In celebration of the Feast Day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, we are examining some of the songs that have helped our readers through hard times. We recently asked readers to share their most treasured songs of faith and we received hundreds of worthy responses. Now we’re taking a look at some of the most popular songs with Aleteia’s readers!
There were a ton of responses to our question, with suggestions ranging from prayerful hymns to grand faith anthems. While we wish we could include all of them, there just isn’t enough room in one article. Instead, we’ve selected some of the songs that received the most engagement and seemed to resonate with the most readers.
Matt Maher – “Lord, I Need You”
It’s hard to believe it, but Matt Maher’s “Lord, I Need You” is almost a decade old. With a compelling, victorious melody, Maher set the tone for his future releases. While his songwriting style has grown over the last 10 years, “Lord, I Need You” stands as one of his most definitive tunes and it is one that you are still likely to hear if you go to see him live.
“The Lord’s Prayer”
The Our Father prayer is an especially important one for all Catholics, as it was given to us by Christ himself. As a hymn, it can bring an even greater sense of peace, for as St. Augustine said “The one who sings prays twice.” We selected a rendition performed by Pope St. John Paul II live at Mass, not just because JPII was an incredible Catholic figure, but because it’s not often you get to hear a saint sing.
“How Can I Keep From Singing”
This 19th-century hymn comes from Baptist minister Robert Lowry. This is a powerful prayer that simply wells with emotion. I was especially glad this made this list because it is a personal favorite. I remember two separate occasions when I watched music ministers brought to tears by the combination of the faithful lyrics and the sweet, almost mournful melody.
Hillsong United – “Oceans”
Quite a few respondents cited “Oceans” by Hillsong United as a particularly touching song. The tune has a lot going for it, not least of all its lyrics that speak of a yearning to be a better person for the sake of God. The music constantly builds and wanes just like waves on an ocean shore. When the singer hits the high notes at the end, a wall of sound hits the listener right in the feels.
“Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”
Back in the realm of Church hymns, one of the most suggested answers to our question was “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.” Attributed to Fr. Ignaz Franz, an 18th-century Polish priest, this hymn is still one of the most popular among the faithful.
Lauren Daigle – “You Say”
Moving away from 100-year-old hymns, our respondents kept bringing up Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.” The song came out four years ago, but it was still relevant very recently as it became the first song to ever spend more than 100 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Christian charts. Daigle’s smokey, belting voice makes for an emotional performance. Fun Fact: When Daigle set the record for most weeks at #1, she beat Hillsong’s “Oceans,” which had enjoyed the top spot for 61 weeks.
“How Great Thou Art”
One of the most recorded hymns from the 19th century, “How Great Thou Art” is a moving affirmation of faith. While there is definitely something to be said for a bombastic rendition with soaring high notes, we selected a version performed by Josh Turner. This version, while more subdued, is also a bit more personal. Not to mention his bass notes are to die for. For more low notes, check out his “I Saw the Light.”
“On Eagle’s Wings”
Here we have a more modern hymn that continues to grow in popularity. Written by Fr. Michael Joncas, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “On Eagle’s Wings” was drawn from Psalm 91, Exodus 19, and Matthew 13. It was written after Joncas and his friend Douglas Hall returned from a meal to find that Hall’s father had died of a heart attack. It has become particularly popular as a hymn for funeral services.
“Here I Am, Lord”
Here we have another 20th-century hymn, but this time by Dan Schutte, who has more than 165 Christian hymns to his credit. “Here I Am, Lord” is a mainstay at Catholic Mass, as we’re sure the faithful who attend regularly can attest. While it is a lovely hymn to hear from a church choir, it is just as good as a Christian rock song, as displayed by the excellent above recording by Chris Bray.
We could have guessed that “Amazing Grace” would be the most popular Christian song to help people in times of hardship. The timeless melody is matched by powerful lyrics that have stood the test of time for nearly three centuries. While there are countless recordings of “Amazing Grace,” we have selected a rendition by Andrea Bocelli, who is joined by legendary Country/Christian singer Allison Krauss, a combo of musical dynamos that came together for the recording in 2020.