Why ask the question?
In April, 2014, I presented a 90-minute seminar as part of doctoral work at Durham University (England) on the place of sadness in contemporary praise and worship. You can read the paper that accompanied the presentation on academia.edu here. Needless to say, my project includes many facets of research on this topic.

One aspect is to explore musical modes of contemporary praise and worship songs. Below is a chart on the relevant emotion of a particular musical structure. I have highlighted the lines that mention sadness.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 12.38.33 PM

What list of songs is being used?
Dr. Lester Ruth at Duke University began compiling a list of songs in 1994 that have appeared on the US Top 25 lists published by CCLI twice a year. As of February, 2014, Ruth has identified 104 unique songs that have been on the US Top 25 lists in the past 25 years (since CCLI began publishing such lists in 1989).

What does it mean?
We must be careful in saying too much about what this means. Not all “laments” are in minor keys, and not all songs in minor keys are “laments”. A more detailed analysis of words and themes is necessary. (Dr. Lester Ruth has done an analysis of verbs; I will mention his findings in my project but not here for now.)

“Minor Motif Scale”

mm 1: verse or chorus begins or ends with minor chord

mm 2: verse and chorus begin or end with minor chord

mm 3: verse or chorus begins and ends with minor chord

mm 4: verse and chorus begin and end with minor chord


1 Above All Major
2 Ah Lord God Major
3 All Hail King Jesus Major
4 Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) Major
5 Arise and Sing Major
6 As the Deer mm 1

(chorus begins w minor)

7 Awesome God mm 3

(verse begins and ends with minor; chorus ends with minor)

8 Beautiful One Major
9 Because He Lives Major
10 Better Is One Day Major
11 Bind Us Together Major
12 Bless His Holy Name Major
13 Blessed Be Your Name Major
14 Breathe Major
15 Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate Major
16 Change My Heart, Oh God Major
17 Come, Now Is the Time to Worship Major
18 Cornerstone Major
19 Days of Elijah Major
20 Draw Me Close Major
21 Emmanuel Major


Everlasting God


23 Father I Adore You Major
24 Forever Major
25 Forever Reign Major
26 Friend of God Major
27 From the Inside Out minor
28 Give Thanks Major
29 Glorify Thy Name Major
30 Glory to God Forever Major
31 God of Wonders Major
32 Great Is the Lord Major
33 Hallelujah Major
34 Happy Day Major
35 He Has Made Me Glad Major
36 He Is Exalted Major
37 The Heart of Worship Major
38 Here I Am to Worship Major
39 His Name Is Wonderful Major
40 Holy Ground Major
41 Holy Is The Lord Major
42 Hosanna mm 1

(verse begins with a minor chord)

43 Hosanna (Praise is Rising) Major
44 How Can We Name a Love Major
45 How Great Is Our God Major


How Great Thou Art


47 How He Loves Major
48 How Majestic Is Your Name Major
49 I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever Major
50 I Exalt Thee Major
51 I Give You My Heart Major
52 I Love You, Lord Major
53 I Stand in Awe Major
54 I Will Call Upon the Lord Major
55 I Worship You Almighty God Major
56 In Christ Alone Major
57 In Moments Like These Major
58 Indescribable mm 1

(verse begins with a minor chord)

59 Jesus, Name Above All Names Major
60 Jesus Messiah ? Major
61 Joy to the World Major
62 Let There Be Glory and Honor and Praises Major
63 Lord Be Glorified Major
64 Lord I Lift Your Name on High Major
65 Lord Reign In Me Major
66 Majesty Major


Mighty to Save


68 More Precious Than Silver Major
69 My Life Is In You, Lord Major
70 O How He Loves You Major
71 One Thing Remains mm 1

(chorus begins with a minor chord)

72 Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord Major
73 Open Our Eyes Lord Major
74 Our God mm 2

(verse and chorus begin with a minor chord)

75 Our God Reigns Major
76 Praise the Name of Jesus Major
77 Revelation Song Major
78 Sanctuary Major
79 Seek Ye First Major
80 Shine, Jesus, Shine Major
81 Shout to the Lord Major
82 The Stand Major
83 Surely the Presence of the Lord Major
84 There’s Something About That Name Major
85 This Is the Day Major
86 Thou Art Worthy Major
87 Thy Lovingkindness Major
88 Trading My Sorrows Major
89 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus Major
90 We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise Major
91 We Fall Down Major
92 We Have Come Into His House Major
93 We Will Glorify Major
94 What a Mighty God We Serve Major
95 When I Look Into Your Holiness Major
96 Whom Shall I Fear God of Angel Armies? mm 1

(chorus begins with a minor chord)

97 The Wonderful Cross Major
98 You Are My All In All Major
99 You Are My King Major
100 You’re Worthy of My Praise Major


Your Grace Is Enough



Your Love Never Fails



Your Name



10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)


9 thoughts on “How Many Minor Keys Are We Singing In?

  1. I know, right? That means that after the year of the first published “Top 25” (1989), an average of a little more than 3 a year have been added. That’s it!! (Grateful to have one of em!)


  2. I always prefer songs in minor keys…usually at my church we play Nothing But the Blood of Jesus in Bm…and another one of my favorite songs which may not be a top chart is You have opened my mouth by Red Letter from Mars Hill church, that song is simply filled with deep words and beautiful emotion!


  3. I LOVE this conversation Glenn! I’ll try to look through the list…after Easter 🙂
    Can I throw another iron on the fire? NONE of these songs swing (at least I didn’t see any when scanning the list). We just sang Audrey Assad’s “Good To Me” as an offertory last week. Amazing song, but it felt strangely out of place, in a good way.


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