20 Most Influential Worship CDs of the Last 20 Years

Worship Leader magazine has just released an article celebrating their own 20th anniversary by looking back at some of the most influential CDs released during that time period. You can read the article here. I recommend opening it and taking a look before continuing.

In an earlier post I shared the five most influential worship CDs in my life, and was gratified to see a little overlap – at least in terms of artists if not titles. Some thoughts:

I was pleased to see Michael W. Smith’s Worship on the list. This CD hit in the midst of a bunch of mainstream Christian Pop artists releasing popified versions of Praise songs and calling them Praise and  Worship CDs, and I was concerned when I first heard that one of my favorite artists was following the same trend. Boy, was I wrong. Smitty leads worship for a congregation of several thousand on this CD. I had the opportunity to attend one of his worship concerts in Peoria shortly after Worship Again was released (thanks, Bobie). Marvelous Spirit was present in the house that night.

Hungry from Vineyard UK was my introduction to what I call “modern worship.” There are a lot of tracks on this CD that are very passionate – capped off by the falling on your knees Breathe as the last track. I can’t wait to introduce this one at my new church (don’t think they do it – after nearly a year we haven’t gotten all the way through their songbook, yet). Passion Band’s Better is One Day was a similar release in my world – empowering, passionate worship from the next generation.

It’s not surprising that a Hillsong release is on the list, and it’s also not surprising that that release is Shout to the Lord. I was actually influenced more by another of their releases, All Things are Possible. This was one of the first CDs that I loved on my first listen. Before, they sort of had to grow on me.

Higher on the list are Isreal Houghton, Paul Baloche and Chris Tomlin. Chris must be the most played worship songwriter today. I’ve even programmed songlists and then looked and seen that he wrote or co-wrote every song on that list.

Paul Baloche hit me hard with First Love. Can’t believe that CD is 14 years old! With infectious hooks and driving pop/rock rhythms, I couldn’t get enough. And to top it all off, it’s lyrically solid. Several of my all-time favorite praise songs came from this CD – Rock of Ages, Open the Eyes of my Heart and I See the Lord. He also has a ton of free worship leader resources on his website.

One last personal note on this this  – the entry from which I have lead the largest percentage of songs is Vineyard’s Change My Heart, Oh God. I’ve led 9 of the 15 tracks in congregational worship.

Finally, two glaring oversights (to me) – Robin  Mark’s Revival in Belfast which contains the seminal Days of Elijah, and Darrell Evan’s Freedom, which gave us Tradin’ My Sorrows.

So, what are your most influential Praise and Worship CDs?

Worship Thoughts

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