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My Favorite Hymns and Praise Choruses for Worship

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As a retired pastor, I got to select the praise choruses for our first contemporary service and the more traditional hymns and choruses for our 2nd service which featured blended worship.  I like one pastor's definition of "blended worship:" "something for everyone to be unhappy about."  Anyway, I thought I'd post videos of my favorite songs for congregational singing.  Let me know what you think of them and feel free to post videos of songs you like to sing or hear sung in church.  I will post a video a day for your consideration and entertainment and will do so by category, the first of which will be a series of "contemporary praise choruses."  

(1) "Better than a Hallelujah:"  I love the earthy lyrics of his unique but simple chorus:


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(2) To me, the praise chorus "Who am I?" has some of the most beautiful lyrics of any modern praise chorus, and yet, in my travels I never hear it sung during public worship.  I made it a staple of our church's chorus repertoire:


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C. Austin Miles composed both "In the Garden" and "Dwelling in Beulah Land," both of which imo have the most beautiful poetic lyrics of any traditional hymn.

In his photography room, Miles had a waking vision of Mary Magdalene, clad in a white robe, visiting Jesus' tomb on Easter Sunday morning.  "In the Garden" represents his hymnic response to Mary's subsequent encounter with the Risen Lord in the garden.  Miles claims that the words of the song came to him very quickly almost as if dictated.  That interests me because of the way that the words of his other hymn "Dwelling in Beulah Land" came to my attention.  It is hard to believe that the same composer wrote both hymns!  Here is Elvis's rendition of "In the Garden" sung at slightly slower than normal pace:


When I was a Methodist pastor in a traditional church, I felt the need for a livelier traditional hymn to supplement our Hymn book . So I went for a long walk in the country, meditating on what to do. Suddenly the words of an old hymn I'd only heard once as a boy 30 years prior were sung in my head! When I then introduced "Dwelling in Beulah Land to my congregation, the effect was electrifying, partly because our pianist was an accomplished jazz musician. "Beulah" is a Hebrew word for "marriage.  So the hymn gives poetic expression to a 2nd honeymoon with Christ on the mountaintop of an exalted intimacy with Him.  The contrast between the poetic constrast between life "below" and life "above" is poignant an inspiring.  The posted rendition of the first 2 verses offer an idea of how Jon's piano accompaniment sounded:


Here are all the lyrics:

Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling.
Then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand.
Doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling.
None of these shall move me from Beulah Land.


I’m living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky.
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry.
O yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.

Far below the storm of doubt upon the world is beating.
Sons of men in battle long the enemy withstand.
Safe am I within the castle of God’s Word retreating.
Nothing then can reach me-’tis Beulah Land.


Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me;
I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand.
Here the sun is always shining, here there’s naught can harm me.
I am safe forever in Beulah Land.


Viewing here the works of God, I sink in contemplation.
Hearing now His blessed voice, I see the way He planned.
Dwelling in the Spirit here I learn of full salvation.
Gladly I will tarry in Beulah Land.


Edited by Deadworm
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I now shift my focus to the first of 3 short praise choruses that are most conducive to creating a reverential mood, a longing for more of God, and a desire to pray.  The posted chorus, "You Are my Hiding Place," is a choral prayer response to Psalm 32:6-8.  

Every worship service should have a time of prayer preceded by a couple of minutes of silent prayer and meditation.  I always used this structure: 

(1) Expression of Congregational Joys and Concerns

(2) Preliminary Prayer Chorus (to create a reverential mood)

(3) Silent Prayer

(4) Pastoral Prayer (followed by congregational recitation of the Lord's Prayer)



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