Posted by: rcottrill | September 30, 2009

Top 10 Hymns of Blog Visitors

Some weeks ago I posted a “Top 10″ hymn poll and invited reader response. Below are the top eleven results, in descending order, with the first being the most popular. Interestingly, It Is Well with My Soul received almost twice as many votes as the perennial favourites, How Great Thou Art, and Amazing Grace.

1. It Is Well with My Soul
2. How Great Thou Art
3. Amazing Grace
4. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
5. And Can It Be?
6. Abide with Me
7. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
8. Jesus Loves Even Me
9. The Old Rugged Cross
10. Rock of Ages
11. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A few selections were mentioned only once. Several of them are certainly favourites of mine as well, though I wouldn’t necessarily put them in my “Top 10.” Here is a list of these (arranged alphabetically):

Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Blessing of Aaron
Great God of Wonders
He Giveth More Grace
I Will Sing of My Redeemer
I Will Be with You
I’ll Fly Away
Lord, I Am Fondly, Earnestly Longing
Never Alone
Not So in Haste My Soul
Someday
Sometime We’ll Understand
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
When in Our Music God is Glorified

Obviously, this is not a scientific poll. But it does give some idea of the songs people love. Thanks to those of you who participated. Here are some follow-up things you could do:

  • Take a poll of folks in your own congregation to see how their list of favourites compares.
  • Plan a church service around the “Top 10″ of your own church, or based on one of the lists on my blog. (Tip: Don’t just sing them in order. Give some thought to the themes of each, and see if they can be arranged in a logical way.) You could intersperse the songs with Scripture readings, devotional thoughts, or a bit about the history of the next hymn.
  • Send me your ideas for future polls. What about a poll to find your favourite hymn writers? Or favourite hymns on a particular subject–prayer, the cross, etc.?

Responses

  1. Hi, Mr. Robert. How glad am I to find this article, gives me the idea to do the same thing (make a poll) in my youth fellowship community. I hope from the poll, I can see how they define and understand hymns, and I would like to find out whether they know and appreciate -even though only a few- hymns.

    Perhaps, you could give me some sample questions for the poll. Honestly, I’ve never done this before. So I hope the poll result could show me their interests, views, or even experiences with hymns.

    I’m really looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    God bless.

    • As far as a poll is concerned, I only asked one question. I asked individuals to list their Top 10 favourite hymns, in order (that is, Number 1 being their most favourite, Number 2 their second favourite, and so on). I did this with a number of college classes I taught, and I’ve done it in churches, as well.

      Then, when I got the results back, I assigned a point value running in the opposite direction. In other words, if a hymn was put in first place, it was worth 10 points, second place was worth 9 points, and so on. Finally, I simply added up the points next to each hymn, and arranged them in order of their scores.

      In your case, if the group is smaller, or you’re afraid the young people would have trouble listing 10 hymns, you could make it “your top 3” or “your top 5.” It’s a bit of work calculating the results. But in the end you have a valuable list of favourites. Here’s part of the result of a poll I took in 1994.

      Amazing Grace: 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, 1, 2 = 42
      How Great Thou Art: 1, 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, 4, 5, 3, 2, 1 = 37
      All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name: 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 1, 1, 5 = 36
      Crown Him With Many Crowns: 2, 2, 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 4, 4, 3 = 28
      Blessed Assurance: 3, 5, 1, 4, 1, 3 = 17
      Great Is Thy Faithfulness: 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 4 = 15
      He Lives: 3, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1 = 11

  2. I took a poll of our church leaders for a class I was teaching. I only asked for the top 1 hymn, but I allowed 2 or 3 for those who couldn’t decide. I polled 10 leaders and the results were amazing! The first 5 immediately without any hesitation replied “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” That’s my favorite, too, though the more I study hymns the harder I find it to settle on just one favorite. My favorite changes from month to month. The other hymns our leaders chose were:
    Surely the Presence
    O Holy Night
    What a Friend We Have in Jesus
    Because He Lives
    In Christ Alone
    O How I Love Jesus
    By the Sea of Crystal
    Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
    Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
    Come Thou Fount
    When We All Get to Heaven
    Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
    The leaders I asked were: pastor, pastor’s wife, former pastor, organist, choir director, worship leader/high school youth group leader, treasurer/junior high youth group leader, education committee chair, janitor, church secretary.

    • Well done! I always think this is a useful exercise. If you check out my Topical Articles, and you’ll find a number of polls–most taken of many more people. I’ve given you the “Top 10” for 1899, 1953, 1990, and a more recent poll taken on my own blog.

      Before you make use of your own poll, I’d suggest you take a poll of the whole congregation, and get a broader picture. This can be done by including slips of paper in the church bulletin, have people write their favourites on them, and put the slips on the offering plate when it’s passed. You could maybe do this two weeks in a row, asking only those who didn’t respond the week before to take part. Then, tabulate the results.

      As to using the poll, here are a couple of ideas.

      1) You could design a service around some or all of these hymns. (You don’t need to sing all the stanzas of each hymn.) With the help of the pastor and the service leader, arrange them into a logical sequence, so that a devotional theme can be developed around them. You might intersperse Scripture readings, or devotional thoughts, or perhaps a story or two giving background of a couple of hymns. You might also assign one or two of the hymns to a soloist or singing group in the church. Since you’re dealing with “favourites,” I think you’ll find this makes a very effective and enjoyable service.

      2) You’ll have a list of the favourites of folks in your own church. But it’s useful to compare that list to the ones I’ve posted in my Topical Articles. Maybe the songs your congregation picked are simply special to them because they haven’t been exposed to others that are favourites elsewhere. (Where, for example, is “How Great Thou Art,” a common favourite.) A comparison of your list with those made by others may suggest some blind spots, some hymns that it would be worth introducing or using a bit more.

      In any event, well done, and I wish you well as you think of possible ways to make use of what you have. God bless.


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