My top 60 most-led songs at Kings (part 1)

In December 2023 I will step down after nineteen years as worship coordinator at King’s Church Durham. Over that time I have led 330 different songs a total of 4,132 times at 578 of our Sunday services. I know those figures so precisely because I’m also quite a geek, and I have recorded every single set in a database.

Aside from the strange pleasure I get from tracking data, I also find it useful as a tool for reflecting on the themes and emphases of my ministry over time. I regularly finish the year by reviewing the songs I’ve used most, reflecting on their strengths, and identifying any neglected themes. I now have the opportunity to do that across my whole tenure on staff at Kings.

In this post (and the second part to follow) I will list and briefly comment on the 60 songs I have used most frequently in my worship leading at Kings.

This method skews significantly towards older songs, which have had longer to amass plays. But the overall centre of gravity of themes and sources feels fairly representative of my worship leading over the past two decades.

60. Saviour Of The World

Ben Cantelon

Strong riff, strong lyrics, killer pre-chorus, it mentions overcoming darkness, it mentions the church. So much to like! This was a staple of our sets for a decade.

59. Love Ran Red (At The Cross)

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jonas Myrin, Matt Armstrong, Matt Redman

The cross as existential and cosmic drama. A contemporary worship ‘When I Survey’? I still love this song, and it still gets some plays at Kings.

58. All Creatures OF Our God And King

William H. Draper, St. Francis of Assisi

David Crowder’s live version rescued this song from Mr Bean for me. A congregation in full voice for the “Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son…” is a thing to behold! (Behear?)

57. How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves

Frequently run together with ‘How Great Thou Art’ (which missed the list by one place). I was initially not a fan because of the lack of narrative, but this song established itself as a genuine global classic.

56. Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)

Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche

This song opened a lot of Kings meetings. An upbeat call to worship that acknowledges “broken hearts” and those who need “strength to face the day”, and finishes with “We welcome you here, Lord Jesus”.

55. Surrender

Marc James

One of the most enduring songs from the classic turn-of-the-century Vineyard UK albums. Regularly used in response to sermons on discipleship themes.

54. Unchanging (Raise Up Holy Hands)

Chris Tomlin

A song that does one really useful thing, really well.

53. Be The Centre

Michael Frye

Another classic from those UK Vineyard albums. This one still gets a decent amount of use. One of the factors in a song enduring is when nothing comes along that does the same thing quite as well. That’s very much the case here.

52. O Come All Ye Faithful

John Francis Wade

The first of two carols on the list. Profound, creedal lyrics. I’m not sure we’ve opened a Kings Carol Service with anything else. And the chorus is used beyond December.

51. To You O Lord

Graham Kendrick

Closely paraphrasing Psalm 25, I’ve always felt this to be a touchstone for deliberate use of the Psalms in our contemporary worship context.

50. Come And Worship Christ The King

Chris Juby

The first of mine on the list. Released by Resound Worship in 2016, and one of my current go-to openers.

49. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin

This not being higher up the list is the biggest surprise for me. I think if I’d kept stats for leading in small group contexts as well as public meetings this would be right up the top.

48. May The Words Of My Mouth

Tim Hughes, Rob Hill

Such a useful response song. We still use it occasionally. Nothing says the same thing as eloquently.

47. Love Came Down

Ben Cantelon

A great, anthemic testimony song. But I think we must have had a much smaller repertoire in the early years for this to be above ‘10,000 Reasons’.

46. King Of Kings, Majesty

Jarrod Cooper

A very distinctive lyrical perspective. I know I used it a fair bit, but I wouldn’t have guessed this much.

45. Amazing Grace

John Newton

The hymn. We also use the version with Chris Tomlin’s chorus, but I tracked them separately. The combined total would be top 20. (I’m not going to post video links for hymns unless there’s a specific recording that influenced our arrangement.)

44. Rejoice

Dustin Kensrue, Stuart Townend

One of our standard openers over the past ten years. V3 and the alternative chorus that follows helpfully make room for those who are struggling.

43. Holy And Anointed One

John Barnett

I think this might be my all time favourite devotional song. It was already a classic when I starting leading at Kings and it’s still evergreen.

42. We Will Trust In God Our Saviour

Chris Juby

Of all my songs, this is the one I wrote for Kings. I needed a corporate anthem of trust for our prayer meetings, our vision and values Sundays, and for us to sing through challenging times.

41. Holy Is The Lord

Chris Tomlin

Another standard opener back in the day. I think openers are generally played more frequently than other songs. You always need one, and there are a finite number in the repertoire that do the job well.

40. Jesus Christ, I Think Upon Your Sacrifice

Matt Redman

Frequently used as the preparation song during our communion liturgy.

39. In The Silence Of Beginning

Chris Juby

My hymn of the cross. Significantly influenced by the theological culture at Kings.

38. Oh Our Lord And King

Alan Rose

The most obscure song on the list? A lesser-known gem of 90’s UK worship songwriting. We used to open with this regularly.

37. Yesterday, Today And Forever

Vicky Beeching

Another standard opener from the early years.

36. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Charles Wesley, Felix Mendelssohn

The richest theological carol by far. This brings several New Testament themes that it’s otherwise hard to include with classic carols.

35. Jesus Paid It All

Elvina Grape

I picked up a few American hymns via Passion. Kristian Stanfill’s version this time.

34. Who Is There Like You?

Paul Oakley

This song can be used almost anywhere in a set. Paul Oakley must be the most underrated of the 90’s UK worship writers.

33. Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Thomas O. Chisholm

Spoiler alert: we’re fairly hymn-heavy in the upper echelons of the list. This is one is truly evergreen. I’ve always felt a responsibility to teach the great hymns of the faith to the generations of students who worship with us at Kings. This is one that I can imagine them singing on their deathbeds.

32. When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts

They don’t come much greater than this! In fact, I think ‘When I Survey’ would get my vote for the greatest English hymn of all. Kathryn Scott’s version is my musical reference. We frequently sing the usually-omitted fourth verse “His dying crimson like a robe…”

31. Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven

Henry F. Lyte

I was a fairly limited guitarist when I started my role at Kings. ‘Praise My Soul’ was the first hymn I had to practise over and over again in order to play. Along with ‘Join All The Glorious Names’ (which didn’t make the list), I still think of this as one of the quintessential Kings hymns.

Here’s the top 30