The Essential Songwriter Collection series lists ten songs each from legendary songwriters that every Southern Gospel fan should add to their collections.

  1. Champion of Love (Cathedrals, Symphony of Praise, 1987). If there was ever an obvious pick, anywhere in this series, this would be the song and the rendition.
  2. Hope Has Hands (Grace Has a Face) (Greater Vision, Everything Christmas, 2010). Other artists, notably The Hoppers and Triumphant Quartet, have released versions of this song. This rendition might not be the obvious pick, but its quiet and subdued intensity makes it stand out.
  3. I Am Redeemed (Poet Voices, NQC Live 2002, 2003). This song was a #1 hit, Song of the Year, and the definitive signature song for Cross’s own group, Poet Voices. That alone earns the song a place on the list. Of several strong renditions, the strongest is from Poet Voices’ farewell performance as a quartet, at the 2002 National Quartet Convention. The passion and emotion of the moment brought this rendition to the top.
  4. Medals, Crowns and Trophies (Nelons, Get Ready, 1988).
  5. Miracle in Me (Phil Cross and The Greenes, NQC Live Volume 8, 2008). There’s no question that one of The Greenes’ renditions deserves to be on a top ten list of all-time definitive renditions of Phil Cross songs. The only question is: 1987, with Kim Greene (Hopper), or 2008, with TaRanda Greene? The soundtrack and overall production quality tips the scales in favor of the more recent rendition. If that wasn’t enough, the testimony heading into the NQC 2008 live rendition seals the deal. There was a general consensus, among the artists at least, that this was the moment of NQC 2008.
  6. One Holy Lamb (Tribute Quartet, Hit Replay, 2010). Every list of this nature simply has to have at least one controversial pick, right? Though Milan Kilpa, Tony Jarman, and Dale Brock all turned in strong renditions on assorted Poet Voices projects, tenor Riley Clark’s voice is a better fit for the song.
  7. Wedding Music (Cathedral Quartet, The Best of Times, 1991). Another obvious pick! The song is often associated with Kirk Talley in many minds, but Talley and Cross were co-writers on it.
  8. Welcome to Heaven (Singing Americans, Black and White, 1985).
  9. When I Get Carried Away (Gold City, Double Take Live in Charleston, South Carolina, 1986).
  10. Yes, I Am (Hoppers, Power, 2000).

What do you consider to be the definitive versions of Phil Cross’ songs?