// sunday music: top worship albums of the past decade (part 1)

Another “best of” list for the next fortnight, before normal sunday music service resumes. This week and the next, i’m going to list some of the top worship albums of the past ten years – some well-known, and some less well-known. I’ve tried to shy away from listing some of the most popular albums (things like Tim Hughes’ Here I am to Worship, for example) because of their universal nature, and as far as possible I’ve also tried to keep it to no more than two albums per artist, although with movements such as Passion, Hillsong and Soul Survivor this is obviously rather more difficult…

Finally – I have invariably missed off albums that may well have changed your life from this list. If I have, please comment and let me know what they are! I’m going in (mostly) alphabetical order according to artist so it may be i just haven’t got there yet.

* * *

Greater Things – Bluetree: Irish band Bluetree, best known for their song “God of This City” (or alternatively, “that one where you sing “Greater Things are yet to come | Greater things are still to be done in this city” until your lungs give out), crafted an gem in their album Greater Things.

It’s an album of surprisingly quirky angles and soaring crescendos, and it also has a total belter of a version of “When I Survey” that you can hear here:

The Bright Sadness – Charlie Hall: Crazily-bearded Passion worship leader Charlie Hall is a little bit like Marmite among those who have heard of him, inspiring strong reactions both positive and negative. In his heartfelt album The Bright Sadness he shows off a surprisingly vulnerable lyrical edge, though, and a knack for creating pure, beautiful worship songs. Check out “My Brightness” and “Mystery” if you like his retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son in “Hookers and Robbers” here.

All together now – “this is the night of love’s renovation | A feast, I am sure, that could change a whole nation!”

ConsumedJesus Culture: Almost everything that worship collective Jesus Culture have been associated with has been awe-inspiring, but none so much as their third album, Consumed. Recorded live in a worship setting, their cover of the Delirious classic “Obsession” is one of those moments where you just know the presence of God has entered the room (you’ll know it when you get there).

Watch it here, and do check out “Burning Ones”, “Dance with Me” and “Holding Nothing Back” if you approve:

How Great is Our God – Passion: The Passion worship conference has been putting out significant worship albums for a while, but they’ve arguably not yet bettered this stunning effort. Chris Tomlin’s live version of the (then relatively new) “How Great is Our God”, breaking into a spontaneous version of Stuart K. Hine’s hymn “How Great Thou Art” in the closing moments, is amazing.

Sorry about the video on this one:

Illuminate – David Crowder Band: In my opinion, the best worship album of the past decade, and certainly the reason why I discovered worship music. Every single song is tightly focussed, powerfully creative and overflowing in praise. It’s currently £4.99 on Itunes, and you’ll never hear another album quite like it. For the moment, here’s “All Creatures #2”.

Again, apologies for the video:

Church Music – David Crowder Band: If you were to buy everything that David Crowder Band have released in the past ten years, you would not regret it. But their most recent, Church Music, is an eccentric album that takes a while to grow on you, interweaving a range of lyrical themes and a huge variety of musical styles to demonstrate the diversity of worship music throughout history.

Highlights include “How He Loves”, “SMS (Shine)”, a cover of Flyleaf’s “All Around Me” and a stunning “Oh, Happiness!” (listen to it here), but for now, here’s “Shadows”:

World Service – Delirious?: Delirious have always been notable, but some of their albums over the years have been noticeably uneven. World Service is, in contrast, almost universally great – a worship album that is jammed with modern classics. Everyone knows “Majesty (Here I Am)”, of course.

But what about “Inside Outside”?

All of the Above – Hillsong United: Hillsong United evolved dramatically between 2000 and 2010, going from a high-energy youth movement to the thoughtful, somber and reflective figures who made “United We Stand” and the excellent “All of the Above”. The album is really held by the centrepiece trilogy of “Found”, “Hosanna” and “For those who are to Come,” but it is arguably “Devotion” that is the best of all.

Sadly, though, it won’t embed, so you’ll have to go here to listen to it.

Limbs and Branches (and EPs) – Jon Foreman: Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman released a series of acoustic EPs a couple of years back, and they are, without exception, superb – scaling a range of emotions and allowing Foreman’s soulful side a little more chance to breathe.

“Your Love is Strong” has been everywhere lately, although in my opinion nobody has bettered Jon Foreman yet (and it’s better with verses), but “Behind Your Eyes” is still one of my favourite songs ever and “The Cure for Pain”, an ode to depression, is stunning:

Where Angels Fear to Tread – Matt Redman: It’s hard to pick Matt Redman’s best album of the decade, as they are all stunning. However, “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, written soon after his wife Beth’s miscarriage, is a bruised and beautiful worship album that manages to find joy even in the midst of pain. It features “Blessed be Your Name”, but some of the lesser-known cuts, like the title track and “Befriended”, below, are just as powerful, reminding you just what a good songwriter Matt is.

With fewer obvious anthems than “We Shall Not Be Shaken”, “Beautiful News” or even “Facedown”, it is nonetheless still an album that stands up to repeated listens:

* * *

And that’s it for part one of the top worship albums of the past decade, here at sunday music.

I’ll finish it off next week, so let me know your suggestions by then!

Until then, thanks for reading this week, and I’ll see you on Friday.

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