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How Many Minor Keys Are We Singing In?

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 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

_________________________1Above AllMajor2Ah Lord GodMajor3All Hail King JesusMajor4Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)Major5Arise and SingMajor6As the Deermm 1

(chorus begins w minor)7Awesome Godmm 3

(verse begins and ends with minor; chorus ends with minor)8Beautiful OneMajor9Because He LivesMajor10Better Is One DayMajor11Bind Us TogetherMajor12Bless His Holy NameMajor13Blessed Be Your NameMajor14BreatheMajor15Celebrate Jesus, CelebrateMajor16Change My Heart, Oh GodMajor17Come, Now Is the Time to WorshipMajor18CornerstoneMajor19Days of ElijahMajor20Draw Me CloseMajor21EmmanuelMajor


Everlasting God

Major23Father I Adore YouMajor24ForeverMajor25Forever ReignMajor26Friend of GodMajor27From the Inside Outminor28Give ThanksMajor29Glorify Thy NameMajor30Glory to God ForeverMajor31God of WondersMajor32Great Is the LordMajor33HallelujahMajor34Happy DayMajor35He Has Made Me GladMajor36He Is ExaltedMajor37The Heart of WorshipMajor38Here I Am to WorshipMajor39His Name Is WonderfulMajor40Holy GroundMajor41Holy Is The LordMajor42Hosannamm 1

(verse begins with a minor chord)43Hosanna (Praise is Rising)Major44How Can We Name a LoveMajor45How Great Is Our GodMajor


How Great Thou Art

Major47How He LovesMajor48How Majestic Is Your NameMajor49I Could Sing Of Your Love ForeverMajor50I Exalt TheeMajor51I Give You My HeartMajor52I Love You, LordMajor53I Stand in AweMajor54I Will Call Upon the LordMajor55I Worship You Almighty GodMajor56In Christ AloneMajor57In Moments Like TheseMajor58Indescribablemm 1

(verse begins with a minor chord)59Jesus, Name Above All NamesMajor60Jesus Messiah ?Major61Joy to the WorldMajor62Let There Be Glory and Honor and PraisesMajor63Lord Be GlorifiedMajor64Lord I Lift Your Name on HighMajor65Lord Reign In MeMajor66MajestyMajor


Mighty to Save

Major68More Precious Than SilverMajor69My Life Is In You, LordMajor70O How He Loves YouMajor71One Thing Remainsmm 1

(chorus begins with a minor chord)72Open the Eyes of My Heart, LordMajor73Open Our Eyes LordMajor74Our Godmm 2

(verse and chorus begin with a minor chord)75Our God ReignsMajor76Praise the Name of JesusMajor77Revelation SongMajor78SanctuaryMajor79Seek Ye FirstMajor80Shine, Jesus, ShineMajor81Shout to the LordMajor82The StandMajor83Surely the Presence of the LordMajor84There’s Something About That NameMajor85This Is the DayMajor86Thou Art WorthyMajor87Thy LovingkindnessMajor88Trading My SorrowsMajor89Turn Your Eyes Upon JesusMajor90We Bring the Sacrifice of PraiseMajor91We Fall DownMajor92We Have Come Into His HouseMajor93We Will GlorifyMajor94What a Mighty God We ServeMajor95When I Look Into Your HolinessMajor96Whom Shall I Fear God of Angel Armies?mm 1

(chorus begins with a minor chord)97The Wonderful CrossMajor98You Are My All In AllMajor99You Are My KingMajor100You’re Worthy of My PraiseMajor


Your Grace Is Enough



Your Love Never Fails



Your Name



10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)


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