9 Great Hymns Every Christian Should Know

9 Great Hymns Every Christian Should Know August 16, 2017

Great HymnsThe practice of singing among Christians has deep roots in the church. God’s people have used songs for thousands of years to unite believers, stir emotions,  help the heart learn and concentrate on weighty rich truths, and find encouragement in a times of struggles. Due to the profound effect that select hymns have had on the church’s history, an argument can be made that there are some songs every Christian should know.

Although familiarity has seemed to scale back in the past 30 or so years, (due to the advent of a more contemporized worship styles) hymns in worship have started to make a big comeback. Many song writers have tapped into their value and begun reviving many old hymns, giving them a more modern appeal.

Regardless of your musical preference, there are great hymns that contain rich truths expressed so wonderfully they are as fresh with relevance as the day they were written.

Here are 9 great hymns every Christian should know:


1) Come Thou Fount

Written in 1758 by Robert Robinson this song tops our list of great hymns. The words were penned just a few years after Robert was converted at a George Whitefield sermon. The melody is simple, memorable, and beautiful. This hymn also contains one of the most beloved stanzas in all of hymnary:

“Oh, to grace how great a debtor

daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness, like a fetter,

bind my wandering heart to thee:

prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

prone to leave the God I love;

here’s my heart, O take and seal it;

seal it for thy courts above.”


Listen here


2) Be Thou My Vision

Originally a very old Irish poem by a monk named Dallan Forgaill, it was translated into the version we know today by Mary Elizabeth Byrne in 1912. This hymn echoes a message that could be sung at any time of our lives; that God would be our vision and focus above all else.


Listen here



3)A Mighty Fortress Is My God

This hymn, penned by the great reformer Martin Luther, and is widely known as “the battle hymn” for the reformation. Unlike many other hymns on this list, this one has a more rugged and strength-driven feel. It has been a source of inspiration for Protestants and Lutherans for 500 years. The first line, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing” is engraved on Luther’s monument is Wittenberg, Germany to this very day.


Listen here



4) Before the Throne of God Above

This hymn witnessed a resurgence in popularity when Christian Contemporary duo Shane & Shane and Vikki Cook of Sovereign Grace released an updated version a few years ago. The song was originally written by Charitie Lees Bancroft in the 1860s.

The hymn highlights awe inspiring realities that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, before the throne God. One of my favorite lines reads, “Because the sinless Savoir died, my sinful soul is counted free, For God, the Just, is satisfied.”


Listen here



5) Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

This hymn was written by the acclaimed Augustus Toplady in 1775 and provides a wonderful picture of how Christ is our ancient Rock of protection from judgement and doom. It also contains the famous line, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Listen here



6) And Can It Be

Even though this hymn was written by Charles Wesley (a Methodist) in 1738, it has come to be a beloved hymn by the reformed community due to Christ exalting lyrics and the election imagery in the 4th stanza:

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”


In recent years the hymn has seen a makeover, most notably by Indelible Grace.


Listen here



7) Amazing Grace

Any “best-of” or great hymns list that excludes this classic should be disregarded almost immediately. This well-known hymn was written by John Newton in the late 1700’s and the lyrics find their roots in Newton’s conversation from slave-ship captain to abolitionist. Newton never got over the sin and pending judgment that Jesus saved Him from and this song is an expression of that gratitude.

There are countless renditions of the song; From Elvis to Gospel choirs, there is sure to be a version for your liking.

“I can see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy…. unless it was to show, by astonishing instance, that with Him ‘nothing is impossible’” – John Newton

Listen here


8) Nothing but The Blood

Written by Robert Lowry in 1876, this great hymn echoes powerful truths about the saving power of Jesus blood and imputed righteousness we receive by faith as Christians. Many have suggested the scriptural foundation for this song to be from Hebrews 9:22, which reads, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”


Listen here



9) It Is Well

Despite the odd history and theology of Horatio Spafford, the story behind the final entry on our list of great hymns is an inspiration for anyone going through trials. The lyrics were written when Mr. Spafford took a boat and passed over the spot where a previous boat had sunk killing his 4 daughters. In that moment, he penned the famous words, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.”

My personal favorite presentation of this song comes from Shane & Shane.


Listen here





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  • pud

    What better way to keep the sheep indoctrinated than nonsense put to music

    • Jack Lee

      Care to explain that comment?

      • pud

        Sure…”churches” are institutions of indoctrination into the apocalyptic death cult called “christianity” They perpetuate lies, indoctrinate children, promote falsehoods and superstition all the while impeding the advancement of civilization. They are places the credulous and gullible go to mutually reinforce each others delusional world views and ensure that their mental shackles are securely fastened

        • Jack Lee

          There is not a word of that statement I agree with. But I am curious how you think Christianity is “impeding the advancement of civilization”

          • pud

            I don’t care in the least if you agree or not. All religions, all dogmatic ideologies impede critical thinking, rationality, science, logic and the things that have lifted humanity out of the darkness of ignorance. Superstitions promote gullibility. Faith is defined as gullibility. The history of christianity proves this to be true. There was virtually no progress or improvement of the human condition until the age of reason and secular governments took the power away from religions. You can see it play out right before your eyes when you compare the well being of people in secular nations to those mired in backward theocratic nations.

          • Jack Lee

            The irony to me is you argue religion is close-minded, yet your entire argument is one of extreme narrowness. Furthermore, faith is NOT defined as gullibility; I’ve checked. You speak as if you carry some authority on the subjects, but the nature of religion/faith being speaking to something outside and greater than ourselves disqualifies you. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But your definitions and terms are very flawed and poorly executed. Your statement of the “well being” of nations is incredible vague and useless. By what standard is their well-being improved? Yours?

            Science will never be able to do anything for the fundamental problem of the human condition, sin. Only faith in Jesus can do this.

            Lastly, I do appreciate the thoughtfulness by which you’ve communicated with me. Thank you for conversation.

          • pud

            “Faith” is “belief” without evidence. That sir is gullibility. That is credulity. Anything accepted by “faith” is exactly equal to anything else accepted by “faith” Your “faith” in an invisible god is on the exact same level as another persons “faith” in alien abduction or Bigfoot.

            I do not argue from “authority” that’s what ALL religions and ideologies do. I argue from reason, logic and empirical data.

            It’s not my “opinion” as I can demonstrate every claim I make.

            It is empirically demonstrable that the well being of citizens of Nordic nations is better than any theocratic muslim nation….it can be measured by GDP of the economy, longevity, nutrition, scientific achievement etc

            There is NO such thing as “sin”….An entirely made up bit of guilt and shame to keep the sheep begging for the cure…more religion!

            There is NO evidence that anyone name of “jesus” ever existed let alone did or said anything! It’s a man made story that gullible people accept without critical thought

          • Jack Lee

            I will not even bother responding to most of the comments as they are rooted in absurdness and it will be fruitless for both of us. however, I am still curious on how you can argue that secular countries have a better well-being than religious ones. There are glaring few obstacles that I see here for you:

            1) communism – the very embodiment of a purely secular society and history has been clear has this has played out for people. There is very relevant example in North Korea to study.

            And 2) it is a common fact that secular nations have far less children than religious ones (check out this recent article from Australia for a brief reference: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-might-be-losing-its-religion-but-the-world-isnt-20170811-gxucrs.html). If secularization is so good for societies you would think it would ensure longevity (which you mention as an attribute to a secular society), however, simple math indicates that a secular society is slowly killing themselves off. Less children = narrowing future. Now, I admit we are centuries from seeing any drastic effect on the global economy, scientific achievement, etc.. But the ideas we are debating are ancient in their own nature and the scope of interpretation should also be large. How can you are all of these things are progressing, without posterity to hold ideas they will fizzle out.

          • pud

            You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. “Communism” in all its forms was organized EXACTLY like a religion! There was one supreme authority that could never be challenged just like your invisible made up “god” North Korea is a theocracy! The “divine” rulers are revered as deities with supernatural powers…just like your made up invisible deity

            LOL…citing birthrates proves NOTHING. The most prolific breeders on the planet are muslims and sub saharan Africans where well being is the lowest in the world!

            The prosperous secular nations are Japan, Denmark, Norway etc where standards of living and measures of happiness and well being are at the very top of the list

          • Jack Lee

            You are talking circles. You’re arguing for the secularized superior society. I present the most secular societies as an example, and you say they act like a religion? You are making up your own definitions. So basically, the well-being of people is best capture when they think like you?

            The very first country you list, Japan, has a top 10 highest suicide rate in the world. how can that be a beacon of happiness??!!??! Not to mention most of the others are very secular nations. How can a countries well being and longevity be so good if they are slowing weeding themselves off the planet and have the highest suicide rates? There is some data that suggests China and Russia could endure a full economic collapse in the next 60 years due to such low birth rates.

            Lastly, western civilization has benefited greatly from Christianity. The ideas and medicine advancements have found their roots in societies shaped and modeled by Christian ideas and ethics.

          • pud

            LOL…no I am not making up anything…that’s your job. Communism was NOT secular and never had a secular government. They were organized exactly like a religion with a single unimpeachable authority in charge. Truly secular nations like Norway are organized as democracies, republics etc

            One statistic about Japan doesn’t illustrate the national mood at all.

            Over breeding is not a quality of well being dummy

            BS…Religion and christianity have given society exactly NOTHING. It was only through centuries of torment and theocracy that the Enlightenment arose. No religion EVER put forward anything close to the scientific method for describing reality. All you and your kind have EVER brought was oppression, bigotry, racism, cruelty, superstition and ignorance….snakes and donkeys still don’t talk.

            Denmark dropped to second place this year, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia and Sweden (which tied for ninth place), according to the latest World Happiness Report, released Monday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.Mar 21, 2017
            10 happiest countries in the world in 2017 – CNN | CNN Travel

          • Jack Lee

            Suicide rates are a throw out statistic to you? Wow. That logic flows into what I have been saying a devaluing of life is hardly a fertile ground for well being and longevity. another country you listed as an example, recently made news because of their tactic to eradicate down syndrome. i won’t go into details, but the method is not one preserving life.

            This discussion is headed no where and it should end here. I suggest you check out “Whats So Great About Christianity” by Dinesh D’Souza

          • Chris Harmon

            Dear Pud, your obnoxious, insulting, and overly aggressive tone is hardly conducive to rational discourse much less changing hearts and minds. You are in fact a perfect example of the kind of life and attitude that these 9 songs wish to save people from. I wish you the best and hope you can learn to approach life in a more humble, open, less judgmental manner.

  • Tianzhu

    So glad you included “It Is Well with My Soul,” one of the greats. Check out Youtube’s video of the Three Tenors performing that.

    I would throw in a few more:
    Abide With Me
    Holy, Holy, Holy
    O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
    Rescue the Perishing
    O Worship the King
    Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
    I Gave My Life for Thee

    • Jack Lee

      Tianzhu, I will check that out!

  • Jonathan Chase

    All terrific choices, but I prefer the original tune to And Can It Be over any of the new ones (of which I think the nicest is by Phatfish). It’s a triumphal fanfare of salvation, and I don’t feel the new tunes really capture that.

    I think To God Be The Glory and Crown Him With Many Crowns deserve to be on there too.