Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.
Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use (http://planningcenteronline.com/) tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.
Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.
1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue
2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin
3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong
4. Cornerstone - Hillsong
Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Christopher Idle's 20th Century hymn Yes Finished The Messiah Dies and Bernard of Clairvaux's medieval O Sacred Head.
We mix older hymns and newer songs together. Songs are picked by our senior minister and myself in collaboration with our five band leaders and music coordinator - a team of 3 men and 5 women, seeking to serve the church with songs that will allow them to express their faith and to form their hearts.
We aim to introduce about 1 new song a month - some of which 'take' better than others. Our recent new song list looks like this...
December 2016 - When my heart is torn asunder by Phil Wickham
January 2017 - Come Ye Sinners - an old hymn reworked by the Norton Hall Band.
Febuary 2017 - This I believe - the apostles creed set to music at the bidding of Michael Jenson by Hillsong
March 2017 - Come behold the wondrous mystery
April 2017 - Where O Grave, a new song from the British Co-mission church group in London
May 2017 - Love came down by Ben Cantelon
June 2017 - You died for me - Sam Cox's meditation on the cross
We try to pick diverse songs and only new songs that add something to our choices, to give a good balance of musical styles, clear and understandable theology and themes, teaching songs, laments, celebrations, reflections, confessions... Our choices, as well as our musicians, take their place to serve the gathered congregation in singing.
We covers a complete age range though I guess put our average age is a little under 30 years old, around 80% British, with 20% international students and scholars - largely from China and Malaysia. Most people in the room are believers, many of them having moved into the area having come to faith elsewhere, though some have come to faith locally. We find there are always some guests in the room who are exploring faith. Those who are believers bring a wide range of songs they know, and those from other cultures or who are just exploring faith may know very few songs. Thankfully the best church music is necessarily written to be easy to understand and learn, to sing together and to hear others singing.
See also Olly Knight's Word Alive 2017 list.