The Best Gospel Music Songs of All Time

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A list of the best gospel music songs of all time, including information on the artists who performed them.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand – Thomas A. Dorsey

Precious Lord, Take My Hand is a gospel song written by Thomas A. Dorsey and first performed by Mahalia Jackson in 1932. The song has been covered by many artists, including Elvis Presley, who included it in his 1968 gospel album How Great Thou Art.

The song is a prayer for strength and guidance, and its lyrics express the hope that God will lead the singer through dark times. Precious Lord is one of the most popular gospel songs of all time, and its simple yet powerful message has resonated with people of all faiths.

Amazing Grace – John Newton

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was greatly influenced by several pivotal events. Initially sea-bound as a slave ship pilot, he became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric, served several congregations in England, and also helped to found thecliffe society.[1]

Newton’s story of redemption is well-known. As a slave ship captain, he was involved in the transport of slaves from Africa to North America. After experiencing a violent storm at sea, Newton had a religious conversion and thereafter began campaigning against the slave trade. In later years he referred to himself as “a great sinner”.[2]

The hymn “Amazing Grace” is based on Newton’s own testimony of God’s grace and his deliverance from slavery and sin.[3] The words of the first verse are taken directly from Newton’s autobiography, Outline of Galileo’s Life (1764).[4]

The hymn first appeared in print in 1779[5] in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns but was not originally titled “Amazing Grace”. It has been associated with numerous individuals, both real and fictional. It has also inspired works of art including poems, novels, films, paintings, plays and blockbusters such as Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) which explores the legal case surrounding the United States’ extradition of slaves who had hijacked the Spanish slave ship La Amistad.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus – Charles C. Converse

This hymn was written by prominent American lawyer and hymnodist Charles C. Converse in 1854. The hymn first appeared in the 1855 edition of The Sabbath Hymn and Tune Book, one of the first publications of the American Sunday School Union. It has been a popular choice for both congregational singing as well as solo performances ever since.

Blessed Assurance – Fanny Crosby

“Blessed Assurance” is a song written by Fanny Crosby in 1873. The song quickly became popular among evangelical Christians. It has been called “the best-known and best-loved hymn of the church.”

Softly and Tenderly – Will L. Thompson

Will L. Thompson’s Softly and Tenderly was originally published in 1880 as a piano solo. It wasn’t until 1910 that it was set to the now-familiar words, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me.”

This simple yet profound hymn reminds us that no matter how far we may have strayed, Jesus is always there, waiting with open arms to forgive and save us. And it’s never too late to come home.

In the Garden – C. Austin Miles

In the Garden is a gospel music song written by C. Austin Miles in 1912. The song is based on John 20:11-18, in which Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection.

The song became widely popular, especially among evangelical Christians, and has been recorded by many artists over the years. It is considered to be one of the most important gospel music songs of all time.

Be Still, My Soul – Katharina von Schlegel

This beautiful hymn was written in 1752 by Katharina von Schlegel. It is based on a poem by Finnish writer ja poet, Selma Lagerlöf. The hymn has been translated into many languages and is popular among Christians of all denominations.

The lyrics of this hymn are a reminder to Christians that they should trust in God’s sovereignty and not be discouraged by the trials of this world. The second stanza specifically mentions how Christians should find comfort in knowing that they will one day be with God in Heaven.

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us – Dorothy A. Thrupp

This hymn was written by Dorothy A. Thrupp in 1836 and is based on Psalm 23. It has been a favorite of many Christians over the years as it offers a beautiful picture of God leading and caring for His people. The hymn also speaks to the idea of being eternally safe in God’s care, which is a comforting thought for many people.

Jesus Loves Me – Anna B. Warner

One of the most beloved Christian hymns of all time, “Jesus Loves Me” was written by Anna B. Warner in 1862. The simple yet profound lyrics express the deep love that God has for each and every one of us, and the tune is equally as stirring. Sung by Christians of all ages, this song is a beautiful reminder of the never-ending love of our Savior.

Holy, Holy, Holy – Reginald Heber

This hymn is based on a poem by Rev. Reginald Heber, who also wrote the hymn “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” The hymn was first published in 1826 and quickly became a favorite of Christians around the world. It is still sung today in churches of many denominations.

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