (Chart available HERE)
Aaron has a gift for combining beautiful melodies & hooks, with theological depth, writing songs that are both profound, but fairly easy to sing. This is probably my personal favorite from ’16 – a song I can’t wait to introduce to my congregation soon!

Murderer a Messenger” – Ian Zumback feat. Jessica Crawford
Lastly, though the song is not “corporate” in the conventional sense (which is why there’s no chart linked), Ian Zumback’s latest is at least worth an honorable mention, is worth consideration as a special, & the single is a necessary download, particularly if you like artists that paint outside the lines a bit. Inspired by the Paul’s Demascus Road experience, Ian spins a modern-day take on the story, which unwinds into haunting praise. Jessica Crawford‘s co-vocals, & the accompaniment from the Brothers McClurg only strengthens the already powerful tune. It may not be a traditional “corporate” song, but it is uniquely worshipful, a worthwhile listen, & possibly a powerful special. Check out the video below.

Subscribe to the list here to get more familiar with our picks, then let us know which ones you end up using in the comments below!


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