One of my first big “hits” on this blog was an innocent little top-11 countdown I posted in 2011. The countdown featured my very favorite Hillsong United songs, and to say it was difficult paring down Hillsong United’s million offerings of awesome to just 11 is a total understatement.
To date, that post is far and away my most viewed post here at The Other TMZ. Alas, in the year and a half since that post, Hillsong United has since released several albums, and thus, introduced many more phenomenal new songs to the fold.
Thus, I’ve realized my list of favorite Hillsong United songs badly needed tweaking.
So here I am: tweaking a top-11 list that will undoubtedly be tweaked again within the next year or two to come. My amended list of Hillsong United favorites includes three new songs from the last post, including a new #1!
I firmly believe the Spirit of God to be pumping through the blood of Hillsong United. The lyrics they pen, the instruments they strum — all of it streaming from heaven itself.
I pray this list blesses you as much as it does me. Let’s get this worship party started…again.
#11 – “Search My Heart”
Okay. So. I just adore the tenderness of Matt Crocker’s voice — and that may or may not be foreshadowing for the rest of this list. “Search My Heart” inspires me like David’s poetic plea of Psalm 139: an earnest yearning for God to search my heart and soul above all else.
Favorite lyric: Without You I am nothing…
#10 – “The First and the Last”
These opening guitar strums always give me chills. And the lights/editing of this particular video is just phenomenal. Coincidentally, I start/end many of my days with this song.
Favorite lyric: Show us the way of Your love / Lead us toward the truth / Stir up a fire in us / To live out this life for You
#9 – “Salvation is Here”
For the longest time I taped an index card on the ceiling above my bed that read, “It’s gonna be all right.” Nothing better to wake up to each morning.
Favorite lyric: I don’t care what the world throws at me now / It’s gonna be all right
#8 – “Desert Song”
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. Whenever I’m in a worship service and I hear those four opening isolated drum beats, I tend to lose it. The female pairing of Brooke Fraser and Jill McCloghry is beyond perfect. Brooke Fraser is basically my female Matt Crocker; I hope y’all understand that metaphor. Bonus video: check out the touching behind-the-song story.
Favorite lyric: This is my prayer in the harvest / When favor and providence flow / I know I’m filled to be emptied again / The seed I’ve received I will sow
#7 – “Healer”
I first heard “Healer” at a Hillsong London service while studying abroad at Oxford University. It instantly became my theme song for the summer, trusting God to help and heal me through every academic/emotional woe. “Healer” has since taken on renewed meaning in the aftermath of singer/songwriter Mike Guglielmucci’s cancer fraud and long-term pornography cover-up. “I’m addicted to this stuff,” he tearfully confesses in the only interview I’ve ever seen of him. Such a sobering “fall from grace,” and yet do we ever truly fall from Grace? God indeed remains Healer — both of the physical, and more vitally, the sinful.
Favorite lyric: You hold my every moment / You calm my raging seas / You walk with me through fire / And heal all my disease
#6 – “God is Able”
Three simple words. Honestly, the beauty of Hillsong is often marked by the stark simplicity of their lyrics as the heart takes center stage.
Favorite lyric: God is with us / He will go before / He will never leave us / He will never leave us/ God is for us / He has open arms / He will never fail us / He will never fail us
#5 – “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”
Of all the songs on this list, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” has the greatest likelihood of climbing with time. This latest Hillsong United masterpiece, fresh off Zion, has inundated me with confidence amid some insane life-decisions. Newcomer Taya Smith sings some powerful lyrics with the force and presence of Brooke Fraser. My advice to all new listeners of this long song: close your eyes. Picture yourself on that boat with the disciples, stepping onto waves like Peter. And then let that surging bridge carry you forward.
Favorite lyric: Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders / Let me walk upon the waters / Wherever You would call me / Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander / And my faith will be made stronger / In the presence of my Savior
#4 – “From the Inside Out”
“From the Inside Out” was the very first Hillsong United song I ever heard. For that reason alone it ranks high, but I sincerely love everything about this song: the slow guitar start, the vulnerable opening lyric about being an utter failure, the accelerated guitar solo midway through, and ultimately, the way “in – side out” fits like a divine puzzle piece with “soul – cries out.” A Hillsong United oldie but a goodie; I will never tire of “From the Inside Out.”
Favorite lyric: Your will above all else my purpose remains / The art of losing myself in bringing You praise
#3 – “Forever Reign”
My YouthWorks summer in Milwaukee will forever be linked with “Forever Reign,” having sung it numerous nights with the kids. Each verse is so carefully crafted, contrasting vivid pictures of God with ourselves. He is good when nothing good exists in us; He is light when darkness engulfs. Lyric after poetically balanced lyric, I almost can’t handle the perpetual brilliance of “Forever Reign.”
Favorite lyric: You are more / You are more / Than my words will ever say
#2 – “Oh You Bring”
First, there was this simplistic performance. Then, a beautiful black-and-white cut from Hillsong’s film, The I-Heart Revolution: We’re All In This Together. Every version of “Oh You Bring” moves me. Reminds me of the drastic difference between life with Christ and life without — of all the things Christ brings to a hurting yearning desperately searching world. Cue Crocker’s soul-squishing guitar strums…
Favorite lyric: And You open the door for me / And You laid down Your life to set me free / All that I am will serve You Lord / And you opened my eyes to see / All the wonder and awe of Christ in me / Jesus, You’re everything I need
#1 – “Cornerstone”
Often songs become favorites not even for the song itself, really, but for the emotionally attached real-life experience. For me and “Cornerstone,” it was my insane summer camp journey in North Carolina. I’d never endured anything so intrinsically/extrinsically demanding as that camp, so for a song like “Cornerstone” to release that same summer, proclaiming hope and strength in a Rock that weathers every storm — well, it’s been my clear all-time favorite Hillsong United song ever since.
Favorite lyric: Christ alone / Cornerstone / Weak made strong / In the Savior’s love / Through the storm / He is Lord / Lord of all
So there you have my complete, irrefutable favorites list of Hillsong United! Again.
Until I refute it. Again.
As before, bringing Hillsong United’s illustrious musical canvas down to just eleven songs was supremely difficult. I omitted mega-hits like “Hosanna,” “The Stand,” “Lead Me to the Cross,” and even “Mighty to Save,” despite adoring all four.
Apologies if your favorite didn’t make the list! But that’s kinda what I want to know:
What say you? What’s your favorite Hillsong United song? What did I leave out?