Home Featured Content 100 Greatest Gospel Songs of All Time


Written By: Michael Gordon, Hasan James, Racquelle Proctor and Damon Williams 

“Music has a way of altering your mood, whether good or bad, happy or sad. The power that music has on the human experience is like no other. Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.” – Aretha Franklin 

Gospel music is in a category all by itself, as it relates to other genres of music. The overwhelming feeling you get when you hear Mahalia’s contralto or recite lyrics to a Walter Hawkins song is what music is supposed to do. 

Here at Root Magazine, we like creating conversation pieces, and for the last couple of years, I flirted with the idea of doing a piece on some of the greatest gospel songs ever. As I began revisiting my childhood and thinking about certain songs that literally changed the musical landscape, the list ended up being well over 100 songs. 

But here’s the thing, I could not pull something like this off without a team, and when I say team, I don’t mean just any team. I needed a collective who love gospel music just as much as I do, and even more. A selected group of individuals who know the genre, service it, sell it, write it, curate events surrounding it, play it over the airwaves, market it, manage it and grew up singing it. After five Zoom calls, over 25 hours of deliberation, agonizing what songs to take off the list and so and so forth, our list is now complete. We understand that everyone won’t agree and that’s ok because these lists are all a matter of opinion anyway. We just want to pay homage to the greatest genre of music on earth and cause a bit of a stir while doing so. Did we get it right? – By Hasan James 

The Team

Adrian Warren, VP of Sales, iHeartMedia

Adrian brings a well-established background in strategy and business development for companies seeking to increase brand awareness and revenue. Under the moniker “The Gospel Encyclopedia,” he has had a weekly radio feature on WTLC-AM (Indianapolis) and WNAP (Philadelphia).

Melanie Pratt On-Air Personality, Praise 100.9/Halo Management Group

Melanie began her career in radio when she joined the on-air staff at Praise 100.9 (WPZS) in 2006. 17 years later, she is a five-time Stellar Award nominee for Gospel Announcer of the Year and is on the air daily during your mid-day on Charlotte’s Inspiration Station. She also manages the careers of Sunday Best alums, Melvin Crispell III, Stephanie Summers and emerging gospel artist Isaiah Templeton. 

Shawn Gibbs- Gospel Event Curator, The Firm 

Shawn “Governor” Gibbs is a 20 + year music veteran who previously worked for conglomerates like Sean John, HBO and SONY Music. When any gospel artist comes to New York City, Gibbs is the “Go To” for curating memorable musical moments with his listening sessions that have included Kirk Franklin, Anita Wilson, Deitrick Haddon, Kierra Sheard & more. He is also curator of Soul Sessions at NYC’s famed music house, SOB’s. 

Cheryl Jackson- On-Air Personality, Praise 104.1 

Cheryl Jackson is one of the nation’s leading media personalities in the inspiration brand format. A 2x Stellar Award winning radio personality, you can hear her each day on her highly rated radio show, “Cheryl Jackson in the Midday” heard on Praise 104.1 FM in Washington DC; Praise 106.1 FM in Baltimore, MD; and worldwide on Urban One’s Inspiration Network. 

Tracey Artis- Radio Promoter, I Hear Music Inc. 

Tracey Artis has served the gospel music industry since 1996 through marketing, managing and radio tracking. Under her watch and visionary promotions plans, the world witnessed the Gold and Platinum Certification and #1 records of Kirk Franklin, Byron Cage, Mary Mary, Ricky Dillard, Brian Courtney Wilson, Kurt Carr, The Clark Sisters, Byron Cage, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Fred Hammond, Charles Jenkins, Israel Houghton and many more. 

Damon Williams- Chief Marketing Officer, DAMON ! WILLIAMS MARKETING

In addition to successful stints helming the marketing efforts of industry leaders such as Verity Records, Music World, Light Records/eOne, RCA Inspiration, and DARE Records, Williams now retains music clients and extends his marketing experience into the arenas of film, television, literature, and theater, implementing strategic experiential marketing campaigns including Oxygen (“Preachers of LA,” “Preachers of Detroit,” “Fix My Choir”), Fox Searchlight Pictures (12 Years A Slave and Black Nativity), HBO (“Game of Thrones”), and The Alliance Theater (BeBe Winans’ Born for This).  

Gerard Bonner CEO, Bonnerfide Media 

As founder, program director, and on-air personality for Bonnerfide Radio, Bonner carved a new lane in the industry, creating space for new talent to thrive and new artists to be heard. His innovative approach to this platform introduced a new generation to “Radio The Way It’s Supposed to Be”. He has expanded his reach and impact with the launch of Bonnerfide Media, an entity that encompasses artist management, content creation, and podcast production. 

Racquelle Proctor- Senior Manager, Creative Music Strategy, Paramount 

Racquelle oversees music concerns for VH1, MTV, BET/BET+ and Paramount+. Her work ranges from unscripted reality shows like Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and Miami and Real World Homecoming; compelling documentaries like “American Gangster: Trap Queens,” to scripted dramatic series’ like “Kingdom Business,” to competition shows like “Sunday Best” and on the dazzling music-laden “BET Awards” and “Soul Train Awards”. 

Tracy Bethea- Program Director,  AM 1070 WDIA

Recognized as one of the most impelling and influential voices of the Mid-South and national radio, Tracy Bethea has been capturing audiences since her debut over the airwaves in the late 80’s. With a career that balances programming, broadcasting, producing, public relations, consulting, event planning, community efforts and endorsements, Tracy is an influencer of the new age. In January 2023, Tracy made history as she returned to her roots of radio as the first black female program director of the legendary AM 1070 WDIA. 

Roudy Michel- Artist Booking/Road Manager, The Walker Group 

Roudy Michel has been in the gospel music industry for 25 years and serving as General Manager for Hezekiah Walker management company The Walker Group, Moki Publishing and Hez House Entertainment for 20+ years. Throughout Roudy’s career, he has played a major role in developing all of the key projects for Hezekiah Walker from the Family Affair, Family Affair Live at Radio City Music Hall albums – Azuza The Next Generation cd. Roudy has worked extensively on building Hezekiah ChoirFest gathering into the international and successful brand that it is today.

Stan Jones- Songwriter/Music Executive  

Multi Award winning, Grammy nominated Singer, Songwriter and Producer Stan Joneshas been honored for his success as writer and producer of the soul-stirring worship ballad “All I Need,” recorded by Brian Courtney Wilson. “All I Need” spent 92 weeks on the Billboard Hot Gospel Song Chart breaking the all-time record for the longest-running current single ever in the history of the Gospel Billboard Gospel Charts. Billboard Year-End charts would name Stan Jones as the #3 Songwriter and # 4 Producer of the Year. Jones’Above STANdard Publishing was also ranked as the #3 Top Publisher among other honors in the Gospel category. 

Hasan James- Editor-In-Chief, Root Magazine/Music Director, WIMG AM 1300

As Editor-In-Chief of Root Magazine, Hasan has been at the helm of Gospel’s leading publication for almost 15 years, producing cover stories for the likes of Kirk Franklin, Kierra Sheard, Hezekiah Walker, The Clark Sisters, Jor’dan Armstrong, MAJOR and more. Root has partnered with multi-million dollar corporations like BET, Global United Fellowship, The Merge Summit, I Hear Music, GMWA and BMI to produce one of a kind magazines and journals. Currently, Hasan is the mid-day host of “The Root Box” on five time Stellar Award winning radio station, WIMG 1300 AM under the moniker, Mr. Root, where he also serves as Music Director. 

1.Oh Happy Day 

The Edwin Hawkins Singers 

Songwriter: Edwin Hawkins 

Let Us Go into the House of the Lord, 1969

FUN FACT: The song, Oh Happy Day, is a gospel hymn that has become a popular spiritual song worldwide. It originated as a hymn written in the mid-18th century by English clergyman Philip Doddridge, with the original title,“O Happy Day That Fixed My Choice.” 

The song gained significant popularity when it was re-arranged and performed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969.The version by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, known simply as Oh Happy Day, became a crossover hit, reaching the top of the charts in several countries and earning them a Grammy Award® for Best Soul Gospel Performance. The song’s blend of gospel, soul, and R&B elements, along with its powerful vocals and uplifting message, made it a beloved and iconic spiritual anthem. Oh Happy Day has since been covered by numerous artists across various genres and has been featured in films, commercials, and television shows. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to inspire joy and spread a message of hope and happiness.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ rendition of Oh Happy Day achieved considerable success on the Billboard charts. In 1969, it reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, in addition to the Billboard R&B Singles chart and the Adult Contemporary chart.

Moreover, Oh Happy Day played a significant role in introducing gospel music to mainstream audiences and became a crossover hit. It’s a known fact that no gospel artist can go overseas without singing the mega-hit! Its success on the charts highlighted its widespread appeal beyond traditional gospel music fans. – H. James 

2. The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power

Andraé Crouch & The Disciples 

Songwriter: Andraé Crouch

Take the Message Everywhere,1968 

The poignant and powerful lyrics express the transformative nature of Jesus’ blood, emphasizing its ability to cleanse and bring salvation. The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power has been covered by various artists and choirs over the years, becoming a staple in Christian worship services. Its message resonates deeply with believers, reminding them of the eternal and unchanging efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The song’s popularity has endured, and it continues to be cherished as a hymn of faith and reassurance within Christian communities worldwide. Its timeless message of redemption and the unwavering power of Christ’s blood has made it a beloved and enduring spiritual composition. The song has been covered by CeCe Winans, Gladys Knight, Donnie McClurkin, Hillsong and many others. 

3. Changed

Walter Hawkins and The Love Center Choir

Songwriter: Walter Hawkins 

Love Alive II, 1981 

Changed has become one of Walter Hawkins’ signature pieces and gained significant popularity within the gospel music community. Its infectious melody, soulful vocals, and heartfelt lyrics resonated with listeners, making it a beloved anthem of personal transformation and faith. It has been covered by various gospel artists and choirs over the years, further solidifying its status as a gospel classic. It continues to be performed and cherished within the Christian music community, inspiring believers with its message of spiritual renewal and the power of God’s love to bring about lasting change.

4. Total Praise

Richard Smallwood with Vision 

Songwriter: Richard Smallwood 

Adoration – Live in Atlanta, 1996 

The arrangement for the classic Total Praise, combines gospel, soul, and classical influences, featuring rich harmonies, dynamic vocal performances, and skillful piano accompaniment. The combination of heartfelt lyrics, uplifting melody, and the sincere delivery of Richard Smallwood and Vision, creates a captivating and soul-stirring musical experience.Total Praise has been widely performed and covered by various gospel artists and choirs around the world. Its powerful and inspirational message, along with its beautiful melody, has made it a favorite in both church settings and concerts. The song has also garnered critical acclaim and received several awards and nominations within the gospel music industry. It has been translated into various languages to reach a broader audience and facilitate worship in different cultural contexts. 

5. Never Would Have Made It 

Marvin Sapp

Songwriter: Mavin Sapp

Thirsty, 2007 

Never Would Have Made It quickly became a breakout hit for Marvin Sapp and became one of the most popular and recognizable gospel songs of its time, it was however a song that almost did not happen, as Sapp’s late wife begged him to release it as a single. The song spent an unprecedented 47 weeks on the top of the Billboard Gospel Songs chart. It’s success extended beyond gospel music, crossing over to mainstream charts, garnering widespread acclaim and winning several awards, including a Stellar Award for Song of the Year and a BMI Award for Most Performed Gospel Song. The song has also been covered by mainstream artists like DJ Khaled, Chance The Rapper and Teyana Taylor. 

6. Amazing Grace 

Aretha Franklin 


Amazing Grace, 1972

Amazing Grace is a well-known Christian hymn that has been covered by thousands of artists over the last 300 years, but “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin’s, iconic 1972 vision is by far the best version of any century. Aretha’s version of Amazing Grace is particularly notable because it was recorded as a live gospel album of the same name at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The album is considered one of the greatest gospel recordings of all time and showcases Franklin’s powerful vocals and her deep connection to gospel music. Franklin captures the soul, passion, and gospel roots that she is  still known for, even after death. The song’s timeless message of God’s grace and redemption, combined with Franklin’s stirring performance, continues to resonate with audiences around the world.

7. Thank You

Walter Hawkins

Songwriter: Walter Hawkins

Love Alive IV, 1990 

Walter Hawkins’ composition of Thank You is characterized by rich harmonies, soulful vocals, and a powerful arrangement that combines elements of traditional gospel with contemporary influences. The song’s uplifting melody and heartfelt message have resonated with audiences, making it a popular and cherished gospel anthem. It continues to be performed and celebrated in worship services, concerts, and gospel music events, inspiring believers to express their gratitude and praise to God. When you hear the opening line, “Tragedies are common place,” you already know the church is about to get turned upside down! 

8. You Brought the Sunshine 

The Clark Sisters 

Songwriter: Elbernita Twinkie Clark 

You Brought the Sunshine, 1981

Borrowing inspiration from fellow Detroit native Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster, You Brought the Sunshine became a signature song for The Clark Sisters, and remains one of their most popular and enduring compositions. Its fusion of Gospel, Funk, and R&B elements created a unique sound that resonated with audiences, both within the gospel and secular communities. It became a chart-topping hit on the Billboard Gospel Songs chart, propelling The Clark Sisters to wider recognition and acclaim. Legend has it that the song was so huge in the night club circuit that the owner of NY’s famed Studio 54, offered the sisters a large sum of money to perform at the club, but Mattie Moss Clark wasn’t having it! Still, the result was a gold record and a Top 10 hit! 

9. Going Up Yonder

Walter Hawkins & Love Center Choir

Songwriter: Walter Hawkins 

Love Alive, 1975

Goin’ Up Yonder is a powerful and uplifting song that speaks of the hope and anticipation of going to heaven. The lyrics express the desire to be in the presence of God, where there will be eternal joy, peace, and no more pain or sorrow. The song’s message resonates with believers who find comfort and solace in the promise of an eternal home with God. Quite honestly, you can’t go to any African American funeral without a choir singing this beloved gospel hymn of the ages. The phrase “Goin’ Up Yonder is metaphorical,” referring to the ascent to heaven, the realm of eternal life and divine presence. 

10. Why We Sing 

Kirk Franklin & The Family 

Songwriter: Kirk Franklin 

Kirk Franklin & The Family, 1993 

Why We Sing was not an instant hit upon its initial release in 1993. The song gained gradual recognition and popularity over time, as Kirk Franklin’s career and influence within the gospel music industry grew. The song charted on the Billboard charts upon its release in 1993, achieving success in the gospel music realm and eventually making an impact on the Billboard Gospel Songs chart. It reached the top 10 of the chart, peaking at number 8. The song’s chart success contributed to Kirk Franklin’s rise in prominence within the gospel music industry and marked an important milestone in his career. 

11. Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Mahalia Jackson 

Songwriter: Thomas A. Dorsey 

The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer, 1955 

Mahalia Jackson’s rendition of Precious Lord, Take My Hand is considered one of her most iconic and powerful performances. The late, great Mahalia Jackson, performed the song at numerous live concerts and events throughout her career. Her powerful and soul-stirring renditions captivated audiences and became a signature part of her repertoire.One of the most notable performances of Jackson’s version was at the funeral of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr in 1968. Her heartfelt rendition deeply moved mourners and became an indelible part of the civil rights movement’s legacy.

12. Mary, Don’t You Weep 

The Caravans 

Songwriter: Inez Andrews 

The Soul of The Caravans, 1962

Inez Andrews is often credited with writing the version of Mary Don’t You Weep that became popular in gospel music circles. Inez Andrews was a gospel singer and songwriter known for her powerful vocals and contributions to the genre. She recorded her rendition of Mary Don’t You Weep in 1961, and her version became widely recognized and influential. While the song has roots in traditional spirituals, Andrews’s interpretation and arrangement contributed significantly to its popularity and recognition.

13. Soon and Very Soon

Andraé Crouch & The Disciples 

Songwriter: Andraé Crouch

This is Another Day, 1976 

Like “Goin Up Yonder,” Crouch’s Soon and Very Soon is another staple at African American home going services, and has been featured in various commercials and movies over the last four decades. It’s uplifting and catchy nature has made it a popular choice for advertisements and soundtracks.The song was prominently featured in the 1993 comedy film The Beverly Hillbillies and the 2009 drama filmPrecious”. It has also been used in commercials for companies such as Coca-Cola and the United States Postal Service.

14. We Fall Down 

Donnie McClurkin 

Songwriter: Kyle Matthews 

Live in London and More, 2000 

We Fall Down quickly became one of McClurkin’s most popular and widely recognized songs. The song’s heartfelt lyrics and soulful melody resonate with listeners, conveying a message of humility, forgiveness, and reliance on God’s grace, however, there was some controversy surrounding We Fall Down, primarily stemming from McClurkin’s personal views on homosexuality. He publicly shared his belief that homosexuality is a sin and expressed his own experiences of overcoming same-sex attraction through his faith, further proving that we all fall down, but ev

15. My Tribute 

Andraé Crouch & The Disciples 

Songwriter: Andraé Crouch

Keep on Singin’,1972 

Considered to be one of the best gospel songs of all time, To God Be the Glory, has made a significant impact in the genre of gospel music and is highly regarded for its powerful lyrics, uplifting melody, and the heartfelt message it conveys. The song’s enduring popularity, widespread use in Christian worship, and numerous cover versions by various artists over the years, are testaments to it’s lasting influence. To God Be the Glory is included in many hymn books and hymnals used in Christian worship. 

16. I Love The Lord

The Richard Smallwood Singers 

Songwriter: Richard Smallwood

The Richard Smallwood Singers, 1982

The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack, 1996

Smallwood’s masterful composition of the classic “I Love The Lord,” combines elements of Gospel, CCM and traditional hymnody, creating a captivating musical experience that transcends genres. The dynamic harmonies, soaring vocals, and spirited instrumentation contribute to the song’s timeless appeal. The song was already a huge hit on its first run with the Smallwood Singers, however, Whitney Houston also played a significant role in popularizing it with her rendition that appeared on The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack, which has sold a whopping six million copies, making it the biggest selling gospel album in history. Whitney Houston’s powerful and iconic vocals brought a new level of emotion and mainstream recognition to the song. 

17. No Weapon

Fred Hammond and Radical for Christ 

Songwriters: Alvin Moore and Fred Hammond 

The Spirit of David, 1997 

Undoubtedly one of Hammond’s signature numbers, No Weapon enjoyed considerable success on the charts. It peaked at number one on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and also reached the Top 40 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, crossing over to a broader audience.The song’s lyrics draw inspiration from the biblical passage Isaiah 54:17, which states, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” Fred Hammond’s No Weapon delivers an empowering message of encouragement, reminding listeners that no matter the challenges they face, God’s protection is unfailing. 

18. Peace Be Still

James Cleveland and The Angelic Choir

Songwriter: James Cleveland 

Peace Be Still, 1962

The King of Gospel was dubbed so because of his innate ability to interpret the gospel through song. Peace Be Still’s timeless message and Cleveland’s soul-stirring rendition have solidified its place in gospel music history. Over the years, it has been covered by numerous artists, both within the gospel genre and beyond. Artists such as Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Al Green, The Winans, and even pop artists Kelly Clarkson and Tori Kelly have recorded their versions of the song, each bringing their unique interpretations and vocal styles to the beloved composition. 

19. Every Praise

Hezekiah Walker

Songwriter: David Bratton, Hezekiah Walker

Azusa The Next Generation, 2013

This luminous hit song was certified gold in December of 2019, and was swiftly certified platinum by the RIAA in 2020. Once Walker performed Every Praise at the funeral of George Floyd, there was a plethora of new fans who needed a dose of faith-filled inspiration added to their personal music selection, during one of the most challenging times of social unrest. The song spent 26 weeks at #1 at gospel radio, and was on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart for an astonishing 67 weeks. Also in 2019, Every Praise named Gospel Song of the Decade by Billboard Magazine. 

20. Break Every Chain

Tasha Cobbs-Leonard 

Songwriter: Will Reagan 

Grace, 2011

Already a bonafide hit in the CCM space, Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s version of Break Every Chain took the gospel industry by storm. The song received significant airplay on gospel radio stations and charted on various gospel music charts. It was also embraced by churches worldwide as a powerful worship juggernaut amongst praise teams across the globe. The song won the Stellar Award for Song of the Year in 2013, a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance in 2014 and has since been certified platinum. 

21. Take Me to the King 

Tamela Mann

Songwriter: Kirk Franklin 

Best Days, 2012

This platinum selling, Grammy winning, Billboard chart topping song is not only one of the most played songs at gospel radio, it was a reunion of sorts between Tamela and her former choir director Kirk Franklin. Take Me to the King showcases Tamela Mann’s exceptional vocal talent and heartfelt delivery. Released in 2012 as the lead single from her album Best Days, the song quickly resonated with audiences and became a gospel music favorite. The song’s universal message of finding strength and peace in the midst of challenges has touched the hearts of many listeners, solidifying Tamela Mann’s reputation as one of the leading voices in contemporary gospel music.

22. Is My Living In Vain

The Clark Sisters 

Songwriter: Elbernita Twinkie Clark 

Is My Living In Vain, 1980 

The Clark Sisters’ exceptional vocal abilities are prominently displayed in Is My Living in Vain. The song features infectious organ and piano riffs, intricate harmonies, impressive vocal runs, and a passionate delivery that showcases the group’s distinctive sound and musical talent. Is My Living in Vain had a profound influence on gospel and popular music, and has become a widely recognized and revered song, impelling groups like Xscape and Zie’l to not only re-record the song for their respective albums, but also include it as part of their show setlist.  

23. Tomorrow 

The Winans 

Songwriter: Marvin Winans 

Tomorrow, 1984 

This brothers quartet was our introduction to the “First Family of Gospel,” and on their second offering of the same name, Tomorrow quickly became a standout track and one of their most well known songs. Tomorrow achieved significant success on the gospel music charts and received wide acclaim from both fans and critics. The song’s inspiring lyrics and powerful vocal performances of The Winans captivated audiences and contributed to its popularity. The song won the Grammy® Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo, Group, Choir, or Chorus in 1985. Further showcasing The Winans’ talent and the impact of the song, R&B songstress Tamia, did a cover of Tomorrow on her album More in 2004. 

24. Be Grateful

Walter Hawkins and Love Center Choir 

Songwriter: Walter Hawkins 

Love Alive II, 1978 

On the second installment of this dynamic Love Alive series, the late Walter Hawkins’ pen game was anointed to say the least, but on the song Be Grateful, is where he shines the brightest. With lyrics like: “God has not promised me sunshine, that’s not the way it’s going to be, but a little rain mixed with God’s sunshine, a little pain makes me appreciate the good times,” the song has been a template for singers and songwriters alike. Be Grateful has become a gospel music standard, cherished for its heartfelt lyrics, uplifting melody, and powerful vocal arrangements, and reached the top of the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart as a result. 

25. Safe In His Arms

Rev. Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Singers 

Songwriter: Darius Brooks 

There Is Hope, 1986 

Safe In His Arms powerful message of finding comfort and security in God’s arms resonates deeply with worshippers, making it a common choice for church services, gospel choir performances, and personal worship. The uplifting melody, heartfelt lyrics, and the song’s overall message of trust and reliance on God have made it a cherished and frequently sung hymn in many church congregations.

26. Now Behold the Lamb

Kirk Franklin & The Family 

Songwriter: Kirk Franklin

Christmas, 1995 

Although Now Behold the Lamb was written as a Christmas song, this classic has been sung in church services all year around, and has been included on all of Franklin’s tour setlist. The song also introduced us vocally to the incomparable Tamela Mann and helped move the album to gold status, an anomaly for a holiday project. – H. James  

27. The Center of My Joy 

Richard Smallwood Singers, 

Songwriters: Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, Richard Smallwood 

Textures, 1987 

Although Richard Smallwood has written songs that has encouraged us as listeners, he himself has not always felt encouraged. “I felt like a fraud. I would get up and talk about Jesus being the center of my joy, but as soon as I got offstage, I would go into a dark hole,” he says. Nonetheless, The Center of My Joy, remains one of the most recognized and cherished songs in gospel music today. 

28. Revelation 19:1 

New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir 

(Also sung by Sunday Service Choir, Maverick City Music)

Songwriter: Jeffrey LaValley

His Eye Is On The Sparrow, 1985

This is the song that almost didn’t happen according to the songwriter Jeffrey LaValley. “Revelation 19:1 was an accident. We were in communion service at New Jerusalem Baptist Church one Sunday evening in 1985, and the spirit was high. My pastor was standing in the pulpit with his Bible. He walked over to the organ. He flings the Bible on the organ and says, Sing this. I said, Excuse me? He said, Sing this. The Bible was turned to Revelation 19:1.” Looks like LaValley has his pastor to thank for planting the seed that catapulted him into another tax bracket, as the likes of Stephen Hurd, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Israel Houghton, Sunday Service Choir and Maverick City Music have all covered this choral masterpiece. 

29. Something About the Name Jesus 

Kirk Franklin

Songwriter: Kirk Franklin 

The Nu Nation Project, 1997 

This collaboration of three legends is one of the best mash ups in gospel music history. With the extraordinary songwriting of Franklin, Isaac Carree’s smooth tenor and the legendary vocal acrobatics of a one Rance Allen accompanied by The Family, Something About the Name Jesus was destined for greatness. The song reached the top positions on the Gospel Songs and Gospel Airplay charts, showcasing its popularity within the genre and as a staple in the gospel time capsule. 

30. Rough Side of the Mountain 

Rev. F.C. Barnes and Janice Brown 

Songwriter: Fair Cloth Barnes 

Rough Side of the Mountain, 1983

If you woke up on a Sunday morning in the 80’s and didn’t see a Rough Side of the Mountain commercial, chances are you didn’t have a television. What was most interesting is the commercial was for a compilation album entitled Rough Side of the Mountain that featured artists like Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Thomas Whitfield and dozens of others. This is how huge the song was, it literally influenced a compilation series the year of its release. Not only was the song a #1 Billboard hit, the album of the same name went on to sell over 500,000 copies and won a Stellar Award for Traditional Duo/Group of the Year in 1985. – H. James 

31. For Every Mountain 

Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers 

Songwriter: Kurt Carr

No One Else, 2001 

Lead singer Yvette Williams, masterfully interpreted Kurt Carr’s poignant lyrics to For Every Mountain that simply begin with the line: I’ve got so much to thank God for, so many wonderful blessings and so many open doors, a brand new mercy along with each new day, that’s why I praise You and for this I give you praise. Sunday Best Season 4 winner, Amber Bullock, also gave the song a huge boost when she not only performed it on the Sunday Best stage, but also re-recorded it for her debut EP entitled “Thank You”. 

32. Jesus Be a Fence Around Me

Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers 

Songwriter: Sam Cooke 

Jesus Be a Fence Around Me, 1961 

During the sixties, Sam Cooke was both a bonafide pop star and gospel star. Legend has it that women would throw themselves at him on both secular stages and gospel pulpits. The same man that wrote Laughin’ and Clownin,’ also wrote, Jesus Be a Fence Around Me. Almost 40 years later, Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ covered the song for their 2000 album Purpose By Design, giving it new life. 

33. I Shall Wear a Crown (Soon As I Get Home)

Thomas Whitfield & The Whitfield Company

Songwriter: Thomas Whitfield 

Hallelujah Anyhow, 1984

In gospel music, there are so many songs about Heaven that it would be difficult to keep track of them all. However, this gem written by the late great Thomas Whitfield, is one that is easily put on the list as one of the unforgettable ones. So many choirs have recorded their rendition of I Shall Wear a Crown and tell the story of how they made it over, but nobody did quite like Thomas Whitfield and The Whitfield Company. 

34. I’m Available to You 

Rev. Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Singers 

Songwriter: Carliss Moody, Jr.  

Available To You, 1988

When you go to a restaurant and order your favorite meal, that same meal tastes ten times better once you let it marinate and heat it up the next day. The same can be said about a good song, sometimes you don’t realize how good it is until you’re much older and you go through some things. I’m Available To You is definitely one of those poignant songs whose lyrics resonate over time. The line “My storage is empty” means so much more at 40 years old than it did at 20 years old, proving that songs like these never grow old.  

35. Alabaster Box

CeCe Winans 

Songwriter: Janice Sjostran

Alabaster Box, 1999 

As the parable goes, the song Alabaster Box draws inspiration from the biblical story in Luke 7:36-50, where a woman anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and wipes them with her hair. But there is only one psalmist who could eloquently convey this message in a song, and that is the incomparable CeCe Winans. Winans’ heartfelt vocals, combined with the song’s emotional melodies and stirring lyrics, evoke a sense of awe and reverence. Alabaster Box was certified Gold by the RIAA, won the award for Song of the Year at the 31st Annual GMA Dove Awards and a Grammy® for Best Gospel Performance/Song at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2001. 

36. I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired

James Cleveland and the New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir

Songwriter: Curtis Burrell 

Everything Will Be Alright, 1978 

Ironically enough, one of the King of Gospel’s most popular hits was not written by him, but it doesn’t take away from the fact I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired is a timeless gospel classic. The song’s uplifting melody, heartfelt vocals, and powerful choir arrangement are characteristic of Reverend James Cleveland’s musical style. The song would prove it’s legendary status when platinum duo, Mary Mary, recorded their rendition entitled I Just Can’t Give Up Now, which included interpolations of this Cleveland classic. 

37. I Know I’ve Been Changed

Lashun Pace

Songwriter: Lashun Pace

He Lives, 1991 

When Lashun Pace belted out the first line “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Know I’ve been changed,” it was an instant classic! The song quickly gained popularity and became one of her signature songs and showcases her dynamic vocal range and emotional delivery. I Know I’ve Been Changed played a significant role in launching multi-billionaire Tyler Perry’s career and established his unique brand of inspirational entertainment. His inaugural play’s title is derived from the song of the same name, which served as the catalyst for the narrative and the character arcs within said play. 

38. Open My Heart 

Yolanda Adams 

Songwriters: James Harris, Terry Lewis, Yolanda Adams 

Mountain High…Valley Low, 1999

By the close of the 20th century when this song was released, Yolanda Adams had already had huge church records like The Battle is the Lord’s, My Liberty, and Still I Rise, but when she collaborated with super producers/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on Open My Heart, the result was a platinum plaque, mainstream radio airplay, a Grammy® Award and a music video that was a mainstay on BET’s Midnight Love

39. In The Sanctuary 

Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers 

Songwriter: Kurt Carr

Awesome Wonder, 2000 

Kurt Carr has penned numerous #1 songs, including the ubiquitous In the Sanctuary,  which has been translated into nine different languages, re-recorded by 20 different acts and is a Sunday morning favorite at churches around the globe. The song was a commercial success and helped establish Kurt Carr as a prominent figure in the contemporary gospel music scene, ultimately propelling the album, Awesome Wonder, to gold album status.  

40. We’re Blessed

Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ 

Songwriters: Fred Hammond & Tommie Walker 

The Inner Court, 1995 

In the eighties and nineties, choirs typically belted out a few lyrics, modulated a few times and turned the church upside down. But in the year 1995, Fred Hammond introduced us to a different choir who unknowingly ushered in what we now know as Praise and Worship. We’re Blessed is one of those songs that praise teams sing like it just came out yesterday, and abetted in solidifying Fred Hammond as fierce competitor in the choir space where the likes of Hezekiah Walker, Ricky Dillard and Donald Lawrence ruled for so many years prior. 

41. God Has Smiled on Me

James Cleveland with The Voices of Tabernacle 

Songwriter: Isaiah Jones Jr.

God Has Smiled on Me, 1974 

Another classic from the vault of Rev. James Cleveland, God Has Smiled On Me was another choir staple in the 70’s and 80’s. Although the song was not primarily promoted as a single, it gained significant popularity and had a profound impact on the gospel music genre. The song has been widely performed and recorded by various artists who put a more contemporary spin on it, like Sunday Best alum Jessica Reedy and platinum super stars, Mary Mary. Its powerful message of faith, hope, and thanksgiving resonates with listeners, making it a cherished and enduring gospel classic.

42. For The Good of Them 

Rev. Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Singers 

Songwriter: Darius Brooks 

Available To You, 1988 

In 1992, as a producer, Darius Brooks gave Hezekiah Walker and The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir a new sound with the album Focus on Glory, but a few years earlier as a songwriter, he solidified The Tommies sound with the classic, For The Good of Them. Kim McFarland masterfully interpreted the song with precision and range, mixed with The Tommies strong choral performance was what made the 80’s and 90’s a time when choirs dominated the church and the charts. 

43. Endow Me

The Clark Sisters 

Songwriter: Elbernita Twinkie Clark

You Brought The Sunshine, 1981 

Endow Me encapsulates the longing for a deeper connection with God and the recognition that His divine endowment can equip individuals to make a meaningful impact in the world. Proving just how much of a classic the song became over time, Coko of SWV re-recorded it on her 2006 gospel project, Grateful, with R&B royalty that included Fantasia, Lil Mo and Faith Evans. For Twinkie to be able to convey that message with a pen is brilliant in itself, but for a group of five to convey that same message through four part harmony and rich melodies, is simply The Clark Sisters. 

44. Sweeping Through the City (I Won’t Be Back)

The Caravans

Songwriter: James Herndon

I Won’t Be Back, 1962 

This hand clapping, foot stomping song has been re-imagined in about five different decades by various artists that include: Stephanie Mills, Neal Roberson, Beverly Crawford and even the legend who first made the song famous, Shirley Caesar. However, it was Caesar’s version with The Caravans that catapulted the song and the group to heights unknown, setting the stage for The Caravans to be considered one of the best female groups in gospel and Pastor Shirley Caesar as the reigning Queen of Gospel. 

45. Jesus Can Work It Out

Dr. Charles Hayes and the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir (aka The Warriors)

Songwriter(s): George Jordan, Dianne Williams

Jesus Can Work It Out, 1976 (Woods)

Everything’s Alright, 1980 (Hayes)

Originally recorded in 1976 by Rev. Maceo Woods’ Christian Tabernacle Choir, Jesus Can Work It Out began its stratospheric ascent when it was re-recorded by Dr. Charles Hayes and the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir (aka The Warriors) in 1980. Hayes’ rendition captured the iconic and emblematic sound that was unique to Gospel music in that era, specifically from the choir hotbed of Chicago, IL. It is equal parts storytelling (delivered spontaneously by Dianne Williams), part declaration of faith, and part corporate vocal precision, all seamlessly coexisting over the inimitable groove (read: bump) that is synonymous with Chicago’s specific brand of Gospel music. The result is one of the most successful choir songs of all time! A testament to the song’s impact and appeal, it was revisited, remixed, and re-released decades later in 2005 to similar acclaim. The latter included all of the elements of the original, and added testimonial updates from Williams to reinforce the original message: Jesus Can – And Did – Work It Out! – D. Williams 

46. We Need A Word From The Lord

Thomas Whitfield

Songwriter: Thomas Whitfield

My Faith, 1991

In the early 1990s, just as Gospel music was becoming more and more contemporary, and in some cases production took precedence over praise from the pews, Thomas Whitfield delivered this beautiful ballad, We Need a Word from the Lord, that relied solely on its poignant and timely lyrics and his impassioned delivery. The song served as a timely reminder that, amidst whatever current events, political fiascos, or technological distractions that may be inundating society, all that believers truly ever need is a word from the Lord; and within that word shall be God’s comfort, God’s direction, and God’s peace. The message prevailed and rang true again when Vickie Winans re-recorded it for her Verity Records debut, Bringing It All Together, in 2003. 

47. God Is

James Cleveland and the Voices of Tabernacle

Songwriter: Robert Fryson

James Cleveland and the Voices of Tabernacle Sing In Memory of Rev. Charles A. Craig, 1968

Considered by many to be the “King of Gospel” and an architect of the modern gospel sound, James Cleveland demonstrates why he is deserving of such a title and credit with songs like God Is. The song’s hard-hitting, heart-piercing, and balm-bearing lyrics are beautifully and progressively adorned withinstrumentation that fuses Gospel, Jazz, Soul, and Pop influences. Also speaking to Cleveland’s creativity and innovation, God Is plays with melody and tempo as the soloist delivers a legato croon of  God Is while, simultaneously, the choir opts for a more staccato syncopation, chanting just what (& who!) God is. God Is has been a Sunday morning mainstay in churches around the world for decades, and has most recently enjoyed a fresh upbeat reimagining by Sunday Best winner Melvin Crispell, III in 2023.

48. I Need You Now

Smokie Norful 

Songwriter: Smokie Norful

I Need You Now, 2002

In the early 2000’s, I Need You Now introduced the world to the newest Gospel music balladeer, a young gentleman by the name of Smokie Norful. With I Need You Now, Norful instantly added his name to a long list of beloved Christian crooners alongside the likes of Walter Hawkins, Daryl Coley, Marvin L. Winans, Douglas Miller, and others. I Need You Now was Norful’s debut, and proved to be lightning in a bottle as it quickly exploded beyond Gospel charts and platforms to become a mainstream hit and an instant classic. Norful’s vocal agility allowed him to finesse the lyrics in a way that touched hearts all across the world, and spring-boarded his career in ministry.  – D. Williams 

49. How I Got Over

Clara Ward

Songwriter: Clara Ward

Presenting Clara Ward, 1951

If the African-American Christian experience was a song, it just might be Clara Ward’s venerable How I Got Over. Originally recorded by Ward in 1951, this timeless testimony speaks to the plight of God’s people, yet most importantly, to the inexplicable way God carries His people over the trials and tribulations of life. How I Got Over has traversed decades and generations, with notable renditions recorded by some of the most powerful voices in American music, including Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and The Blind Boys of Alabama, with each version amassing its own accolades. In 2018, Ward’s original rendition was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, cited as being culturally, historically, or artistically significant, and we couldn’t agree more! 

50. You Brought Me From A Mighty Long Way 

Dorothy Love Coates, New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir

Songwriter: Dorothy Love Coates

His Eye Is On the Sparrow, 1985 

A genuine song of thanks with an evergreen message that is truly relatable to any and everyone, is what makes You Brought Me From A Mighty Long Way a certified classic. Popularized by the soul stirring and fiery vocals of Dorothy Love Coates, the song presents the gospel testimony in a bluesy manner that endears the song to believers and non-believers of all ages and nationalities. The song was also reimagined as a choral performance by the New Jerusalem Baptist Church Choir in the mid-eighties, which gave the song new life and a newer audience. 

51. The Battle is the Lord’s 

Yolanda Adams

Songwriter: V. Michael McKay 

Save The World, 1993

Yolanda Adams is a distinguished American gospel singer, songwriter, and actress. One of her fan favorite songs is The Battle is the Lord’s. With her bright tone, powerful vocals, and soulful delivery, Yolanda Adams brings emotional depth and conviction to this encouraging gospel anthem. A household favorite across the globe, this song has encouraged the hearts of many, making it a musical respite for the weary-hearted. 

52. Bless Me (Prayer of Jabez) 

Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers 

Songwriters: Andraé Crouch, Donald Lawrence 

Go Get Your Life Back, 2002 

Upon hearing the first two notes of the orchestration, you already know the song and your ears prepare to be delighted by the melodic masterpiece that ensues. Whether enthralled by the instrumentation of the vocalists or musicians, Bless Me (Prayer of Jabez) is as universal a prayer as one can pray, presented in the universal language of music. Written by two of the most prolific writers in gospel, Donald Lawrence and Andrae Crouch, the song brings to life 1 Chronicles 4:10 in a compelling and magnificent way. The song has been performed in a variety of Christian denominations globally, and by folks of diverse beliefs, making it a true classic.

53. Your Grace And Mercy

Mississippi Mass Choir

Songwriter: Franklin Williams 

It Remains to Be Seen, 1993 

Mississippi Mass Choir’s Your Grace and Mercy instantly imprinted on the hearts of listeners, when at the one-minute mark on the recording, a woman is heard having what can best be described as a Baptist fit, thereby causing their own thankfulness to abound. The song’s poignant and timeless message, rousing vocals and robust musical accompaniment, cements its place as a classic and truly one of the greatest gospel songs of all time. Written by choir founder Frank Williams, who also sang lead on the song, Your Grace and Mercy is a powerful song that is still impacting lives around the globe, 30 years since its release.

54. Order My Steps 

GMWA Women of Worship 

Songwriter: Glenn Edward Burleigh 

It’s Our Time, 1994 

Since its release in 1994 by GMWA Women of Worship, Order My Steps has been charting its path as an indisputably vital song in Christendom. Written by Glenn Burleigh, and inspired by Psalm 119:133, the song was penned during a drill team practice at the church where he was serving, thus influencing it’s hauntingly precise rhythmic movement. In 1995, the song appeared on Billboard Magazine’s Gospel Music chart for ninety-four consecutive weeks, and has since been covered by Jennifer Hudson, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (for which it was nominated for the 1995 Dove Awards Song of the Year), and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. The song gained a new audience with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s 2007 release, featuring Yolanda Adams on lead, and reached even higher heights in 2023 with Tye Tribbett’s mashup with Walk by Faith during his All Things New Tour. The song is presently featured in several twenty-first century produced African American hymnals and other congregational collections. 

55. Alpha & Omega

Israel & New Breed

Songwriter: Erasmus Mutanbira

Alive in South Africa, 2005 

Featured on Israel Houghton’s Live 2005 album, Alive in South Africa, Alpha and Omega, impacted gospel music in a unique way. Its simple lyrics maintain theological depth, while its catchy and uplifting rhythm highlights various elements of gospel, contemporary Christian music, and African influence. The song culminates in an unabashed declaration of the glory of God, giving space for the singers to acknowledge that God is truly worthy to be praised. 

56. Stand

Donnie McClurkin

Songwriter: Donnie McClurkin

Donnie McClurkin, 1996 

Stand is a powerful and uplifting anthem that inspires listeners to remain strong in the face of adversity. Released in 1996 on Donnie McClurkin’s self-titled debut, this song delivers a message of perseverance and endurance, reminding believers that there is refuge in God. McClurkin’s vocal dynamism and emotive delivery add an additional layer of sincerity and relatability to the song. Listeners leave endowed with a spark of hope after hearing this lyrical exhortation, being reminded that when there’s nothing left to do, all they have to do is stand.  

57. The Presence of the Lord is Here

Byron Cage

Songwriter: Kurt Carr

Byron Cage, 2003 

A spirit-filled, upbeat praise song performed by the Prince of Praise, The Presence of the Lord is Here is a tune that is sure to be in every praise dance team’s repertoire. Byron Cage’s skillful and charismatic ad-libs, combined with powerhouse background vocals, create a song with electrifying energy that invites the participation of its audience. Whether they are sopranos, altos, or tenors, listeners are ready to belt their parts and dance in the presence of the Lord. 

58. Hold My Mule 

Shirley Caesar 

Songwriter: Shirley Caesar

Live in Chicago, 1988 

A staple in Shirley Caesar’s cadre of classic storytelling songs, Hold My Mule has proven it has staying power. Released in 1988, and chronicling the story of Shoutin’ John, the song’s infectious chant, I’ve got beans, greens, tomatoes, potatoes, ham, yams… shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs list in 2016, when the “Remix God,” DJ Suede, released You Name It. The song instantly went viral and became a household sensation with Thanksgiving-themed internet dance challenge videos made by everyone from Chris Brown to Snoop Dogg.

59. Optimistic

Sounds of Blackness

Songwriter: Gary Hines, James Harris III, Terry Lewis

Evolution of Gospel, 1991 

Optimistic is a soulful R&B and gospel song recorded by the American vocal ensemble, Sounds of Blackness. Released in 1991 on the album, Evolution of Gospel, the song stands as a powerful and uplifting anthem that motivates its audience to maintain a positive perspective on life despite its many challenges. With its infectious melody and dynamic arrangements, Optimistic seamlessly blends qualities of gospel, R&B, and contemporary pop music, resulting in a captivating musical experience and optimistic vibe. The massive hit won a Grammy® for Best Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in 1993. 

60. We Are Not Ashamed 

Andraé Crouch 

Songwriter: Andraé Crouch

Finally, 1982

We Are Not Ashamed is a powerful gospel song written and performed by gospel legend,    Andraé Crouch. It is a declaration of faith and a bold affirmation of the gospel message. The lyrics proclaim a fearlessness in proclaiming the name of Jesus and standing firm in the beliefs of Christianity. The song emphasizes the unashamed devotion to Christ and the willingness to boldly share the message of salvation. A unique blend of gospel, soul, and contemporary Christian music with a lively and upbeat tempo, a combination of energetic vocals, powerful harmonies, and uplifting instrumentation, this song highlights Crouch’s knack for creating infectious melodies and memorable hooks. – M. Gordon 

61. Balm in Gilead 

Karen Clark Sheard 

Songwriter: Elbernita Twinkie Clark 

Finally Karen, 1997 

Balm in Gilead draws its inspiration from the biblical reference found in Jeremiah 8:22, which speaks of a healing balm in the land of Gilead. Originally recorded by The Clark Sisters in 1986, on the quartet’s Heart & Soul album, Karen Clark Sheard’s version gave her big sister’s lyrics new life.  Her soulful and powerful delivery captivates listeners and conveys the depth of emotion within the song. Additionally, the musical arrangement produced by the incomparable Donald Lawrence and Tri-City, combines traditional gospel elements with contemporary influences, featuring heartfelt vocals, rich harmonies, and a blend of uplifting instrumentation. 

62. Stomp

God’s Property

Songwriter: Gary Shider, George Clinton, Jr., Kirk Franklin, Walter Morrison 

God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation, 1997 

Debuted in 1997 by Kirk Franklin and God’s Property, Stomp, which borrows it sample from Parliament Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove,  is one of Kirk Franklin most iconic and well-loved songs. It was the lead single from the album God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation, and combines elements of Gospel, R&B, and Hip-Hop, creating a vibrant and unique sound. Salt for the iconic rap duo Salt n Pepa, adds additional flavor to the already blazin’ track that is filled with an infectious rhythm and a phenomenal gospel choir bringing great harmony.

63. More Abundantly 

Ricky Dillard & The New Generation Chorale

Songwriter: Sonja Whitmore

The Promise, 1990 

If It’s a bop were a song, it would be Ricky Dillard’s More Abundantly. No other song matches the energy of the hand-clapping, foot-stomping classic. The song moves you at your core and elicits joy from your spirit as your ears connect with the progression of notes and varying degrees of tempo, from the choir’s staccato proclamation of the word joy. Since its release in 1990, no song has evoked the excitement that More Abundantly has; well not until it was re-released on Choirmaster in 2020. The song belied the bleakness and despair of the early days of the pandemic and caused lots of people to reclaim their joy! – R. Proctor 

64. I’ll Take You There  

The Staples Singers

Songwriter: Alvertis Isbell (Al Bell) 

Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, 1972 

Originally released by The Staples Singers in 1972, I’ll Take You There did just that, as it spent 15 weeks on the charts, ultimately reaching number #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and being designated the #19 song of 1972. Almost twenty years later, when BeBe & CeCe Winans released their version with Mavis Staples out front, the song charted again at #1 on the R&B chart and #90 on the Hot 100. Three short years later the British band General Public released their cover, which peaked at #22 on the Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranked I’ll Take You There #276 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The song has been sampled in 44 songs by artists including Big Daddy Kane and Salt-N-Pepa.

65. Perfect Peace

Keith Pringle 

Songwriter: Rudolph Stanfield, Jr.

Perfect Peace, 1984 

Almost forty years since its initial release on Keith Pringle’s sophomore project, Perfect Peacestill strikes a chord in the hearts of listeners. Produced by the Maestro, Rev. Thomas Whitfield and recorded with backing vocals by his Thomas Whitfield Company, the song quickly garnered a spot on Billboard’s Top Spirituals LP chart, where it remained for more than a year. While Perfect Peace is an exquisitely delivered song of trust in God’s protection based on Isaiah 26:3, it was Keith Pringle’s expert leading of the choir through the peaks and valleys of the song, and effortless movement from natural chest tones to his signature heady falsetto, that secured the song’s place on this list. Moreover, platinum selling artist Mavin Sapp’s version of the song was also featured on the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me. 

66. God Is in Control

James Hall & Worship & Praise 

Songwriter: James Hall

God is in Control, 1994 

God is in Control is a choir head banger that captures James Hall’s essence as an eccentric choir-directing mastermind. Grounded by the churchy sound of the organ, the song fundamentally has a churchy sound that is creatively woven together with elements of classical and funk music. The choir, Worship & Praise, brings a larger than life sound to the song that demonstrates their vocal control and charismatic performance skills. Overall, God is in Control, is a musically complex song that many choirs still try to mimic until this very day, but nobody does it quite like Brooklyn’s own Worship & Praise. 

67. More Than Anything 

Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise, Anita Wilson, Sunday Service Choir 

Songwriter: Rick Robinson 

When I Think About You, 2000 

A worship song that can tug on anyone’s heart strings, Lamar Campbell’s More Than Anything is a modern-day love song to Jesus. The tune begins with a smooth, moderately paced expression of admiration and builds into a harmonious description of the intimacy found in a relationship between Christ and his believers. The song climaxes with a whole-hearted declaration of love for Jesus, making it a popular cover song for worship singers like Anita Wilson, in addition to Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir.  

68. I Won’t Complain 

Rev. Paul Jones

Songwriter: Donald H. Johnson

I Won’t Complain, 1993

I Won’t Complain is a gospel song performed by the late gospel singer, Rev. Paul Jones. In the face of hardships, the song is a heartfelt expression of faith and gratitude. A combination of grit and warmth, Rev. Paul Jones’ tone completely captures the juxtaposition of gratitude and hardship that many are familiar with. This powerful song inspires its listeners not only to acknowledge the reality of their situation, but also to magnify the blessings that often go overlooked. I Won’t Complain continues to be a mainstay at churches across the county, further climaxing the black church experience. 

69. Joy

The Georgia Mass Choir

Songwriter: Kirk Franklin

I Sing Because I’m Happy, 1992

The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack, 1996 

When this song hit the airwaves 30 years ago, we had no clue that the author of the song would turn out to be what some consider as The GOAT in Gospel music. Notwithstanding, Kirk Franklin and The Georgia Mass Choir created a chorale gem which quickly became one of Georgia Mass Choir’s signature songs, and was the springboard to Kirk Franklin’s legendary career. But it didn’t stop there. Just four years later, Joy received a revival when “The Voice,” Whitney Houston, brought The Georgia Mass Choir back and put her spin on the classic, going more than three times platinum with The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack; the biggest selling gospel album in history. – H. James 

70. Jesus is Real 

John P. Kee & The New Life Community Choir 

Songwriter: John P. Kee

Wash Me, 1991 

If John P. Kee had a signature song, Jesus is Real is it! The 90’s was such a great time for Contemporary Gospel music and John P. Kee was at the helm of the movement. Jesus is Real is an uplifting song that represents a youthful spin on traditional gospel music. The shouts of excitement from the hype-men and genuine sounds of joy, makes everyone feel like they are a part of the New Life Community Choir. The lyrics express a confidence in the reality and reliability of Jesus and attest to an experiential knowledge of him. The uplifting and upbeat essence of the song speaks to the joy that comes with knowing that Jesus is indeed real. 

71. Deliver Me (This is My Exodus) 

Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers Featuring Le’Andria Johnson 

Songwriter: Desmond Davis, Donald Lawrence, Marshon Lewis, Robert Lee Woolridge, William Stokes 

Goshen, 2018

Originally recorded by artist Sir The Baptist and Brandy as song about a woman being in an abusive relationship, Lawrence’s version of Deliver Me is a powerful gospel song that speaks to the theme of deliverance and liberation from life’s hardships, as the lyrics communicate a deep longing for divine intervention, guidance, and rescue. The raw and passionate vocals of Sunday Best Season 4 winner, Le’Andria Johnson, lends itself beautifully to the heartfelt lyrics allowing for an emotional depth in which listeners can resonate.  

72. I’m Just a Nobody 

The Williams Brothers 

Songwriters: Douglas Williams, Melvin Williams

Blessed, 1985 

Ushering in a new, smother era of the classic quartet sound, I’m Just A Nobody gained a new, younger fanbase for The Williams Brothers. The humble, relevant message expressed through expert storytelling is why this song is named one of the greatest. The song has been covered by various artists, most significantly by Joyous Celebration in South Africa on their 1998 release. 

73. I Can Go to God In Prayer

Albertina Walker

Songwriter: Calvin Bridges

I Can Go to God In Prayer, 1981

I Can Go To God In Prayer could be heard coming across the airwaves hourly on the gospel stations, and in services weekly for years after its release by Albertina Walker in 1980, making it an immediate classic. Though it’s most closely associated with Walker, the song has been recorded by its author, Calvin Bridges and the Oslo (Norway) Gospel Choir, Ann Nesby, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Ami Rushes, and most recently Floyd Wilkinson.

74. Call Him Up

Keith Pringle & The Pentecostal Community Choir 

Songwriters: Herman Netter, Ricky Grundy 

True Victory, 1980 

This upbeat classic rocked churches all over the country throughout the eighties and is sure to set a service ablaze today! The energetic choir, the driving music, the clapping, the tambourine all make you feel something that few other songs do, alive with praise! Call Him Up is one of the foundational songs upon which the gospel choir sound stands. It reflects the quintessential sound of one of the greatest eras in music and thrives in the space. Like the Disco, Funk and R&B of its contemporaries, this song has been sampled, most notably by Cee-Lo Green on Soul Machine (2004) and holds up well today.-R. Proctor 

75. Addictive Love

BeBe & CeCe Winans 

Songwriters: BeBe Winans, CeCe Winans, Keith Thomas 

Different Lifestyles, 1991 

When the intro to a song pulls you in, you know it’s good, but this isn’t a good song; it’s a great song. Designated as #364 on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), The National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic, Inc.’s Song of the Century list, BeBe & CeCe Winans’ Addictive Love holds its own. While burning up the airwaves with its smooth R&B sounds, Addictive Love garnered the attention it deserved as it sat atop Billboard’s U.S.R&B chart for two weeks in 1991, which was quite an accomplishment for a gospel song at the time.

76. Trouble Don’t Last Always 

Rev. Timothy Wright & The Chicago Interdenominational Mass Choir

Songwriter: Timothy Wright 

I’m Glad About It, 1991 

Written and performed by Rev. Timothy Wright, Trouble Don’t Last Always is a message of hope and encouragement, reminding listeners that despite the trials and challenges they may face, they can find solace in their faith in God. The lyrics affirm the belief that troubles and hardships are temporary and that God’s presence will bring relief. This song combines soulful vocals, lively instrumentation, and catchy rhythm and melody to create a joyful and uplifting atmosphere, encouraging its audience to overcome adversity with faith. – M. Gordon 

77. Down By the Riverside 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe & The Sam Price Trio

Songwriter: Rosetta Tharpe 

The Gospel of the Blues, 1949

Though written circa 1880 as a Negro Spiritual, Down By The Riverside was popularized as a gospel song by Sister Rosetta Tharpe & The Sam Price Trio, who dazzled audiences with a delightful up-tempo version that prompted clapping and foot-tapping. The song was used throughout the south during the civil rights era, and as a popular war protest song throughout Vietnam. Though Sister Tharpe made it popular, black gospel versions had been recorded at least fourteen times before World War II. The song has since been recorded over sixty times by various artists including: Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Etta James, Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson, and Louis Armstrong. 

78. No Charge

Shirley Caesar 

Songwriter: Harlan Howard 

Jesus I Love Calling Your Name, 1983

Shirley Caesar likely ranks as the greatest storyteller of the greatest story ever told, and No Charge is one of the greatest she’s told. Originally written by Harlan Howard and released as a country song by Melba Montgomery in 1974, the song charted at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles in the U.S., as well as on Canadian RPM Country Tracks. In 1983, Shirley Caesar’s version charted #91 on Billboard Hot 100 and #97 on U.S. Cash Box Top 100 and claimed the #1 spot on the UK Singles Chart for J.J. Barrie’s version. Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette also recorded the song later in the 1970’s. While it’s certainly one of the most recognizable songs from the 1970’s, it’s hard to deny No Charge is also one of the greatest.

79. Ride On King Jesus 

Wilmington Chester Mass Choir 

Songwriters: Ernest Davis, Jr., Glenn Woodward

Victory Shall Be Mine, 1988 

A classic staple of gospel music, Ride On King Jesus is a clarion call heralding the return of Jesus. Its bright harmonies and groovy drum line speaks to soul of the listener as it evokes the victory of Christ’s triumphant return and the joy of finally making it to one’s heavenly home. The traditional sound of the choir colored with elements of rock attract a broad range of audiences. In the opening line of the song, listeners expect to hear an accompanying choir and band, however, what you hear is an A cappella three part harmony that is most likely apart of your consciousness until this very day. Whether sung exuberantly by a youth group or belted passionately by seasoned believers, this anthem proclaims the strength and majesty of Jesus.  

80. I Go To The Rock 

Whitney Houston and The Georgia Mass Choir

Songwriter: Dottie Rambo 

The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack, 1996 

Performed by actress and Grammy® winning superstar, Whitney Houston, in the movie The Preacher’s Wife, I Go to the Rock is a traditional gospel song that speaks to the unwavering faith and trust in God’s presence and guidance. Houston’s smooth-as-butter melismas and warm tone paired with The George Mass Choir’s churchy sound, invite the listener into a nostalgic musical experience. This song evokes a positive and uplifting atmosphere, while also conveying a message of God’s faithfulness in times of difficulty. 

81. Lord, Keep Me Day By Day

The Caravans 

Songwriter: James Herndon

The Caravans Sing, 1958 

Albertina Walker and The Caravans, bring a seemingly simple prayer to life in Lord Keep Me Day By Day, and lovingly stirs the souls of believers with her plea. The simplicity of the song resonates in a way that keeps the song fresh in the ears of all who hear it, to this day. The song has been featured on The Gaither Gospel Hour and has been released on the Gaither Gospel Pioneer Album.

82. You Deserve It

JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise

Songwriters: David Bloom, James Hairston, Phontane Demond Reed, Cortez Vaughn 

You Deserve It, 2017 

Released in 2017 and performed by JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise, You Deserve It took the gospel music scene by storm. Its simple melody and dynamic arrangement make for the perfect worship song, while also powerfully declaring God’s praiseworthiness. This anthem emphasizes that God deserves all the glory, honor, and praise for His faithfulness, love, and blessings. Since its release, You Deserve It has become a major gospel hit, receiving critical acclaim and earning six Stellar Awards, multiple ASCAP awards and spending a whopping 21 weeks atop of the Billboard Gospel chart. 

83. Perfect Praise (How Excellent)  

Walt Whitman & The Soul Children of Chicago 

Songwriter: Brenda Joyce Moore

This Is the Day, 1990 

When Perfect Peace by Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago was released, it stupefied audiences of all ages. The combination of the controlled vocals, intricate arrangements, and the vocal agility of Lecresia Campbell, was a masterclass in the presentation of sacred music and raised the bar for youth choirs around the country. For so many years when people would request the song, they would refer to it as How Excellent, but the actual title of the song is Perfect Praise

84. Praise Is What I Do

Shekinah Glory Ministry 

Songwriter: William Murphy 

Praise Is What I Do: A Live Worship Experience, 2001 

Praise Is What I Do is a powerful gospel worship song performed by the group Shekinah Glory Ministry. Released in 2001, the song quickly became a favorite among gospel music enthusiasts, and its popularity spread throughout the Christian community. The lyrics emphasize the act of praising God as a way of life and a genuine and vowed response to His goodness and grace. Led by the unique vocals of Bishop William Murphy III, a worshiper at heart, this song set the stage for the new millennium worship explosion that would open the door for many more worship songs to come, in addition to garnering a certified gold plaque along the way. 

85. Jesus Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Rev. James Cleveland & The Charles Fold Singers 

Songwriter: James D. Weatherly

Jesus Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me (Live), 1975 

Adapted from the Jim Weatherly song released by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1974, Jesus Is The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me was released in 1975 by Rev. James Cleveland and The Charles Fold Singers. The stirring gospel version quickly rose to popularity and became a constant in churches nationwide. It was a trailblazing example for how to successfully merge genres. Though not originally written for gospel, Cleveland’s arrangement was anointed and effective. The song was later covered in subsequent recordings by Lashun Pace and The Clark Sisters. – R. Proctor 

86. Troubles of the World

Mahalia Jackson 

Songwriter: Leomia Boyd 

Bless This House, 1956 

The traditional version of this iconic song comforted souls long before gospel music existed, yet it is so aptly designated and one of the genre’s Greatest of All Time. The message and timbre of the song as performed by Mahalia Jackson, most famously in 1959’s Imitation of Life, is hauntingly moving and lingers in the hearts of the audience. The song has been performed all over the world by Jackson, and was recently recorded by Sinead O’Connor in tribute to Jackson and in support of the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement.

87. Shackles

Mary Mary

Songwriters: Erica Campbell, Trecina Campbell, Warryn Campbell

Thankful, 2000

The Grammy® winning song, Shackles was a game changer in every sense of the word! From the music video to their look, and finally to their Hip Hop infused sound, Mary Mary’s major label debut project shot them into a stratosphere that gospel music had not seen. Underneath the 808’s, the bop encourages listeners to praise God in the midst of adversity, knowing that His love and strength are greater than any obstacle.The lyrics convey a message of liberation, empowerment, and faith in God’s power to break free from the constraints and challenges of life. 

88. When I See Jesus

Douglas Miller with Mattie Moss Clark  

Songwriter: Douglas Miller

Recorded LIVE (feat. The Texas Southeast State Choir (COGIC), 1981  

Anyone who has attended a church service or a funeral, has almost certainly heard a soloist sing When I See Jesus. The song evokes strong emotion at the thought of the faithful meeting their Savior and resting from their troubles, and in doing so, etches the song in mind and on the heart of the listener. It has been a staple in the repertoire of many gospel soloists during the past forty years and was often ministered during Sunday services, revivals, and crusades.

89. Show Up!

John P. Kee & The New Life Community Choir

Songwriter: John P. Kee

Show Up!, 1994 

Show Up planted choir music firmly in the foundation of the gospel scene of the 1990’s. Its classic John P. Kee swagger made it a fast hit with gospel music lovers and churchgoers alike. Show Up traversed generations by leaning into all the components of a classic Kee-penned song; solid scripture-based lyrics with hard-driving urban music and a distinct churchy drive. While the song capped at #147 on the Billboard 200 in 1995, it remains widely revered.

90. Worth

Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy

Songwriter: Anthony Brown 

Everyday Jesus, 2015 

The lyrical content alone makes Worth a great song, but add to it the arrangement, instrumentation, vocals and delivery, and you have sheer perfection. The greatness does not end there though. The song ushered in a new level of worship music that brought with it grander, bolder, and more pronounced declarations, which could encourage congregants long after services ended. In 2019, the worth of Worth was acknowledged when Anthony Brown and his collective made history at the 32nd Annual Stellar Awards when they won all ten of the awards that they were nominated for and Worth also being certified gold by the RIAA.

91. When The Spirit of the Lord

Fred Hammond & Radical for Christ 

Songwriter: James McCurdy 

The Spirit of David, 1997 

Let it be known that before Praise and Worship was a thing, Fred Hammond was inadvertently introducing us to a new sound. When the Spirit of the Lord, by Fred Hammond and RFC, is an upbeat praise jam that invites listeners into a full-body experience of praise to the Lord. This uplifting song has a bit of an edge brought about by the funky groove of the bass guitar and the bright tone and truculent delivery of Radical for Christ. Its lyrics speak to the joy that comes with encountering the presence of the Lord. 

92. I’ll Make It

Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir

Songwriters: D.J. Rogers, Hezekiah Walker

I’ll Make It, 1986 

Everybody’s choir sang Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir’s I’ll Make It. Highly encouraging in its message, the song’s captivating “Brooklyn Bounce” and call-and-response style made it fun to sing. It quickly became a regularly requested song during services and concerts and earned its status as one of the great choir songs of the 20th century. However, it was re-introduced by Walker and fellow choir director, John P. Kee on Family Affair II – Live at Radio City Music Hall. 

93. Nobody Greater

VaShawn Mitchell

Songwriter: Darius Paulk 

Triumphant, 2010 

By 2010, VaShawn Mitchell was already a well known solo artist and choir clinician, but when he released Nobody Greater during that year, he inherited an entirely new fanbase. Nobody Greater quickly became an anthem in the gospel music community and has since become one of Mitchell’s most well-known and beloved songs. The song’s powerful vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and infectious melody have contributed to its success. Nobody Greater has received multiple nominations and awards, prompting Kirk Franklin to give his Song of the Year award to the song’s writer, Darius Paulk, during the Stellar Awards telecast. 

94. That’s Enough 

Dorothy Love Coates & The Original Gospel Harmonettes 

Songwriter: Dorothy Love Coates

The Original Gospel Harmonettes, 1957

Dorothy Love Coates’ version of That’s Enough is inspiring, uplifting and an example of another trailblazing gospel song that aided in the acceptance of more upbeat music in the church. While Love Coates’ vocals make anyone who hears it fall in love with it, the song itself is powerful, as it was also recorded by Bill Gaither and Babbie Mason, and by country star, Johnny Cash.

95. Completely Yes

Sandra Crouch 

Songwriter: Sandra Crouch

We’re Waiting, 1985

Since its release in 1985, Completely Yes has been a standard selection during altar calls in churches throughout the United States. The song’s compelling plea for congregants to surrender expresses the perfect sentiment to foster an environment for repentance. As such, there are few churchgoers who are unable to automatically sing along with the song when it plays. Furthermore, additional vocals by Jean Johnson brings it on home! 

96. Love Isn’t Love 


Songwriter: Fred Hammond

Go Tell Somebody, 1986 

Let’s be real, Commissioned is the gospel version of Boyz II Men. Anyone who disagrees needs to listen to their gospel slow jam Love Isn’t Love. This song emphasizes the selflessness and sacrificial nature of Christian love. The sound of the synth gives an overall R&B feel to the song, while the group’s multiple transitions from smooth unison to warm harmonies tug at the hearts of its listeners. Love Isn’t Love accomplishes the grand task of being relatable to a younger audience while also evoking the two greatest commandments: to love God and to love our neighbor. In addition to being a radio favorite, the Fred Hammond penned song had a TV audience of eight million as actor/singer Maurice Lauchner sang Love Isn’t Love on an episode of The Cosby Show. 

97. Jesus Is Love

The Commodores 

Songwriter: Lionel Richie

Heroes, 1980 

Whether you attended church or not, and whether you believed in God or not, you heard the powerful message Jesus Is Love by the Commodores. Though performed by an R&B group who sang some risqué songs, this song is one of gospel’s greatest due to its impact. Played daily on urban radio stations, often to establish the day, the song reached #34 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 1980. 

98. He’s an On Time God

Dottie Peoples & The Peoples Choice Chorale

Songwriter: Dottie Peoples 

On Time God, 1994 

With its quartet tinged sound, On Time God showcases Dottie Peoples’ soulful and dynamic vocals while presenting a stirring melody, heartfelt lyrics, and powerful choir harmonies. On Time God strikes a chord with listeners, resonating with its message of hope, encouragement, and trust in God’s timing. The song has been performed by various artists and has become a beloved and frequently sung gospel anthem. 

99. Spread Love

Take 6

Songwriters: Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Mervyn Warren

Take 6, 1988 

Spread Love is a jazzy and upbeat song performed by the a capella group Take 6. Its lyrics, as the title suggests, encourages listeners to exercise the greatest of commandments, and that is to love one another. The complex harmonies riddled with intentionally dissonant notes take the listener on a musical journey. The lead singers’ smooth tones lend well to the storytelling of the lyrics, while the solid and innovative support of the rest group emphasize the world’s need for love. The song received a considerable amount of not only mainstream success, but street credibility when Bronx DJ, Kid Capri, put the song over the famed Impeach The President break beat and included it on one of his most popular mixtape, introducing the 10 time Grammy® winning group to a Hip Hop audience. 

100. Just Wanna Praise You 

Maurette Brown Clark 

Songwriter: Robert Fryson

By His Grace, 2002

Another architect of the Praise and Worship sound and era, Maurette Brown Clark isn’t mentioned nearly enough. A classic in its own time, is how best to describe Just Want to Praise You, as worship teams across the land still open up church services with this P&W standard. The song effortlessly appealed to both Urban and Christian Contemporary Music audiences, and established the standard for presenting worship music with soul. 

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