There was a time when all you could hear in a church during a worship service were traditional, old hymns. So, it wasn’t at all surprising that the majority of believers welcomed modern Christian music. Now, singers like Lauren Daigle and Chris Tomlin are very popular among the Christian audience.
But still, these old songs seem to be timeless. And no matter how much people seem to force a modern vibe on the song service, traditional hymns will always have a place in every believer’s heart. So, let’s check out some of the best old hymns you can add to your playlist.
1. Amazing Grace
You don’t have to be a Christian or even a believer in God, for that matter, to have heard about a song called Amazing Grace. This hymn is all over the tv shows and movies — Greenland, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Spy Hard, and Bad Boys Forever, to name just a few.
The man who wrote this masterpiece, John Newton, was once involved in a slave trade across the Atlantic. But then, the love of God has changed his heart. Eventually, Newton became a preacher and decided to put his experience into words and create this moving hymn in 1779.
Amazing Grace is so beloved because the melody is incredibly soothing. This song feels like a warm embrace for someone in pain or someone crushed by sin and sorrow. And the thing that makes it even more appealing is the lyrics. The words speak about the powerful grace of God that changes people’s hearts the moment they accept it.
There are countless interpretations and versions of this song, which speaks of its popularity. But if you want to enjoy the more traditional version, follow this link. And for those of you with a modern taste, check out Chris Tomplin’s interpretation of the hymn Amazing Grace.
2. How Great Thou Art
This 1885 hymn is probably one of the best songs ever written to express the admiration people feel when they think about the greatness of God. It is the hymn most Christians turn to when they want to praise the Lord as the Creator and the Almighty.
But did you know that How Great Thou Art was originally written in Swedish? After Carl Bogerg first wrote the lyrics, it quickly became popular throughout Europe before Stuart Hine translated it into English.
In any case, the powerful words leave you humble and in awe of God and everything He created. Moreover, do not be surprised if you suddenly feel goosebumps when you hear the whole congregation singing the chorus, “Then sings my soul….”
3. It Is Well With My Soul
Another one of the invaluable old hymns is It Is Well With My Soul. If you are going through a difficult period in life, there’s no better way to express your trust in God than to sing along to this sad and beautiful Christian hymn.
The man who composed it, Horatio Spafford, had just lost his four daughters at sea when the ship they were on hit another vessel. And to make things even worse, he was facing financial ruin at the time. Spafford began composing this timeless piece after sailing over the same place where his daughters died, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
The music is really heartbreaking and emotional, but the true beauty of this song lies in the lyrics. The hymn It Is Well With My Soul expresses complete faith and utter surrender to God. Even if things in life don’t go the way you planned, you know that God is in control and that He cares.
4. Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy is another awe-inspiring song worthy of the King Himself. In fact, there are a few songs that can describe God’s incredible nature and magnitude as this traditional Christian hymn. The iconic anthem praises God as the only entity in the entire universe that deserves our worship.
Reginal Heiber wrote the hymn in 1826, and since then, churches all over the world sing it to express the love, power, and grace of their Lord.
Listen to Audrey Assad’s touching interpretation of this famous song.
5. Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go
BB McKinney wrote this hymn in 1930 to celebrate a life of complete surrender to the Lord. Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go speaks about how important it is to trust God and His plan for your life. Just as Abraham had the utmost faith in God who invited him on the journey to the unknown, this song invites you to trust and follow your God.
But as is the case with many deep and moving old hymns, this song also has a sad backstory. McKinney was inspired to compose this piece when a missionary from Brazil told him how heartbroken he felt that he would never return to his homeland due to some health issues. To McKinney’s question: What will you do?, the missionary answered: Wherever He leads, I’ll go.
And thus the famous song was born.
Alan Jackson did one of the best and most famous versions of this song. Enjoy!
6. Jesus Paid It All
One of the core Christian beliefs is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many people, the conversion point is when they learn that Jesus paid the price for their sins on the Cross. For this reason, a number of old hymns celebrate Christ for the sacrifice He was willing to do.
Jesus Paid It All is a timeless song that has been giving Christians much-needed hope and joy for over a century. Elvina Hall, the author of the hymn, was just an ordinary person sitting in a church one day. Suddenly, she felt inspired to create a song and celebrate her Saviour. And that is how one of the most popular old hymns came to be.
There are so many versions of this song, so you’ll surely find the one that fits your taste. Choose the incredible Fernando Ortega for a peaceful, traditional interpretation of Jesus Paid It All. However, if you wish for a version that has a modern twist to it, you’ll probably enjoy Kristian Stanfill’s take on this hymn.
7. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Another one of the old hymns to add to your playlist is Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm wrote it in 1923 to honor God’s faithfulness in his life. So, this hymn is an expression of gratitude, but it also has a personal, vulnerable feel to it.
The main message is that God is faithful to those who love Him. And although you might not see it all the time, He is always working for your benefit.
The melody is both calming and uplifting. It starts slow and peaceful but soon takes you on a journey where lyrics and music make you realize how blessed you are every day.
This song had become popular again in recent years among the younger audience thanks to Jordan Smith, who sang it at the Voice singing competition. But for your private playlist, check out this version gifted to us by Austin Stone Worship.
8. What A Friend We Have In Jesus
A more upbeat and cheerful hymn you might also like is What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Joseph M. Scriven wrote the words in 1855, while Charles Converse composed the melody in 1868.
This song will fill you with pure hope and joy as soon as you start listening to it. The lyrics speak directly to those who struggle with worry and anxiety. You have an almighty God behind your back who wants to take the struggles and the burden away from you. All you have to do is take it to the Lord in prayer!
Celtic Worship and Steph Macleod somehow managed to make this hymn even more positive and lively in this amazing interpretation. But, for those of you who prefer an acoustic cover, this version will fill you with heavenly harmony.
9. Nearer, My God, To Thee
The last one on our list of old hymns is Nearer, My God, To Thee.
Most non-Christians know this hymn from the famous movie Titanic. While the ship is sinking, an old couple is lying on the bed together and waiting for death to come. The orchestra is playing this song in the background. What a powerful and heartbreaking scene!
And the director sure knew what he was doing. This song speaks about the depth of faith and true hope that those who believe in Jesus Christ experience even when facing certain death. Yes, death is terrible and tragic beyond words. But if you believe in everything Christ has promised, death just means you are coming back to the One who created you.
Sarah Flower Adams wrote this glorious hymn in 1841, inspired by Jacob’s dream — a story from the book of Genesis 28:11-19.
Take a moment to relish in the sheer beauty and tranquillity of André Rieu’s performance of the Nearer, my God, to thee. Another great version that has a more church feel to it is the one by Johan Luis Estevez.