Posted by: rcottrill | August 26, 2009

Top 10 Hymns of 1990

In the July 29th blog, I shared with you a poll that identified the “Top 10” hymns of 1953. (You can check that posting to refresh your memory.)

Now let’s fast-forward nearly 40 years. In 1990 a poll was conducted in the United States involving 10,000 people. The respondents ranged in age from 5 to 96, and they came from 32 denominations. They were asked to name their favourite hymn. Here is the list of their Top 10.

1. Amazing Grace
2. How Great Thou Art
3. In the Garden
4. The Old Rugged Cross
5. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
6. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
7. Blessed Assurance
8. He Lives
9. Victory in Jesus
10. Holy, Holy, Holy

Notice that those ranking as the top three in 1953 are still on the list decades later. However, they have moved down, supplanted by Amazing Grace, and How Great Thou Art. These two popular hymns did not even appear in the earlier listing. Not because they were new songs. Amazing Grace, by John Newton, was first published in 1779, but it had been all but forgotten until folk singer Judy Collins made a recording of it in 1970. Her version of the song achieved top forty status on the hit parade of that day, and soon it was being sung everywhere.

As to How Great Thou Art, the original poem was written by a Swedish pastor named Carl Boberg back in 1886. But it was not until an English version was introduced by George Beverley Shea during Billy Graham’s evangelistic campaign in Toronto, in 1955, that the church in North America heard the song. Nearly seven decades after it was written, the song became a favourite. It has remained so ever since.


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