Below, Matthew Schmitz lists “fifty essential religious songs” and asks what he missed. I wouldn’t suggest that Matt has missed anything on his list. For me, though, I add at least a few classical selections. The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah would rank at the the top of my list of essential religious songs.

So, too, I’d also include the quando corpus  and amen from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater  on my top 50 list. Perhaps a bit more eccentrically, ever since my daughter’s choir sang it last year, I’ve been a sucker for Michael Engelhardt’s percussion-rich arrangement of Gaudete .

More in the spirit of Matt’s list, I’d include Mahalia Jackson’s Power of the Holy Ghost  among my favorite songs. I’d also suggest consideration for Touch Me Lord Jesus and When My Savior Calls Me Home by the Angelics.  And for the fetching orthgonality of ominous words with toe-tapping music, I’d add Dorthy Love Coates, There’s No Hiding Place .

Finally, to leaven this with a bit of snarkiness – In the Garden would be on my bottom-50 list. Indeed, on my bottom-ten list (too sappy and sentimental). And while I’m at it, close to the bottom would also be Earth and All Stars. While I appreciate the intention of the hymn, aside from the sheer goofiness of some of the verses (“loud boiling test tubes”), my biggest complaint, as with so much modern religious communication, is that the adjectives are called upon to carry way too heavy a load.

Articles by James R. Rogers

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