From time to time, Southern Gospel journalists have tried different methods to determine Southern Gospel’s all-time favorite and most enduring songs and hymns.

In probably the most expansive effort to date, Singing News conducted an online poll several years ago to determine its readers’ favorite songs. While there is a distinct value to that method, it also has its weaknesses; fans’ personal favorite songs are as likely to be shaped by life in church or other factors as renditions by their favorite Southern Gospel artists. Despite its weaknesses, it is a valuable (and possibly the most valuable) metric.

However, there is another, more quantifiable method for determining a song’s ongoing impact on the genre. Are artists still recording the song on their table projects (and thus, in most cases, still singing it live)?

For this study, I consulted 207 projects consisting predominantly or entirely of hymns and classics, recorded in or since 2000. (More notes on the methodology are below.) Here is a list of the 201 songs which appeared most frequently on these table projects:

  • 22 – Amazing Grace – which is to say, fully 10% of the projects in this study had a version of the song!
  • 20 – How Great Thou Art – (George Beverly Shea)
  • 19 – It Is Well With My Soul
  • 17 – The Old Rugged Cross
  • 15 – I’ll Fly Away – (Chuck Wagon Gang)
  • 15 – In the Garden
  • 12 – What A Friend We Have In Jesus
  • 10 – I Surrender All
  • 10 – Sweet Beulah Land – (Kingsmen / Squire Parsons)
  • 9 – How Big is God
  • 9 – I’d Rather Have Jesus
  • 9 – Pass Me Not
  • 9 – The Lighthouse – (Happy Goodmans / Hinsons)
  • 8 – Blessed Assurance
  • 8 – Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • 8 – He Hideth My Soul
  • 8 – I’ll Meet You in the Morning – Chuck Wagon Gang
  • 8 – Oh What A Savior – (Statesmen / Cathedral Quartet)
  • 8 – Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
  • 8 – When They Ring Those Golden Bells
  • 7 – He Touched Me – (Gaithers)
  • 7 – Hide Thou Me
  • 7 – Jesus is Coming Again
  • 7 – Tell Me the Story of Jesus
  • 7 – The Love Of God (hymn)
  • 6 – Gentle Shepherd
  • 6 – Heaven’s Jubilee – (Speer Family)
  • 6 – I Love to Tell the Story
  • 6 – Just As I Am
  • 6 – Little Is Much
  • 6 – The Eastern Gate
  • 6 – The Lord’s Prayer
  • 6 – There is a Fountain
  • 6 – Till the Storm Passes By
  • 6 – Victory In Jesus
  • 6 – When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
  • 5 – Because He Lives – (Gaithers)
  • 5 – Beyond The Sunset
  • 5 – Boundless Love – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 5 – Farther Along
  • 5 – First Day in Heaven
  • 5 – Give the World a Smile
  • 5 – Glory To His Name
  • 5 – Goodbye, World, Goodbye
  • 5 – Happy Rhythm – (Statesmen)
  • 5 – He Set Me Free
  • 5 – I Go To The Rock
  • 5 – I Need Thee Every Hour
  • 5 – I Never Shall Forget the Day
  • 5 – I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 5 – I’ll Have a New Life
  • 5 – I’m Feelin’ Fine
  • 5 – I’m Too Near Home
  • 5 – Jesus Paid It All
  • 5 – Just a Little Talk with Jesus
  • 5 – Just a Little While
  • 5 – Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
  • 5 – Old Country Church – (Blackwood Brothers)
  • 5 – Rock Of Ages
  • 5 – Sheltered in the Arms of God
  • 5 – Softly and Tenderly
  • 5 – Sweet By & By
  • 5 – Thanks To Calvary
  • 5 – The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power – (Andraé Crouch)
  • 5 – The Man Upstairs – (Blackwood Brothers)
  • 5 – The Star Spangled Banner
  • 5 – The Sweetest Song I Know
  • 5 – Through it All
  • 5 – What a Day That Will Be
  • 5 – What a Lovely Name – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 5 – When Morning Sweeps the Eastern Sky
  • 5 – Who Am I
  • 5 – Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  • 4 – At Calvary
  • 4 – Champion Of Love – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 4 – Crown Him King
  • 4 – Does Jesus Care?
  • 4 – Echoes From the Burning Bush
  • 4 – Glory Road – (Kingsmen)
  • 4 – God Bless America
  • 4 – Going Home
  • 4 – He Pilots My Ship – (Happy Goodmans / Hinsons)
  • 4 – He’s a Personal Savior
  • 4 – Higher Ground
  • 4 – His Eye is on the Sparrow
  • 4 – How Beautiful Heaven Must Be
  • 4 – I Feel Like Traveling On
  • 4 – I Know He Heard My Prayer
  • 4 – I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
  • 4 – I Wanna Know
  • 4 – I Will Praise Him
  • 4 – I’ve Got That Old Time Religion
  • 4 – If That Isn’t Love – (Rambos)
  • 4 – If We Never Meet Again
  • 4 – In The Sweet Forever – (Perfect Heart)
  • 4 – Jesus Saves
  • 4 – Joshua Fit ‘De Battle Of Jericho
  • 4 – Life Will Be Sweeter Some Day – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 4 – Life’s Railway To Heaven
  • 4 – Lord, Feed Your Children
  • 4 – Mansion Over The Hilltop
  • 4 – Meeting In the Air
  • 4 – More About Jesus
  • 4 – My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me
  • 4 – No One Ever Cared
  • 4 – Peace in the Valley
  • 4 – Precious Memories
  • 4 – Redeemed
  • 4 – Roll On Jordan
  • 4 – Send The Light
  • 4 – Shout to the Lord
  • 4 – Step Into the Water – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 4 – The Promise
  • 4 – This World is Not My Home
  • 4 – Wait Till You See Me In My New Home
  • 4 – We’ll Soon Be Done
  • 4 – When They Ring the Bells of Heaven – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 4 – Won’t It Be Wonderful There
  • 4 – Wonderful Grace Of Jesus – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 3 – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • 3 – And Can It Be
  • 3 – At The Cross
  • 3 – Battle Hymn Of The Republic
  • 3 – Blood Washed Band – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 3 – Burdens are Lifted at Calvary
  • 3 – Camping In Canaan’s Land
  • 3 – Can He, Could He, Would He – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 3 – Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • 3 – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • 3 – Everybody Will Be Happy Over There
  • 3 – Get Away Jordan – (Statesmen)
  • 3 – Gettin’ Ready to Leave This World
  • 3 – God Leads Us Along
  • 3 – God Made a Way
  • 3 – God Walks the Dark Hills – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 3 – God Will Take Care of You
  • 3 – Great Is The Lord – (Michael W. Smith)
  • 3 – Had It Not Been – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 3 – Hard Times Come Again No More
  • 3 – He Keeps Me Singing
  • 3 – He’ll Hold My Hand
  • 3 – He’s Alive – (Don Francisco)
  • 3 – He’s My King
  • 3 – Heaven
  • 3 – Heaven Came Down
  • 3 – Holy Ground
  • 3 – Holy, Holy, Holy
  • 3 – How About Your Heart – (Blackwood Brothers)
  • 3 – How Long Has It Been
  • 3 – I Must Tell Jesus
  • 3 – I Sing the Mighty Power of God – (Couriers)
  • 3 – I Want to be More Like Jesus
  • 3 – I Was There When It Happened
  • 3 – I Will Sing Of My Redeemer
  • 3 – I’ll Tell It Wherever I Go
  • 3 – I’m Free
  • 3 – I’m Going There
  • 3 – Jerusalem – (Hoppers)
  • 3 – Joy Unspeakable
  • 3 – Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
  • 3 – Just A Closer Walk
  • 3 – Keep on the Firing Line
  • 3 – Let Freedom Ring – (Gaithers)
  • 3 – Looking For a City
  • 3 – Love Lifted Me
  • 3 – Master Builder – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 3 – Miracles Will Happen On That Day
  • 3 – Move That Mountain
  • 3 – My Jesus I Love Thee
  • 3 – My Savior First Of All
  • 3 – Near The Cross
  • 3 – No Not One
  • 3 – Now I Have Everything
  • 3 – Oh Come Angel Band
  • 3 – Oh My Lord What a Time – (Statesmen)
  • 3 – On That Judgement Day
  • 3 – On The Jericho Road
  • 3 – Plan of Salvation – (Cathedral Quartet)
  • 3 – Someday
  • 3 – Something Within
  • 3 – Stand By Me (spiritual)
  • 3 – Standing on the Promises
  • 3 – Sweet Jesus
  • 3 – Sweet, Sweet Spirit
  • 3 – The Joy of Heaven
  • 3 – The Prettiest Flowers Will Be Blooming
  • 3 – There is a River
  • 3 – There’s Room At The Cross
  • 3 – To God Be The Glory
  • 3 – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
  • 3 – Unclouded Day
  • 3 – Up Above My Head
  • 3 – Walkin’ in Jerusalem
  • 3 – We’ll Understand it Better By and By
  • 3 – What a Beautiful Day – (Happy Goodmans)
  • 3 – What a Meeting – (Speer Family)
  • 3 – When He Was On the Cross – (Florida Boys)
  • 3 – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
  • 3 – When They Call My Name
  • 3 – When We All Get To Heaven
  • 3 – Whispering Hope

Conclusion

Clearly, our genre still pulls deeply from the rich reservoir of English-language hymnody, as hymns clearly dominate this list.

Besides songs recognized as hymns, songs popularized by four groups continue to have the strongest influence: The Cathedrals, the Gaithers (Bill Gaither Trio / Gaither Vocal Band), the Happy Goodmans, and the Statesmen. Other groups, like the Blackwood Brothers, Speer Family, and Rambos, had respectable showings, but those four had the strongest influence.

An interesting side note is the songs that did not quite make the list. Several well-known classics were each on two eligible projects: “I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault,” “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet,” and “Nothing But the Blood” were each on two eligible projects included in the research. Keep in mind that this research was on a statistically significant sampling; undoubtedly more than three could be found, but they did not occur three or more times in the 200+ albums consulted.

For additional information about methodology and sources, continue reading.

Methodology

The focus of the research was on table projects recorded by Southern Gospel groups with a national presence, both major-label groups and prominent independent groups, for the twelve-year period of 2000 through 2011. Most projects defined as table projects for the purposes of this research consisted entirely of hymns and Southern Gospel classics; some had a few newer songs mixed in, but had to meet a 50% hymns & classics threshold to be included. For the purposes of this research, the following albums were not included: Compilations, Christmas albums, and live albums in cases where most or all of the eligible songs performed were already on the list from a previous studio project.

It is crucial to understand that this was a sampling. With the thousands of regional groups who perform and record, it would be an impossible task to find every rendition of every song. That said, this list covers most of the eligible projects by Southern Gospel’s most prominent groups, and contains a respectable sampling from groups with regional followings.

Every effort was made to catch the same song listed under multiple variations (e.g., with and without “the”), and to identify multiple songs that shared a common title. However, it is quite possible that one or two slipped through the cracks.

Sources Used

The following 207 albums were included in this sampling:

  1. All Star Quartets – Hymns
  2. Allison Durham Speer – I’m Glad
  3. Allison Durham Speer – Unclouded Day
  4. Allison Durham Speer – This Old House
  5. Andrew Ishee – Songs Of Prayer
  6. Ball Brothers – Vocalized
  7. Ball Brothers – Simplified
  8. Greg Bentley – Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs
  9. Blackwood Brothers – Rock Of Ages – Hymns Of Faith
  10. Blackwood Brothers – Cape Coral Live
  11. Blackwood Brothers – 75 Years – The Song Will Go On
  12. Blackwood Quartet – The Way It Used To Be
  13. Blackwood Quartet – A Blackwood Homecoming
  14. Booth Brothers – Pure Southern Gospel
  15. Booth Brothers – Harmony
  16. Booth Brothers – Carry On
  17. Booth Brothers – 9
  18. Booth Brothers / Greater Vision / Legacy Five – Jubilee
  19. Booth Brothers, Legacy Five, And Greater Vision – Jubilee Two
  20. Brian Free & Assurance – Timeless Hymns & Classics
  21. Brian Free & Assurance – Acappella
  22. The Browns – Heritage Hymn Collection, Volume 1
  23. Christian Davis – Make It Real
  24. Chuck Wagon Gang – Remembering The Old Songs
  25. Chuck Wagon Gang – Live in Concert Kings Mountain, NC Disc 1
  26. Chuck Wagon Gang – Live in Concert Kings Mountain, NC Disc 2
  27. Chuck Wagon Gang – Reminiscing
  28. Chuck Wagon Gang – Keep Travelin’ On
  29. Collingsworth Family – Silver And Ivory
  30. The Couriers – The Real Deal
  31. The Crabb Family – Blur The Lines
  32. Crist Family – Gospel Classics
  33. Cumberland Quartet – Golden Gospel Favorites
  34. Daybreak Quartet – Hymns
  35. The Diplomats – Hymns Volume 1
  36. Dixie Echoes – Reunion
  37. Dixie Echoes – Press On
  38. Dixie Echoes – The Old Fashioned Way
  39. Dixie Echoes – A New Chapter
  40. Dixie Echoes – Sounds of Sunday
  41. Dixie Echoes – So Many Reasons
  42. Dixie Echoes – I’d Rather Have Jesus
  43. Dixie Echoes – Golden Celebration
  44. Dixie Melody Boys – Request Time
  45. Dixie Melody Boys – Vintage
  46. Dixie Melody Boys – Like Never Before
  47. Dixie Melody Boys – Live at Pigeon Forge
  48. Dixie Melody Boys – Hymns
  49. Dixie Melody Boys – Smooth & Easy
  50. Dixie Melody Boys – Traditions
  51. Dixie Melody Boys – Back To The Good Ole Days
  52. Dixie Melody Boys – Serenade
  53. Dixie Melody Boys – Singing The Classics
  54. Doran Ritchey – Surrender
  55. Dove Brothers Quartet – Flying High
  56. Dove Brothers Quartet – Every Time I Feel The Spirit
  57. Dove Brothers Quartet – The Old Country Church
  58. Dove Brothers Quartet – You Can’t Stop God From Blessing Me
  59. Dove Brothers Quartet – Tribute to Mosie Lister
  60. Dove Brothers Quartet – Shout It Out
  61. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Building a Bridge
  62. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Glory To His Name
  63. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – The Ground Is Level
  64. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Influenced
  65. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Influenced: Spirituals & Southern Classics
  66. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – A Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet
  67. Five Broke Single Boys – Five Broke Single Boys
  68. Florida Boys – Something To Remember
  69. Florida Boys – Sing Your Blues Away
  70. Florida Boys – Keep On Singing
  71. Freedom – Hymns of Freedom
  72. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Good News
  73. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Harmony in the Heartland
  74. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Irish Homecoming
  75. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Memphis Homecoming
  76. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Oh, My, Glory!
  77. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Whispering Hope
  78. Gaither Homecoming Friends – A Billy Graham Music Homecoming – Vol 1
  79. Gaither Homecoming Friends – London Homecoming
  80. Gaither Homecoming Friends – What A Time!
  81. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Freedom Band
  82. Gaither Homecoming Friends – God Bless America
  83. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Let Freedom Ring
  84. Gaither Homecoming Friends – New Orleans Homecoming
  85. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Red Rocks Homecoming
  86. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Rocky Mountain Homecoming
  87. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Build A Bridge
  88. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Journey to the Sky
  89. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Passin’ The Faith Along
  90. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Jerusalem Homecoming
  91. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Canadian Homecoming
  92. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Live From Toronto
  93. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Amazing Grace
  94. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Gospel Bluegrass Homecoming Volume 1
  95. Gaither Homecoming Friends – How Great thou Art
  96. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Country Bluegrass Homecoming Volume One
  97. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Homecoming Picnic
  98. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Rock of Ages
  99. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Joy in My Heart DVD
  100. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Nashville Homecoming dvd
  101. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Count Your Blessings
  102. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Giving Thanks
  103. Gaither Homecoming Friends – Alaskan Homecoming – Live
  104. Gaither Vocal Band – A Cappella
  105. Gene McDonald – In Times Like These
  106. Gene McDonald – I Have Returned
  107. George Younce – Day By Day
  108. Gerald Wolfe – Keys To Quiet Places
  109. Gold City – Amazing Grace: A Hymn Collection
  110. Gold City – Camp Meetin’
  111. Gold City – Heaven
  112. Gold City – A Collection Of Favorites, Volume 1
  113. Greater Vision – The Church Hymnal Series Volume Three
  114. Greater Vision – The Church Hymnal Series Volume 4
  115. Greater Vision – Hymns Of The Ages
  116. Greater Vision – Memories Made New
  117. Greater Vision – Songs of the 1900s
  118. Greg Howlett – Portraits of Hope
  119. Hayes Family – For His Glory
  120. Hayes Family – Hymns of the Faith
  121. HisSong And Christian Davis – Christian Brothers Tour
  122. Homeland Quartet – Homeland Harmony
  123. Homeland Quartet – Songs From The Southland
  124. Hope’s Call – Beyond The Music
  125. The Hoppers – Unforgettable
  126. The Isaacs – Songs Of The Faith
  127. The Isaacs – A Cappella
  128. The Isaacs – … Naturally: An Almost A Cappella Collection
  129. Joseph Habedank – Joseph
  130. The Keetons – Bandages For Your Ears
  131. The Keetons – The Dan Keeton Quartet Influenced
  132. Kim Collingsworth – Sunday Morning Ivories Vol. 1
  133. Kim Collingsworth – Sunday Morning Ivories Vol. 2
  134. Kim Collingsworth – Personal
  135. Kingdom Heirs – Off The Record
  136. The Kingsmen – Born Again
  137. The Kingsmen – Honoring the Heritage Vol 3
  138. Legacy Five – Heritage Vol. 1
  139. Legacy Five – Songs We Used to Sing
  140. Legacy Five – Heritage Volume III
  141. Legacy Five – A Cappella
  142. Legacy Five – A Little Taste of Heaven
  143. Legacy Five – Know So Salvation
  144. Liberty Quartet – Roll On
  145. Liberty Quartet – Timeless Treasured Hymns
  146. Liberty Quartet – Old Time Gospel Songs, Vol. 1
  147. Liberty Quartet – Timeless Treasured Hymns 2
  148. Liberty Quartet – Say it Again
  149. Liberty Quartet – Truckin’ On – Royce Mitchell
  150. LordSong – Acappella
  151. Mark Trammell Trio – Supply
  152. Mark Trammell Trio – Love To Tell The Story
  153. Mark Trammell Trio – Something Good
  154. Mark Trammell Trio – Journey Thus Far
  155. Mark Trammell Trio/Quartet – Vintage Gospel
  156. Mark Trammell Quartet – Treasures
  157. Mercy’s Mark Quartet – Southern Selections Volume One
  158. Mercy’s Mark Quartet – Southern Selections Volume Two
  159. Mike Bowling – Influenced & Inspired: Remembering Kenny Hinson
  160. N’Harmony – Voices A Cappella
  161. N’Harmony – Favorites
  162. The New Gospel Singing Caravan – Keeps on Rolling Along
  163. Old Friends Quartet – Encore
  164. Old Friends Quartet – Feelin’ Fine
  165. Old Paths – Journey Down The Old Path 1
  166. Old Paths – Journey Down The Old Path Volume Two
  167. Paid In Full – Sounds of Home
  168. Paid In Full – Sounds Of Faith
  169. Palmetto State Quartet – When He Blessed My Soul
  170. Palmetto State Quartet – One More Time
  171. Palmetto State Quartet – Gospel Quartet Favorites
  172. The Perrys – Hits & Hymns Volume 1
  173. The Perrys – Hits & Hymns Volume II
  174. The Perrys – Remembering the Happy Goodmans
  175. Phil Cross – Focus on Hymn
  176. Phil Cross – Fresh Anointing
  177. Poet Voices – Hymns for the Journey
  178. Poet Voices – Timeless 1
  179. Randy Byrd – What You Hear is What You Get
  180. Roger Bennett and Friends – Parade of Pianos 2004
  181. Roger Bennett and Friends – Parade of Pianos 2005
  182. Roger Bennett and Friends – Parade of Pianos 2006 Disc 1
  183. Roger Bennett and Friends – Parade of Pianos 2006 Disc 2
  184. Roy Webb – You Raise Me Up
  185. Roy Webb – Timeless
  186. Songfellows Quartet – Hymns Of The Homeland
  187. Southern Sound – Reflections . . . A Tribute
  188. Spoken 4 – Live
  189. Spoken 4 – That’s My Boy
  190. Stewart Varnado – The Southern Gospel Players
  191. Stewart Varnado – The Southern Gospel Players Volume 2
  192. Talley Trio – Encore
  193. The Talley Trio – Praise For The Ages
  194. Talley Trio – Songs You Know By Heart
  195. Tribute Quartet – Hit Replay
  196. The Trio (Anthony, Kirk, & Ivan) – Back By Popular Demand
  197. The Trio (Anthony, Kirk, & Ivan) – Havin’ A Good Time
  198. Triumphant Quartet – Southern Gospel – Quartet Style
  199. Triumphant Quartet – 4 Guys & A Piano Player Vol. 1
  200. Triumphant Quartet – 4 Guys & A Piano Player Vol. 2
  201. Triumphant Quartet – Past To Present
  202. Triumphant Quartet – You Better Hurry Up
  203. Triumphant Quartet – Treasures
  204. Triumphant Quartet – Look To God
  205. Various Artists – Remembering the Greats CD 1
  206. Various Artists – Remembering the Greats CD 2
  207. Voices Won – The Basics