Gospel music has a rich cultural history dating back decades, adapting from ‘slave songs’ from before the American Civil War to modern and contemporary hip-hop-influenced tunes.
It is a genre of Christian music that usually has dominant vocals, often with a strong use of harmony, with Christian or biblical music.
Gospel music is designed to raise spirits and uplift Christian believers, with the hope of bringing ‘salvation’ to non-believers.
Gospel music often intersects with and influences mainstream music, with large hip-hop artists like Kanye West often building a bridge between the two genres.
We hope you enjoy our pick of the best gospel songs of all time.
1. “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams
“I Saw The Light” is a country gospel song written by American singer-songwriter Hank Williams.
Williams was apparently inspired to write the song when he was coming back from a concert, inebriated in the backseat, and his mother roused him to tell him that she ‘just saw the light’, signifying that they were near Montgomery.
The song was not initially successful but has gained recognition over time.
2. “The Lord’s Prayer” by Dinah Washington
“The Lord’s Prayer” is a musical interpretation of the biblical Lord’s prayer.
It is a central Christian prayer which Jesus taught as a way to pray.
Dinah Washington was an American singer and pianist, and is often cited as ‘the most popular black female recording artist of the 1950s’.
She recorded her rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” in 1953.
3. “Somebody Prayed For Me” by Dorothy Norwood
“Somebody Prayed For Me” is an upbeat and cheerful gospel song.
Dorothy Norwood was an American gospel singer that originally began touring at the young age of eight.
She began singing with fellow gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.
In the 1960s, she was a member of gospel group The Caravans.
4. “The Battle Is The Lord’s” by Yolanda Adams
“The Battle Is The Lord’s” was recorded for Adam’s 1993 Save The World album.
It was named Song of the Year at the Stellar Awards in 1994.
It has been certified Gold by the RIAA.
5. “I’m Going Away” by Walter Hawkins
Walter Hawkins was an American songwriter, gospel singer and pastor.
He was an influential figure in urban contemporary gospel music, with a career that spanned four decades.
He is the brother of Edwin Hawkins, who is also a renowned gospel singer.
He was married to Tramaine Hawkins, another famous gospel singer, for twenty three years.
“I’m Going Away” was released in 1987.
6. “Gospel Medley” by Destiny’s Child
“Gospel Medley” is a song from Destiny’s Child’s 2001 album, Survivor.
Their album was a huge commercial success, debuting at number one in the album charts in over fifteen countries.
The lyrics sing about being grateful for everything they have been through.
7. “Let Us Praise The Lord” by George Banton
“Let Us Praise The Lord” is an upbeat gospel song from Goerge Banton.
Banton was a Jamaican-Canadian soul and gospel artist.
His song has a distinctive reggae/soul feel.
8. “Walk By Faith” by Tye Tribbett ft. PJ Morton
This is a more recent song, released by Tribbett in 2022.
Tye Tribbett is a gospel singer and songwriter, known for being the director and founder of Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning gospel group Tye Tribbett & GA (Greater Anointing).
The song features PJ Morton, a Grammy-winning musician and producer.
9. “Ultralight Beam” by Sunday Service Choir
Sunday Service Choir is a gospel group led by rapper, artist and producer Kanye West.
West began the group in 2019, performing gospel versions of his own songs.
The original “Ultralight Beam” features vocals from famous gospel singer Kirk Franklin.
The “ultralight beam” has been interpreted as the connection “straight to heaven”.
10. “New Life” by John P. Kee & The New Life Community Choir
John P Kee has been active as a gospel singer for more than twenty years.
He is known for mixing traditional gospel music with more contemporary gospel styles.
He has a distinctive husky and soulful voice, and is nicknamed “The Prince of Gospel”.
11. “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” by Mighty Clouds of Joy
“I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” is an R&B/Soul-influenced gospel song released in 1978 by Reverend James Clark.
Mighty Clouds of Joy are an American gospel traditional gospel quartet.
They released their own version of “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” in 1980.
12. “When God Is In The Building” by The Pace Sisters
The Anointed Pace Sisters, often known as the Pace sisters or TAPS, are an American gospel group based in Atlanta.
They have released five albums throughout their career.
The group released “When God Is In The Building” for their “Savoy Gospel Classics” album in 2001.
13. “Glory To Glory To Glory” by Fred Hammond
Fred Hammond is regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary gospel music.
He is known for incorporating R&B, hip-hop and disco into his music.
He is a multiple Grammy, Stellar and Dove winner and nominee.
“Glory to Glory to Glory” was released in 1995.
14. “You Brought The Sunshine” by The Clark Sisters
You Brought The Sunshine was The Clark Sisters’ eighth album, released in 1981.
The album’s track “You Brought The Sunshine (Into My Life)” was a crossover hit, selling over 200,000 units.
In 2020, the song reached number two on the Gospel Digital Sales chart.
15. “Pode Morar Aqui” by Theo Rubia
Theo Rubia is a singer that specializes in Christian worship music, with over 200,000 followers on Instagram.
He released “Pode Morar Aqui” in 2019 for his album Chave.
16. “There Is No Way” by Ricky Dillard & New G
Ricky Dillard is an American gospel singer that began his career in the 1980s, as a Chicago house musician.
“There Is No Way” is from Ricky Dillard’s 2004 album Unplugged.
All of his Christian albums have charted on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart.
17. “Here I Am To Worship” by Hillsong Worship
Hillsong is a megachurch based in Australia that has produced hundreds of Christian songs on albums since 1992.
The church and their music have achieved worldwide fame.
They released “Here I Am To Worship” in 2005 for the Ultimate Worship album.
18. “Wings Of A Dove” by Ferlin Husky
“Wings Of A Dove” is a country song written by Bob Ferguson in 1958.
It was more notably recorded by Ferlin Husky in 1960.
The song alludes to a passage from the Bible about God sending Noah a dove.
19. “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” by Matt Redman
“10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” is a worship song co-written by English singer-songwriter Matt Redman and Swedish songwriter Jonas Myrin, released in 2013.
The song won two Grammys, one for ‘Best Gospel’ and one for ‘Best Contemporary Christian Music Song’.
The song is a contemporary version of a traditional worship song.
20. “Follow Me – Faith” by Sunday Service Choir
Kanye West released a song called “Fade” for his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, 2016.
The song was reinterpreted with “Follow Me” by Aly-US and released by the West’s Sunday Service Choir, in a remix called “Follow Me – Faith”.
The reinterpretation received positive reviews from music critics.
21. “I Know Who I Am” by Sinach
Sinach is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and was a senior worship leader at Loveworld until 2021.
She topped the Billboard Christian Songwriter for 12 weeks, and was the first artist to do so.
She was the first Nigerian to win the ‘Song of the Year’ award at the GMA Dove Awards.
22. “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone
“Sinnerman” or “Sinner Man” is an African American traditional spiritual song that has often been re-interpreted over the years.
The lyrics describe a sinner attempting to escape divine justice on Judgment Day.
Nina Simone’s recording of “Sinnerman” is one of her most famous songs.
She often used the ten-minute piece to end her performances.
23. “Get Up” by Mary Mary
Mary Mary is a female American urban gospel singer, made up of sisters Erica and Trecina.
“Get Up” was released as the third single for their fourth album, The Sound.
The song was released to appeal to a young, mainstream audience while still maintaining the religious message.
The song won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel in 2009.
24. “Amazing Grace” by Ray Charles
“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn that was originally written in 1779.
It is particularly popular in the United States.
Ray Charles was an American singer and songwriter, regarded as one of the most influential singers in history.
He released a version of “Amazing Grace” in 2001, for the album Music Of Hope.
25. “Great Is Your Mercy” by Donnie McClurkin
“Great Is Your Mercy” is a 2000 song released by American gospel singer and minister Donnie McClurklin
McClurkin had a difficult childhood: when he was eight years old, his two-year-old brother was hit and killed by a speeding car and shortly afterwards he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his great-uncle.
McClurkin found solace in going to church.
26. “Oh Happy Day” by The Edwin Hawkins Singers
“Oh Happy Day” is a 1967 gospel music arrangement of the 1755 hymn.
It was recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers and became an international hit, reaching number one on the US Singles chart.
It is now recognised as a gospel music standard.
27. “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder
“Higher Ground” is a funk song written by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder.
The song covers themes of Christian morality and astrological mysticism.
The song reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wonder has said that the song is about the idea of reincarnation.
28. “He Reigns” by Kevin LeVar
Kevin LeVar is an American musician who founded the independent gospel music label, God Glorified Music, which has recently been renamed One Sound Entertainment.
LeVar released “He Reigns” in 2010 for his album Let’s Come Together.
The album charted on the Gospel Albums chart.
29. “Goin’ Up Yonder” by Tramaine Hawkins
Tramaine Hawkins was born in San Francisco, California.
She grew up Christian and joined gospel group The Heavenly Tones when she was still in high school.
She joined the Edwin Hawkins Choir aged seventeen, later becoming a featured soloist with her late husband Walter Hawkins’ Love Center Choir.
She released “Growing Up Yonder” in 2008.
30. “I’ll Fly Away” by The Kossoy Sisters
“I’ll Fly Away” is a hymn written in 1929, which was apparently influenced by the 1924 secular ballad “The Prisoner’s Song”.
It is thought to be the most recorded gospel song.
The Kossoy Sisters released their version in 1956.
31. “Abide With Me” by Thelonious Monk
“Abide With Me” was a song released by American jazz pianist and songwriter Thelonious Monk and his septet, for their album Monk’s Music.
“Abide With Me” is the first song on the album and is played only by the septet’s horn section.
The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.
32. “Sweeping Through The City” by Shirley Caesar
Shirley Caesar was a renowned gospel singer with a career spanning over seven decades.
She is nicknamed “the First Lady of Gospel” and has 11 Grammy awards to her name.
She released “Sweeping Through The City” in 1987.
33. “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” by Mahalia Jackson
“He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” is an African-American spiritual that was first published in 1927.
It has been recorded by countless artists over the years.
Mahalia Jackson’s version charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
34. “The Cross” by Prince
Sign O’ The Times is the ninth studio album from American singer-songwriter and producer Prince.
It is Prince’s most critically acclaimed album, despite not being as commercially popular as Purple Rain.
The lyrics are about Prince’s religious beliefs.
35. “God Is” by Kanye West
West’s ninth studio album Jesus Is King follows Christian themes, signifying a change from his usual style.
It won Top Christian Album and Top Gospel Album at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.
“God Is” is the eighth track on the album.
36. “My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)” by Johnny Cash
“My God Is Real” was released by Johnny Cash in 1962 for his album Hymns From The Heart.
This was the second gospel album from Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash is one of the most famous and influential singer-songwriters of all time, progressing into themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption in the later stages of his career.
37. “Days of Elijah” by Robin Mark
Robin Mark is a Northern Irish Christian singer-songwriter and worship leader.
“Days of Elijah” released in 1996 is his signature song.
His later album Revival in Belfast led to him being recognised across the US.
38. “Let The Church Say Amen” by Andrae Crouch
Andrae Crouch was a gospel singer, songwriter, record producer and pastor.
He is referred to as the ‘father of modern gospel music’.
He has collaborated with many famous names, such as Stevie Wonder and Philip Bailey.
He was known as the go-to producer for artists that wanted to feature a gospel choir in their music.
39. “Let Me Live” by Charley Pride
“Let Me Live” was written by Ben Powers and recorded by country artist Charley Pride in 1971.
It became a top 40 hit and won the Grammy Award for ‘Best Gospel’ in 1972.
It was Pride’s only Gospel song to become a major hit.
40. “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” by Louis Armstrong
“Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” is an African-American spiritual song that originated during the time of slavery.
It has been covered by many artists, including Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke and Marian Anderson.
Armstrong was one of the most influential figures in jazz music.
41. “Shackles (Praise You)” by Mary Mary
“Shackles (Praise You)” is the debut single by gospel singer-songwriter duo Mary Mary.
It is considered the group’s signature song and has been deemed a pioneer song in the gospel music genre.
A sample of the song was featured in Stormzy’s song “Rainfall”.
42. “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp
Marvin Sapp is an American gospel singer who recorded with the group Commissioned during the 1990s before embarking on his solo career.
Sapp began singing at church aged four.
“Never Would Have Made It” is a song from his seventh album Thirsty, released in 2007.
He has said that the song is inspired by the divine inspiration he experienced after his father passed away.
43. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Aretha Franklin
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a Christian hymn that was written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855.
The tune was composed in 1868 by Charles Crozat Converse.
Aretha Franklin recorded a version for her 1972 album Amazing Grace.
44. “I Love The Lord” by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston was an American singer-songwriter, often nicknamed “The Voice”.
She is known for her powerful vocals, and is the only artist to have had seven consecutive number-one singles.
She recorded “I Love The Lord” in 1966 with the Georgia Mass Choir.
45. “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs
“Break Every Chain” is a song from American singer Tasha Cobbs for her debut album, Grace (2013).
The song topped the Billboard Gospel Charts.
She won a Grammy for ‘Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance’.
46. “I Can Go To God In Prayer” by Albertina Walker
Albertina Walker was a gospel singer, humanitarian and actress, who passed away in 2010.
She was greatly influenced by fellow gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was her friend and confidante.
Jackson took Albertina on the road when she was just a teenager.
Walker released “I Can Go To God in Prayer” in 1981.
47. “Never Give Up” by Yolanda Adams
“Never Give Up” is a song from Yolanda Adam’s eighth album, Believe.
The album was released in December of 2001.
The song was apparently inspired in response to the tragic events of 9/11 a few months earlier.
48. “I’m Not Tired Yet” by The Mississippi Mass Choir
The Mississippi Mass Choir is a gospel choir based in Jackson, Mississippi.
After their debut album was released, Billboard magazine certified it as the number one spiritual album in the country.
“I’m Not Tired Yet” was released in 2005.
49. “Imagine Me” by Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin is an American choir director, gospel singer and songwriter.
He is best known for leading contemporary urban gospel choirs and has won 16 Grammy Awards.
He is dubbed the ‘Reigning King of Urban Gospel’.
“Imagine Me” was released in 2005 for his album Hero and won the “Grammy Award for Gospel Music”.
50. “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin
Donnie McClurklin is an American gospel singer and minister who has won multiple awards for his contributions to gospel music.
He is one of the top-selling gospel musicians, having sold over ten million albums worldwide.
He released “Stand” in 1996 for his self-titled album.
51. “Mary, Don’t You Weep” by Aretha Franklin
“Mary, Don’t You Weep” is a spiritual that originates from before the American civil war, often referred to as a ‘slave song’.
It includes coded messages of hope and resistance.
Aretha Franklin recorded a version of the song for her 1972 album Amazing Grace.
52. “Breathe On Us” by Kari Jobe
Kari Jobe is an American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter.
She has received two Grammy Award nominations and ten Dove Award nominations.
She released “Breathe On Us” for her 2014 album Majestic.
53. “Changed” by Tramaine Hawkins
Tramaine Hawkins released “Changed” in 2001 for her album All My Best To You Vol 2.
The lyrics reference the narrator having had a ‘change’ come over them and now feeling free.
Hawkins’ version features her singing with a choir accompaniment.
54. “Walk In the Light” by Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin released “Walk In The Light” for her One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism album, which was released in 1987.
Franklin passed away in 2018.
In 2020, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
55. “Help Me Believe” by Kirk Franklin
“Help Me Believe” is a song by Kirk Franklin from his 2007 album, The Fight Of My Life.
It won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song at the 2009 Grammy awards.
The lyrics are about asking God for help to believe.
56. “Follow God” by Kanye West
“Follow God” is a song from West’s Jesus Is Real album from 2019.
The song is classed as a religious hip hop track and was awarded Top Gospel Song and Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of The Year at the Billboard Music Awards and GMA Dove Awards in 2020.
The song debuted at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
57. “Blessed Assurance” by The Celebration Choir
“Blessed Assurance” is a well known Christian hymn.
The lyrics were written in 1873 by blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby, to music written by Phoebe Knapp.
The Celebration Choir released a recording of the song in 2010.
58. “He’s Able” by Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin released “He’s Able” in 1993 for his album Kirk Franklin and the Family.
The lyrics are about believing in God’s abilities.
The album was created in collaboration with a seventeen-voice choir.
59. “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker
Bishop Hezekiah Walker is a popular American gospel musician and pastor of prominent Brooklyn New York Pentecostal megachurch, Love Fellowship Tabernacle.
“Every Praise” was released in 2013 for his album Azusa: The Next Generation.
The song was nominated for the Soul Train Music Award for Best Gospel/International Song.
60. “The Old Rugged Cross” by Alan Jackson
“The Old Rugged Cross” is a popular hymn written in 1912 by American evangelist and song-leader George Bennard.
It has been a country gospel favorite ever since.
Alan Jackson is an American singer-songwriter, and he covered the song in 2006.
61. “If He Did It Before… Same God” by Tye Tribbett
Tye Tribbett released “If He Did It Before… Same God” for his 2013 album Greater Than (Live).
It won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel song that year.
Tribbett and his wife pastor the Live Church in Orlando, Florida.
62. “Love Theory” by Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin released “Love Theory” for his album Long, Live, Love in 2019.
The lyrics express an appreciation for God’s unconditional love.
It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance/Song
63. “Jesus Paid It All” by Kim Walker-Smith, Worship Circle
“Jesus Paid It All” is a traditional American hymn about the penal substitutionary atonement for sin by the death of Jesus.
Worship is a community of worship leaders that began in 2014.
They released the album Worship Circle Hymns in 2019.
64. “Touch The Hem of His Garment” by Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke was an American singer-songwriter that was thought to be one of the most influential figures in jazz music.
He is often referred to as the “King of Soul”.
In 1964, he was shot and killed by the manager of a motel in Los Angeles.
He was a central figure in the Black Rights movement.
65. “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers
“I’ll Take You There” is a song written by Al Bell and recorded by the soul/gospel family band The Staple Singers.
It stayed on the charts for 15 weeks and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Many of the Staple Singers’ songs reference civil rights and social conditions.
This song is thought to be imagining a world in which the civil rights movement has succeeded.
Best Gospel Songs – Final Thoughts
Whether you are spiritual or not, there is likely to be some songs in this list that resonate with you.
Gospel music is a cornerstone of Christian media and has a very important place in the heart of the Church.
Hymns and gospel songs often serve as a means for worshippers to feel closer to God.