What are the ten best-selling black gospel songs of all time? According to “Uncloudy Days: the Gospel Music Encyclopedia”, the one song at the top of the list is “Oh Happy Day,” released by The Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969. The other nine are up for debate, depending on how you define black gospel music.
The definition of black gospel varies greatly according to culture and society, but the common theme is worship and praise to God. With the rhythm and beat of urban contemporary music, black gospel expresses Christianity in a way no other music can.
In 2006, Black Gospel Radio published a list of ten black gospel songs that are “fifteen years old and still strong.” For those who enjoy upbeat and uplifting music, here are ten of the most popular black gospel songs around.
- “Jesus is My Rock,” by Rev. Gerald Thompson and the Tennessee Full Gospel Baptist Church Mass Choir. Everyone goes through times of turmoil, and this song steadies the Christian with lyrics like, “Jesus is my rock, my rock, my sword and shield.”
- “So Satisfied,” by Luther Barnes and the Red Budd Gospel Choir. “I am so satisfied with my Savior. He means more to me than anything, anything that this world could ever offer.” What Christian could ask for anything more?
- “For Every Mountain,” by Kurt Carr. This powerful song speaks words of praise and thanksgiving to God: “For every mountain you’ve brought me over. For every trial you’ve seen me through. For every blessing, hallelujah; for this I give You praise.”
- “Safe in His Arms,” by Milton Brunson and the Thomson Community Singers. Another expression of praise, this black gospel song offers up a helping of comfort and safety: “When the storms of life are raging and the billows roll, I’m glad He shall hide me safe in His arms.”
- “Fully Committed,” by Kingdom. “Jesus, you’re all that I need. And I could never repay what you did just for me. But the least I can do…I give my life, fully committed to You.” The Christian life is one of complete surrender, as expressed by this song’s lyrics.
- “Call Him Up,” by Keith Pringle and the Pentecostal Community Choir. This black gospel song is reminiscent of a biblical promise from the book of Matthew. “If you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; call Him up and tell Him what you want,” the song says. “Ask and it will be given to you,” says Matthew.
- “You Brought the Sunshine,” by the Clark Sisters. “You brought the sunshine in my life. Threw out the lifeline to save my life.” The gospel message is about the burden of sin, the light of salvation, and eternal destination and fellowship with God. This song expresses gratitude to God for salvation through Jesus.
- “Running Back to You,” by Commissioned. This black gospel song speaks to those who are brokenhearted and find themselves weary of life. “Your arms are opened wide. And I don’t have to cry no more. You’re standing there for me. And I am running back to You.”
- “Tomorrow,” by the Winans. This song provides a wake-up call—life is short and now is the time to make a choice for God. “Who promised you tomorrow? Better choose the Lord today. For tomorrow very well might be today.”
- “Lord Help Me to Hold Out,” by Rev. James Cleveland. “Lord, help me to hold out. Until my change come.” Another cry to God, this song rounds out the best of the black gospel songs—time-tested, upbeat, uplifting songs with real staying power.