As a longtime critic of the oft-mediocre splinter of Christian music known as worship, I thought it only fitting to spend some time reflecting on and pointing to the standouts. In no particular order, here’s my thirty-three favorite worship-based albums of all-time. Now, it may be helpful to note that all-time is really the span of what is known as modern CCM, said to have begun in 1969 through today. Leaving the list unranked is a flat out rarity for this ranking nerd, but I thought I’d go the easier route this time around. Besides, outside of perhaps a Top 10 I don’t think I really could do it justice. Also, I’m not going to include many compilation albums, though some are so strong they couldn’t be excluded.

Why these albums, and what was my criteria you ask? Well, these are ones that I have stood up to the age test best, the ones I keep coming back to. Not only were they popular in their day, but I still look at them with favor and listen to them to present day. Also, I may raise a few eyebrows on what I consider a “worship” album, or what I hold up as “great” but hey, to each their own. These are also intended to run the gamut or toe the line of corporate worship-type albums and personal devotional-type albums. I do believe we need a healthy dose of both. I tried to balance sales and artistry as best as possible as we know one doesn’t always mean the other is true, and vice versa. But again, this is essentially more a favorites list than a stab at an objective best or greatest list.

So here we go…at the request of a friend, (and 33 because it’s his favorite number) here’s my picks for my 33 Favorite Worship Albums of All-Time.

John Van DeusenI am origami pt. 2: Every Power Wide Awake (2018)

My love for this psalm-like indie album of journal-entry level prayers only continues to grow with each listen.

Future of ForestryUnion (2019)

A fully instrumental album, I have used this record of epic tunes to meditate and refocus on Christ many times over the last few years.

David Crowder BandA Collision (2005)

Personally I think this is DC*B’s magnum opus with layers of depth going as deep as you dare into physics, numerology, etc.

Various Artists Glory Revealed (2009)

I’m a sucker for Scripture songs and I’d suggest there is none better than this bluegrass-tinged album helmed by Mac Powell and Author/Speaker David Nasser.

Kings KaleidoscopeBecoming Who We Are (2014)

I warmed to this one late, but it’s a truly excellent modern take on a few hymns as well as many instant classic originals.

Rivers & Robots Discovery (2018)

Not sure how I missed out on these UK worshippers until this one but now I’m all-in. Chill vibes. Introspective lyrics.

GungorBeautiful Things (2010)

Taking some cues from early DC*B, Gungor swung away from corporate style worship music to the indie vibes intended for personal use. The title track would make any list of great songs in the genre as far as I’m concerned.

Hillsong United People (2019)

One of the most recent to make this list but I’m firmly convinced they fully put it all together to release their most complete album with People.

Chris TomlinArriving (2004)

He gets a lot of grief from me and others for more recent output, but between Not To Us and Arriving, I think Tomlin was at his peak. “How Great Is Our God” and “Indescribable” are here and the deeper cut are quality.

Rich MullinsA Liturgy, A Legacy, A Ragamuffin Band (1993)

Perhaps not a worship album in the strictest sense, but Mullins did something with this album not typically done. He used a pop/CCM platform to release a liturgically structured and yet still accessible album. Well done.

DeliriousCutting Edge 1 & 2 (1995)

This is probably the album that started the worship industry snowball effect. Several iconic songs like “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” are present.

CitizensA Mirror Dimly (2016)

Lyrically poignant rock n’ roll worship.

Leeland Sound of Melodies (2006)

I’ve been high on this one ever since it’s release. One of the great debut albums of the genre.

Tommy WalkerNever Gonna Stop (2001)

The soundtrack to my Bible College years. “He Knows My Name” and “Never Gonna Stop” still get regular play.

WaterdeepEnter the Worship Circle (1999)

Low-key sitting on couches in a living room styled acoustic worship.

Maranatha SingersThe Love of An Awesome God (1988)

I grew up listening to the Maranatha Singers due to my parents and this is the one I still remember most.

Derrick HaddonLost & Found (2002)

Gospel/R&B collide in the best way possible. “The Joy Of The Lord” and “Stand Still” get me singling along every time.

VineyardChange My Heart (1996)

Chock-full of classic tunes like the title track, “Holy And Anointed One,” “More Love, More Power,” “Light The Fire Again” and more.

PassionBetter Is One Day (1999)

So many classic songs. Although I would eventually lose interest in this collective later on, I truly enjoyed their first decade of music and artists.

HillsongShout To The Lord (1996)

The world-wide popularity of the title track is the strongest song overall, but there are several other solid tunes like “Let the Peace of God Reign” and “Power of Your Love.”

Michael W. SmithWorship (2001)

Maybe it’s responsible for the glut of worship albums that came after it…maybe it’s to fault for the narrowing of the industry…maybe. Regardless, it’s a strong covers album of the live variety.

Third DayOfferings (2000)

Was it this one, or MWS’s Worship that turned record executive heads to move the entire industry this way? Either way, Third Day had long had vertically-centered tunes on their 90s albums so it feels like a more natural progression from their southern rock.

Phil WickhamCannons (2007)

Much like pals Shane & Shane I worn out his catalogue in the 00s. This is his strongest overall album in my opinion. “True Love” still gets to me and there’s several other high quality tunes.

SonicfloodSelf-Titled (1999)

I have a love-hate relationship with this album. I’ve decided to just embrace my love side and get over it. Although it’s hard to un-hear the Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Kinda Life” when listening to biggest hit “I Want To Know You.” “Carried Away” is probably my favorite overall tune.

My EpicBehold (2013)

A post-hardcore band releases a worship-centric album full of ambiance and wonder? Indeed, and it’s a top album of the teens coming in at #45 on this list: 100 Best Albums of the 2010s

Beautiful EulogyWorthy (2017)

Theologically rich hip-hop.

Shane & ShanePages (2007)

In the 00s this duo would have been in my top 10 most listened to without question. This is what I think is their best album. Passionate tenor, gorgeous harmonies, scripture based lyrics.

Various Artists Exodus (1998)

This is such a great worship complication. “My Will,”, “Brighten My Heart,” “Agnus Dei”, “Salvation Belongs To Our God,” and “Draw Me Close” make up my favorites.

CeCe WinansAlone in His Presence (1995)

Smooth gospel that’s tender and timeless.

PetraPetra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1989)

Early adopters, legacy band Petra adds a worship bent to their classic rock sensibilities. Highly important and influential.

Matt Redman 10,000 Reasons (2011)

Redman’s best? Most complete? My favorite anyway.

DeliriousKing of Fools (1998)

“I wanna go deeper/but I don’t know how to swim…” this is clearly U2 influenced in all the right ways.

Andrae CrouchFinally (1982)

Industry icon. Really you could pick any of his albums and I’d be fine with it. Very influential artist and a must in any conversation about greatest of the genre.

The Stats:

Albums Released between 1969-89: 3

Albums released between 1990-1999: 9

Albums Released between 2000-2009: 11

Albums Released between 2010-2019: 10

How about you, what are your favorite worship albums?

Lastly, here’s a running playlist of my favorite worship tunes across the years:

Happy listening! – Josh