Commentary | Top 10 Must-Know Songs for a Choir Member

Since turning 21 6 years ago last year, I have been a part of 10 groups/choirs. Yes, I have been in 10 groups or choirs. In every choir or group I was a part of, I was caught off guard by random songs that would’ve had me looking like scoop ball the fool had I not listened to gospel music during my personal time. I have compiled this list of must-know choir songs to prepare the novice choir member for their years of service. I tried to make this a top ten, but they aren’t necessarily ranked after #5.

Well, here are the top 10 songs a choir member should know.

1. Total Praise

This song, penned by Richard Smallwood, is the top choir song to know. It may be pulled out during any service, at any church, on any given Sunday; so be prepared. It seems as if everyone is taught the parts of the verse differently, but that “You are the source of my strength” may land in any medley of songs.

2. How Excellent (Perfect Praise)

This song, made popular by the Walt Whitman & Soul Children of Chicago and Lecresia Campbell, may have been one of the first songs you were taught in the youth choir. It will carry you all the way into adulthood. The “In all the earth” line may be a part of a random medley also. The “In all the earth” line is also a test of how powerful your tenor section is. lol

3. We Offer Praise

This song, written by Ricky Minor and made popular by Rodney Bryant and the CCMC, is a “choir out” song. “Choir out” means it is a song that can get a choir director out of a Sunday of bad music ministry. It works almost every time, usually because people think about what they did before coming to church. If you sing this song, the songs that were rehearsed may not be working during service. That last inversion may leave chairs scattered around the room and people screaming, so move out of the way.

4. Amazing Grace

This is an old standard that transcends denominational and generational lines. This can be sang as a preparation hymn or during devotion at church. When it gets to the 2nd and 3rd verses just humm along, no one will know you don’t know the words, they don’t either.

5. Order My Steps

This is a song that is mainly carried by the lead singer, but the choir also plays an important role. We all wait in anticipation for two points during this song, the first is “Bridle my tongue.” When the lead sings this you want to stand to your feet and say “Yaaaaaaaaas!” The 2nd point is during the last part of the song when the note is held, “In yooooooooooooour.” lol This song is usually led by the sister or brother that “went to school” to sing or wanted to go to school to sing but got a job at the Post Office and dropped out. lol

6. Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

This hymn was revamped by Mississippi Mass Choir and hasn’t been sang the same ever since. It can be a bore or high spirited during communion depending on the version sang. It is usually congregational, but you should still know it to keep the legacy of congregational music going.

7. More Abundantly (The end of it)

A hyped choir director may pull the ending of this song out at any moment. Ricky Dillard set a standard in gospel music with this recording. Now choir directors will change the words to this portion of the song to fit whatever song you’re singing and bend all the way back to the ground, meanwhile you’re off-beat trying to watch his/her hands about to pass out.

8. Available to You

This song will be on another list of songs later on called “Songs choirs are most likely to mess up.” This is a must-know for a choir member. The verses are kind of confusing though. The “Ahh Ahhh Ahh” part at the end usually sounds a mess if you don’t rehearse. Lol It sounds easier than what it is.

9. All In His Hands

A song that will at least get half of the church to stand and praise is this one. Even the most anti-participating churchgoer will feel this churchy tune, but many musicians mess up the drive of the song. You have to push that thang and be in the pocket on that thang!! Lol One of the best versions of the song is by the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer.

10. Just Want to Praise You Forever

This is one of those songs you can begin almost any service with. It was made popular within the past 10 years. You can sing along and clap like you are at a non-denominational church with flags, video screens, smiling ushers, a step team and dancers, even if you are at Mt. NoNo where the pastor won’t let you cushion the pews.

Honorable mentions: (This is cheating, I know.):

Pentecostal Medley (Bless that Wonderful Name of Jesus, I Love to Praise Him, Can‘t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus)-This is an old standard used for praise and worship at more traditional churches. You may get any random song during this medley, so be prepared for call & response.

God Is-This James Cleveland classic is a must-know. A heavy-set lady named Gwen, Pam or Val usually leads this song.

Let Everything that have Breath (Psalm 150)-I believe it’s an unwritten COGIC rule that you must sing this once in a mass choir that consists of 8 year olds to 79 year olds. You know, the classic COGIC Mass Choir; little kids on the front row, elder members on the middle row, tall teenagers on the back row, no matter what part you sing. lol

Let us know your top 10.

B. McCoy

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