My husband leads singing in our small church. Every now and then, he’ll ask me early on a Sunday morning, “What song is on your mind today?” Last Sunday, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” popped into my head. The first Sunday we couldn’t meet in person, it was “Day by Day.”
Was it only me gravitating to classic hymns of hope?
Turns out, no.
Hymns are meeting a need to combat fear and darkness with hope and faith. As Cliff Barrows said in an interview nearly a decade ago: “There is not a situation in life where there isn’t a hymn and a Scripture to meet the need.”1
During the time of coronavirus, people are turning to truth and praise in music—as they always have. What do the worship songs being sung most during COVID-19 have in common?
Song usage from Faithlife Proclaim cracks open the door to some interesting commonalities. First, let’s look at repeated words.
These words reveal . . .
The word will appeared more than any other. It’s in 67% of worship songs sung during COVID-19, assuring us of God’s provision and promises both for the present and the future.
- Struggle—and its opposite
Fear appears 39%, but faith appears 21%, trust 27%, and hope 27%.
Darkness appears 21%, but joy also appears 21%.
Popular worship songs during the pandemic don’t gloss over hurt, but they bring us through to the other side.
But what about the song choices themselves—what’s there to take away?
These are the top 15 trending songs during coronavirus, ranked by popularity, along with how they’ve leapt up in usage:
You might notice a pattern. Old hymns of the faith are back, like “It Is Well with My Soul” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Even newer songs like “No Longer Slaves” feature lyrics reminiscent of the Psalms:
From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins.
“Cornerstone,” another newer song, retunes “The Solid Rock” and adds a simple chorus. (You could say it shows up on the list twice.)
But it’s not just hymns that are trending—many of the songs on this list are quite theologically substantive. They put words to powerful concepts such as God’s immutability and timelessness, his faithfulness to his people, and his nearness when we call on him. The theology behind the songs remind us of our everlasting hope, our reasons to sing even in the darkest times, and God’s power to take what’s meant for evil and use it for good.
So as you plan your worship songs during COVID-19 and its aftermath, think about:
- dusting off some old favorites
- focusing on theologically meaty lyrics
- highlighting themes of security in God and enduring through difficulty
Save time (and typos) by importing your song lyrics into Faithlife Proclaim Church Presentation Software. Pro tip: You don’t need to manually import song lyrics from SongSelect by CCLI. You can directly connect your SongSelect account within Proclaim to access every song available to you in CCLI.