Find New Popular Worship Songs

PW Archive’s Top Songs is a web 2.0 style worship resource that can help worship leaders find out which new songs are popular in other churches. Learning which songs are used in heavy rotation in other churches in the US and around the world has several benefits:

  • Quality: Often songs are popular because they are of high quality both musically and lyrically. This is not always the case and there’s room for personal taste. (I’m not always a fan of what’s most popluar.) However, odds are that if you listen to songs that have popularity you will find several that you believe are also high quality.
  • Community: Singing well-known songs breeds community and connectedness with other Christians around the world. How cool is it to go to a Promise Keepers convention or to visit a church overseas and sing the same songs you do on Sunday morning? You feel instantly connected with those other people becuase you sing the same songs. (Note: Community is not only a reason to sing the newest popular songs, but also to sing the oldest popular hymns. The older the better as you become connected with other Christians not simply across the world but across time as well. )
  • Less Risk: Often times introducing a new song the congregation can be a nerve-wracking experience. There’s doubt involved in whether they will like the new song or connect with it. Knowing that a song has been used effectively in other congregations helps lessen the risk involved in introducing new songs.

Many worship leaders are familiar with CCLI’s Top 25. This resource can be inaccurate towards the end of learning which worship songs are popular. It is based on which songs get reported the most to CCLI, not necessarily which songs are sung the most in churches. (For example Lord I Lift Your Name on High by Rick Founds is Ranked #10 for August 2007 in the United States.) The CCLI Top 25 is probably a better representation an “All Time Greatest Worship Hits.” These are songs that have stood the test of time, but you won’t find a lot of newly popular songs.

PW Archive (Praise/Worship Archive) likewise does not track which songs actually get sung the most. But it does track which chord charts are requested the most often. By design this system has a propensity to highlight songs that are both new and popular. People most likely already have the chord charts for older tunes, but search online to find the chords for new songs.

Top 5 songs for October 2007

  1. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin, John Newton, Edwin O. Excell, John P. Rees – Copyright 2006
  2. From The Inside Out – Joel Houston – Copyright 2005
  3. Hosanna – Brooke Fraser – Copyright 2006
  4. Your Grace Is Enough – Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher – Copyright 2003
  5. Everlasting God – Brenton Brown, Ken Riley – Copyright 2005

As you can see from the copyright date, all of these songs were recently published.

Most of us use PW Archive as a place to get chords charts. It has some nice features, such as the ability to make an instant overhead or format your lead sheet in a variety of ways. However, I find that the chord charts are often wrong. (I personally use these charts more as a starting point to then figure songs our by ear.)

The real power of PW Archive is that it tracks how many times a chord chart get clicked on and then organizes that data. Each month you will find a list of the 50 most popular chord charts.

Take a look at the top 50 for this month. You may find a song on there you weren’t aware of which would be worth looking into. This is a great resource for finding newly popular worship songs.


14 Responses to “Find New Popular Worship Songs”

  1. 1 Chris October 17, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Sweet – It’s been a long time since I’ve been to that site so I’d actually forgotten they had this Top 50 thing. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. 2 klampert October 17, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    nice yeah that is a good feature…best places for chords besides CCLI is and rockin4thecross

  3. 3 Bridget October 18, 2007 at 10:56 am

    The downside is that many of those top 25 CCLI songs are either guitar-driven or arrangement dependent songs. That is to say, that should you lead on piano alone, they may be lacking.

    Because I’m musically alone, I have to pick songs with a strong melody (they could be sung a capella).

    Love this resource. THANK YOU.


  4. 4 Jay Sellers October 18, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I vaguely recall watching Louie Giglio speak on worship music consumption. I think it may have been one of the bonus messages from the Matt Redman Facedown DVD. I am a worship leader that has been guilty of ripping open the latest Passion/United/Redman/Tomlin/etc. cd and playing every song every week until the congregation is ready to grab all of our chord charts and burn them in a pile. My biggest challenge has been to be careful to avoid playing Marvelous Light so much that people cringe when they first recognize it.

    Rare exception: Passion Hymns was so refreshing. Fred McKinnon has some good ideas about blended worship, and that cd found an almost perfect balance.

  5. 5 Billy Chia October 18, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Yeah, this site is so popular I know we all go there for chords, but I thought this post would highlight the Top 50 as another way to use the resource.

    Joel, is great. Are you talking about the “rocking with the cross” ? Last time I checked that was a pay site. I think it’s definitely valuable to pay for professional lead sheets, but paying money to access home made chord charts doesn’t seems like a wise investment to me.

    Yeah it is a challenge to reorchestrate songs that are designed for guitar to be played on keyboard and vice versa. Although sometimes doing so creates interesting new arrangements.

    Great Call! Playing new, popular songs is only one criteria for selecting a set list. There are many others. One of the reasons to keep adding new songs to our cannons (which can be new or old) is so that we don’t fall into the trap of playing the same songs each week. Marvelous Light has been officially banned at our youth worship due to overuse.

  6. 6 alex mclean October 18, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    That is sooooooooooooooo not web 2.0!

  7. 7 Billy Chia October 18, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    I would beg to differ.
    Web 2.0 means diverse and various things, but usually having to do with community based web environments. PW Archive doesn’t have some executive that determines the top 50. It’s determined in a very web 2.0 way. Each hit counts as a vote and the cumulative effect of all the people who visit the site determines the results. How is that not dead-on web 2.0?

  8. 8 brunettekoala October 18, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    PW archive was one of my first discoveries when i started leading worship as a student…my main use for it tended to be for transposing songs into a key I could sing! So many songs now are written by guys and are set in keys that are uncomfortably high for the majority of people.

    Anyway, I do love PW archive…!

  9. 9 Daniel Tomlinson October 18, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks for all that info Billy. I love getting educated about worship because I wouldn’t mind learning to play the guitar well enough to lead a small group in worship.

    I was also gazing at all the blog links to the right, and as I scanned down to “other great blogs” it really convicted me to put more pride into mine. Thanks bro.

    How’s the job search?

  10. 10 alex mclean October 18, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    when I think of web 2.0 I think of the look and feel, not the community based er whatever it is that I can’t think of the right words to sound web 2.0…

    When I think of web 2.0 I think of a lot of ajax, shiny buttons, orange & blue and lots of CSS.

    imho 😉

  11. 11 Jeff M. Miller October 18, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Great post Billy. I have pwarchive in my bookmarks toolbar, and I can’t think of a week I don’t use it as a resource.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  12. 12 Billy Chia October 19, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I do have to agree man, some Ajax and shiny buttons would add to the web 2.0ness of it.

  13. 13 Al Sr. October 23, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Very happy to see that my 2 favourites are in the top 50 chart “Amasing Grace” and “Blesed be the Lord”, especially when sang by you

  1. 1 Top Songs List at Chris From Canada Trackback on October 19, 2007 at 9:35 am
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