We asked some of our instructors to share some songs that they believe everyone should memorize. This article is compiled from their responses.
Songs for morning and evening
- I Owe the Lord a Morning Song
- Now the Day is Over
Songs of praise
- Holy God, We Praise Thy Name—Relatively few songs blend an infinite, cosmic view of God with personal responsiveness in ways that are both vivid and accessible. This is one of them.
- Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee—Rich with the imagery of the vibrant earth and sky praising the Lord, we too have “hearts [unfolding] like flow’rs before [Him]” because in Him we have the “wellspring of the joy of living, oceandepth of happy rest!” This worship hymn should be a starter for true worship.
- I Sing the Mighty Power of God—This a powerfully expansive description of the omnipotent Creator God, seen in the wonder of the world we see and touch—and yet look past unseeingly. In spite of that, “everywhere than man can be, Thou, God art present there!”
- Jesus Shall Reign—Eric Liddell, the Olympic gold runner, who famously put God first in the 1924 Paris Olympics, requested this song for his farewell when he left for China as a missionary a year later. The song celebrates God’s worldwide Kingdom that shall never end with these immortal words: “His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore, / Till moons shall wax and wane no more.” Eric’s final words as he died 20 years later in a World War II internment camp were “it’s total surrender.”
Songs of thanks
- For the Beauty of the Earth
- My God, I Thank Thee—Of many wonderful songs of thanks, this one speaks less of exuberance, more of fullness, and into an unusually broad scope of life.
Songs of devotion
- O Love That Will Not Let Me Go
- Jesus, Lover of My Soul—This song is very personal without being sentimental. It is a heartfelt response to Jesus and a prayer to be filled and to overflow with His life.
- Arise, My Soul, Arise—This is an amazing text about salvation and reconciliation to a loving heavenly Father.
- God of Grace and God of Glory—This is a powerful battle cry for wisdom and courage “for the living of these days.”
- O God, Our Help in Ages Past—The everlasting character of God gives us the security we need to trust Him in all of life’s vicissitudes.
- A Charge to Keep I Have—Charles Wesley was inspired to write this song after reading the comments by Matthew Henry on Leviticus 8:35. In this scripture, Moses adjures the priests with these words: ‘Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not.” Matthew Henry comments: “We shall every one of us have a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, one generation to serve.”
Some less common songs
- Lord, Thy Mercy Now Entreating—There are numerous songs of forgiveness, but relatively few of careful confession—including sins of both commission and omission. This song is less familiar (Mennonite Hymnal 240), but I can never sing it without a sobering view of myself and a fresh renewal to faithfulness.
- Teach Me, O Lord, Thy Way of Truth—I’m always struck with the incredible lifetime of learning, commitment and living summarized in the first two phrases of this song. Psalm 119 (mostly a prayer) speaks so powerfully about the depth and effects of God’s Word. This is a way to sing about them.
- Lord Jesus, You Shall Be My Song—Although a much newer hymn, this text speaks both deeply and delightfully about a life-journey with Christ. It is buoyant but not trivial; sobering and real, yet joyful, with the capstone of moving through the gate of death to “sing to Your dawn at the end of our journey.” The composer / writer of this song (who remains unnamed in its credit lines), made that entry upon her recent death from Covid-19, on Easter day as celebrated by the Orthodox Church.