Worship Songs for the Persecuted Church

I received this question from a Worship Matters reader:

We’re having a missions conference in our church in Northern Ireland towards the end of November. The theme is the persecuted church. Have you any songs or sources you could recommend on this theme? I am keen to find songs that allow us to pray for and stand with our brothers and sisters and allow us to fulfill the command of Hebrews 13:3 ‘Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.’

Here are a few that came to mind:

A Mighty Fortress is Our God – “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still.”

How Long, by Stuart Townend – a great song that expresses grief over the present situation of evil in the world and our desire to see his “glory light the skies.”

Let Your Kingdom Come, a song I wrote – contains the line “by grace we’ll preach your Gospel till our dying breath.”

The Church’s One Foundation – check out the new tune by Brian Moss at the Indelible Grace site .

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name – vs. 2 in the Trinity Hymnal starts, “Crown him, ye martyrs of your God, who from his altar call.”

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord, by Timothy Dwight – A song that expresses our love for the church of Christ, and includes in vs. 5: “Jesus, thou Friend divine, our Savior and our King, thy hand from ev’ry snare and foe shall great deliv’rance bring.

High Above All Things, by Mark Altrogge – a song that confesses our self-focus as it stirs up a passion to see Christ’s name exalted in all nations

If you’re aware of others, please leave a comment, including a link to the lyrics/music if possible.

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28 Responses to Worship Songs for the Persecuted Church

  1. Trillia October 26, 2007 at 10:11 PM #

    Two songs came to mind (the links are just what I found- Bob may be able to provide better ones!)

    1) Chris Tomlin, “Awesome is the Lord Most High”

    some lyrics

    Chorus and 1 verse
    “Raise your hands, all you nations
    Shout to God all creation
    How awesome is the Lord Most High

    Where You send us, God we will go
    You’re the answer, we want the world to know
    We will trust You when You call our name
    Where You lead us, we’ll follow all the way”

    Link http://www.hughchou.org/ccm/ct-stm.html.

    2) Passion version of “Sing to the King”
    Verse 1 and part of chorus

    “Sing to the King Who is coming to reign
    Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain
    Life and salvation His empire shall bring
    And joy to the nations when Jesus is King

    Come, let us sing a song
    A song declaring that we belong to Jesus
    He is all we need…”

    Link for sheet music- http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0053783
    Link to hear the song- http://play.rhapsody.com/passionworshipband/sacredrevolution/singtotheking

    Hope this helps! I pray God answers your prayers for the persecuted church and that you missions conference attendees would be filled with faith.

  2. beth October 27, 2007 at 3:34 AM #

    thank you for this post.
    such encouraging truths.

    Whatever My God Ordains is Right
    “Whatever my God ordains is right
    Though now this cup in drinking
    Bitter it seems to my faint heart
    I take it all unshrinking
    My God is true, each morn anew
    Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
    And pain and sorrow shall depart”
    (Original words by Samuel Rodigast, 1676
    Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1863
    alternate words by Mark Altrogge)

    How Firm A Foundation
    “Fear not I am with you
    Oh be not dismayed
    For I am your God
    And will still give you aid
    I’ll strengthen you help you
    And cause you to stand
    Upheld by My righteous
    Omnipotent hand”
    (Lyrics by K Rippon’s Hymns)

    Give to the Winds Thy Fears (God Will Lift up Your Head)
    “Through waves and clouds and storms
    He gently clears the way
    Wait because in His time, so shall this night
    Soon end in joy”
    (Words by Paul Gerhardt, translated by John Wesley
    alt. lyrics by Jars of Clay)

  3. Michael Cheng October 27, 2007 at 10:54 AM #

    Issac Watts’ words to Am I a soldier of the cross? is very convicting and inspiring. The words are:

    Am I a soldier of the cross,
    A follower of the Lamb?
    And shall I fear to own His cause
    Or blush to speak His name?

    Must I be carried to the skies
    On flowery beds of ease?
    While others fought to win the prize,
    And sailed through bloody seas?

    Are there no foes for me to face?
    Must I not stem the flood?
    Is this vile world a friend to grace,
    To help me on to God?

    Sure I must fight, if I would reign
    Increase my courage, Lord!
    I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
    Supported by Thy word.

    Thy saints, in all this glorious war,
    Shall conquer, though they die;
    They view the triumph from afar,
    And seize it with their eye.

    When that illustrious day shall rise,
    And all Thy armies shine
    In robes of victory through the skies,
    The glory shall be Thine.

    I wrote new music to these words (not for congregational singing) and would think there would be others as well. If you want to hear mine, let me know.

  4. Matthew Smith October 27, 2007 at 11:56 AM #

    I led this one at a missionary conference in Thailand, where I got to hear some powerful stories of missionaries trusting God amidst persecution. It changed the way I think of this hymn forever.

    “His Love Can Never Fail” iTunes, CD

    1. I do not ask to see the way
    My feet will have to tread;
    But only that my soul may feed
    Upon the living Bread.
    ‘Tis better far that I should walk
    By faith close to His side;
    I may not know the way I go, But oh, I know my Guide.

    His love can never fail, His love can never fail,
    My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail
    My soul is satisfied to know His love can never fail

    2. And if my feet would go astray,
    They cannot, for I know
    That Jesus guides my falt’ring steps,
    As joyfully I go.
    And tho’ I may not see His face,
    My faith is strong and clear,
    That in each hour of sore distress
    My Savior will be near.

    3. I will not fear, tho’ darkness come
    Abroad o’er all the land,
    If I may only feel the touch
    Of His own loving hand.
    And tho’ I tremble when I think
    How weak I am, and frail,
    My soul is satisfied to know
    His love can never fail.

    ©2004 Christopher Miner Music

  5. Lindele October 27, 2007 at 12:44 PM #

    Eric Schumacher has a couple of hymns he wrote for the persecuted church. They are at doxologue.blogspot.com/2006/03/neglected-song-themes-persecuted.html
    and scripturealone.blogspot.com/2005/11/for-your-sake-all-day-long-hymn-for.html

  6. Nick Coller October 27, 2007 at 10:58 PM #

    What about “He Reigns” by the Newsboys?

    Verse 1:
    It’s the song of the redeemed
    Rising from the African plain
    It’s the song of the forgiven
    Drowning out the Amazon rain
    The song of Asian believers
    Filled with God’s holy fire
    It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
    A love song born of a grateful choir

    Chorus:
    It’s all God’s children singing
    Glory, glory, hallelujah
    He reigns, He reigns
    It’s all God’s children singing
    Glory, glory, hallelujah
    He reigns, He reigns

    Verse 2:
    Let it rise above the four winds
    Caught up in the heavenly sound
    Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
    To the faithful gathered underground
    Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
    Some were meant to persist
    Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
    None rings truer than this

    Verse 3:
    And all the powers of darkness
    Tremble at what they’ve just heard
    ‘Cause all the powers of darkness
    Can’t drown out a single word

  7. Desiree October 28, 2007 at 10:14 AM #

    “For All the Saints” is an old, traditional hymn that is about missionaries, etc.
    http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/f/a/fallthes.htm
    I really love the Matthew Smith song listed above as well!

  8. penny October 28, 2007 at 11:04 AM #

    Louise Fellingham has written a lovely song called “God of Mercy (Prayer Song). The words are

    God of mercy, hear our cry, turn Your hand today
    Bring relief from their pain, be their comfort

    And ev’ry day they’re given breath, give them strength to live
    and as their weary bodies fail, fighting is over
    flesh gives way
    Be thier (Light/star) to guide them home

    God of mercy hear our cry, heal their souls today
    Give them peace from their fear, be their hope,Lord

    And ev’ry day…..

    Sometime I don’t know what to ask for
    Sometime I don’t know what to say
    But I know that You are watching over them
    Sometimes id don’t know what to pray for
    Sometimes I don’t know how to give
    But I know that You are watching over them
    And their life is not in vain

    repeat Verse 1 to “guide them home”

    The music is available from “Spring Harvest 2007″ or from Thankyou Music worshiptogether.com songs at tym@kingsway.co.uk

    Penny

  9. matt blick October 28, 2007 at 4:18 PM #

    I recently wrote a song that’s a prayer asking Jesus to overcome persecution and his peoples sin & weakness and build his church. Here’s the 2nd verse and chorus

    Lord, you build your church,
    though trails and temptations abound
    Afflicted & hated throughout the world
    yet no law, no prison can chain your word
    Still you build your church
    giving us courage to speak
    Hearing the threats of the powerful
    you answer with healing & miracles
    So today, in faith we pray Jesus…

    Build your church as we cross every border
    Build your church as we tell every tribe
    Build your church and the gates of death will not triumph
    And the story will not be silenced
    Even if it costs our lives
    Spread your fame across the earth,
    Jesus, build your church

    © Matt Blick. Grace Church Nottingham 2007

    If you think it’s something you might be able to use please email me and i’ll send you an mp3 and sheet music.

  10. Ryan James October 29, 2007 at 3:49 AM #

    Two songs came quickly to mind:

    #1
    In the Hour of Trial

    In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me,
    Lest by base denial I depart from Thee.
    When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
    Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.

    With forbidden pleasures would this vain world charm,
    Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
    Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane,
    Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.

    Should Thy mercy send me sorrow, toil and woe,
    Or should pain attend me on my path below,
    Grant that I may never fail Thy hand to see;
    Grant that I may ever cast my care on Thee.

    When my last hour cometh, fraught with strife and pain,
    When my dust returneth to the dust again,
    On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
    Jesus, take me, dying, to eternal life.

    #2
    Jesus, I my cross have taken

    Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
    Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
    Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
    Yet how rich is my condition! God and Heaven are still mine own.

    Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too.
    Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
    And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
    Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.

    Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
    In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
    I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
    Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.

    Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast.
    Life with trials hard may press me; heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
    Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me while Thy love is left to me;
    Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.

    Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
    Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
    Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
    What a Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

    Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
    Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
    Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
    Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

  11. Rich Tuttle October 29, 2007 at 8:58 AM #

    Faith of our Fathers – “Faith of our Fathers living still, in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword…”

    “You Never Let Go” – more of a song of inspiration during times of dispar (persecution) The same goes for “Blessed Be Your Name” both by Matt Redman

    Tim Hughes has a song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” which speaks of God’s sovereignty over our afflictions – “when I walk through fire//I will not be burned//when the waves come crashing round me//still I know with all my heart//He’s got the whole world in his hands…”

    Also Jars of Clay wrote a song specifically for the persecuted church called “This Road” This may not be (but could be) a great congreational song but it is definately worth a listen.

    I think it is great that your theme is the Persecuted Church. You might want to (if you havn’t already) look into Voice of the Martyrs website persecution.com and International Christian Concern at persecution.org. I hope that these help

  12. Wally Joiner October 29, 2007 at 11:59 AM #

    Here is one that David wrote, I just did the music… http://www.harpandlyre.com/audio/Psalm13.mp3 sung verbatim from the NASB.

    This Psalm relates to several of the most recent topics posted here: 1-The Psalms, 2-Singing confessional songs that reveal the real… the agony of faith, the struggle to believe when the devil whispers to us in our dark providences, “So, where is your God? I thought you needed Him now? Curse God and die!” This Psalm, like so many, shows us the complaint of weakened faith appended with God-vindicating resolutions to trust Him, come what may, though we must “fly by instrument” through the darkness of the storm,

    3-It teaches us what the Puritans called, the “argument of prayer, that is, it present to God the “reasons” that He should reply to our cry in distress, which strangely, ultimately, persuades us not God… the arguments are the reasons that we can reasonably believe that God will answer our prayer, changing a cry of superstition into a prayer of faith, note, “Consider and answer me… (why? here comes the argument)… 1) lest I sleep the sleep of death (one less God-glorifier on the planet), 2) lest my enemy say, ‘I have overcome him (which is to mock God publicly that He has no power to save us from the wicked), 3) But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness (i.e., I have burned my bridges to other ‘saviors… You are my only hope, O Father!”… God cannot be deaf to such a person’s cry, and 4) “I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me” (i.e., though at the time this Psalm was penned, God had not yet dealt ‘bountifully’ with the Psalmist in regard to deliverance from this particular difficulty, YET he vows to declare the future praises of a God who most certainly will delivered him… how can God not be moved by such Godward abandon? Answer: He cannot, and this rumination empowers faith)

    …and the 4th topic-Sin and Sunday, ultimately, though we live today as the wicked man’s well-wisher, if they persist they will be destroyed, God will triumph over the wicked (Psalm 49), and all the more quickly if they persist in afflicting and persecuting the “apple of God’s eye”… He will not sit on His hands while blaspheming, Jesus-mocking sons of Cain assault His bride.

    Expectantly!
    Wally

  13. Ken October 30, 2007 at 1:53 PM #

    O Church Arise” by Getty/Townend could also work well.

  14. Alistair Hamill October 31, 2007 at 5:56 AM #

    Thnaks to everyone who has replied with these suggestions. It’s very encouraging to me that you’ve all taken the time to post. A few things strike me about the suggestions for songs.

    i. Look how many of them are older hymns! Yet another reminder (if one were needed) of the breadth of content that Christians of previous generations were singing about and of the challenge to modern songwriters continually to be pushing back the boundaries of the subject matter we’re writing about.
    ii. Although we have seen an increase in songs of lament written in recent years, still I’m struck by how many of them focus on our trials in the west. I’m encouraged by some of the songs listed (and indeed written by some of you who have posted!) which allow us to do what Hebrews 13:3 says: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison
    with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are
    in the body. Am I alone in feeling slightly uncomfortable in singing lines like ‘We’ve been through fire/we’ve been through rain’ (from Men of Faith) when I think of my brothers and sisters who have truly experienced persecution in the world today? Let’s keep writing songs that are global in nature, remembering the church of God through all nations and allowing us to stand with and pray for the members of our body.

    I am in the middle of trying to write a song for our conference. I’ll post it on here when it’s finished (probably around the middle of November).

    In closing, let me quote the words of one hymn about persecution that I have come across while preparing for our conference. This is taken from Brother Yun’s book, The Heavenly Man. He writes of a time when he and his wife were visiting some believers in the North of China. As they travelled on the bus, they passed wanted posters with Brother Yun’s face on them. When they met with the group of Christians in Henan, they were ‘led by the Spirit to sing a powerful song called Martyrs for the Lord:

    From the time the church was birthed on the day of Pentecost,
    The followers of the Lord have willingly sacrificed themselves,
    Tens of thousands have died that the gospel might prosper
    As such they have obtained the crown of life

    CHORUS:
    To be a martyr for the Lord, to be a martyr for the Lord
    I am willing to die gloriously for the Lord

    (the song continues telling the story of various martyrs for 5 more verses).

    Yun writes at the end, ‘When we finished singing the whole meeting place was shaken. There was the sound of great weeping. I stood up to speak about suffering for the Lord. The Holy Spirit fell upon us and we earnestly interceded for our nation. We rededicated ourselves to fight for the Lord.’ (The Heavenly Man, p79-80)

    Think for a moment what reaction you would get if you tried using these words next Sunday morning in church. What does that tell us about our attitude to suffering in the church in the west?

    May the faith of our brothers and sisters continue to inspire and challenge us for the glory of His Name,

    Alistair

  15. Greg Yoder October 31, 2007 at 1:08 PM #

    Mission Network News and Discovery House music just completed a project called ‘Better Than Life – Today’s Stories of Faith’ featuring Scott Krippayne, Shannon Wexelberg and Charles Billingsley. It features contemporary songs of real stories of believers who are being persecuted for their faith, but also songs challenging us to share our faith no matter what the cost. You can find more information at http://www.dhp.org/btl

  16. Rich Tuttle November 1, 2007 at 7:40 AM #

    “Am I alone in feeling slightly uncomfortable in singing lines like ‘We’ve been through fire/we’ve been through rain’ (from Men of Faith) when I think of my brothers and sisters who have truly experienced persecution in the world today?”

    I don’t think you’re alone in feeling this way and I definately think that if songs are to be sung in the local church that they should be sung in the context of your local church. For instance, if your church has not been through “fire and rain” then perhaps a global context is necessary for them to see before it is sung, but in the case of my church, we had a music pastor who turned out to be a pedophile and it made big news. The local stations hounded the church and our senior pastor to the point of his resignation. We really felt as if we were going though “fire and rain” and so that was a song I chose to use for our service. But I say this not to disagree with you but to emphasise your point. I agree with you 100%. I am excited for you and your conference and actually wish I could be there. May God bless you.

    Rich

  17. Ron Man November 1, 2007 at 10:17 AM #

    All the Way My Savior Leads Me (Fanny Crosby)

    vs.1
    All the way my Savior leads me;
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.
    vs.2
    All the way my Savior leads me,
    Cheers each winding path I tread;
    Gives me grace for every trial,
    Feeds me with the living Bread.
    Though my weary steps may falter,
    And my soul athirst may be,
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see;
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see.
    vs.3
    All the way my Savior leads me
    O the fullness of His love!
    Perfect rest to me is promised
    In my Father’s house above.
    When my spirit, clothed immortal,
    Wings its flight to realms of day
    This my song through endless ages—
    Jesus led me all the way;
    This my song through endless ages—
    Jesus led me all the way.

  18. Shannon Lewis November 1, 2007 at 1:44 PM #

    We plan on introducing “Let Your Kingdom Come” as ‘walk-in’ music at our Youth Group very soon – I showed it to the whole band and they were really responsive to it. We’ve already done Altrogge’s “Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son” and “It was Your Grace” and the kids loved them (though “It was…” has been better received as a ballad), so I hope to keep mining VALLEY OF VISION for new songs for some time to come.

    blessings,

    Shannon

  19. Chris de Vidal November 5, 2007 at 10:05 AM #

    I asked a friend who is the local representative for the Voice of the Martyrs, a persecuted Christian advocacy group. (Piper admires their leader Richard Wurmbrand, if that tells you anything.)

    He said that “If You Say Go” by Vineyard (written by Diane Thiel) is very, very power-filled for persecuted Christians.

    Hope that helps!

  20. Justin Culbertson November 6, 2007 at 3:11 PM #

    I’m just tuning in to the discussion after being away from the www for several days. Great song suggestions! Another I might add is “I Pledge My Head to Heaven” by Keith Green.

  21. gene p November 6, 2007 at 4:23 PM #


    just discovered your site today and look forward to reading in your archives.

    might be a little late, but i’d recommend It Is Well With My Soul.

    blessings and maranatha

  22. Alistair Hamill November 20, 2007 at 6:47 AM #

    Thanks again for all your suggestions everyone. We had a very powerful weekend with Stuart and Jill Briscoe. God’s message was clear and challenging to us all.

    We managed to get a song written to allow us to pray for the persecuted church which we used a couple of times over the weekend. We hope to demo it over the next few weeks. I’ll post a link to it here when it’s done if any of you would like to take a listen.

    BTW, if you’re interested, we’ve got one of Stuart’s talks on our church website so far. The link is

    http://www.glenabbey.org.uk/display/talks?s_category=Mission%20Conference%202007

    Al

  23. Tiamae May 8, 2008 at 2:27 PM #

    Hi,
    Thanks so much for these resources! I’ve been looking for songs to sing to God on behalf of our persecuted brethren, and this list has been wonderful! I also have a couple I thought I might add. Martyr’s Song by Todd Agnew and When the Saints by Sara Groves.

    You can see Sara’s music video for this song on Godtube.com at the following link. I really recommend watching it:
    http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=0a28255a9246aead5ba7

  24. Heather September 30, 2008 at 6:09 PM #

    There’s a group called The Seeds that did a song called Remember the Chains. It’s an eye-opening song about the persecution of our brothers and sisters. You can get it on itunes.

  25. Robert September 26, 2009 at 8:19 AM #

    Charles Wesley’s “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim” was published in a booklet called “Hymns for Times of Trouble and Persecution,” during a period when the Methodists were facing cruel abuse. Two stanzas not often seen today show the context of the hymn:

    The waves of the sea have lift up their voice,
    Sore troubled that we in Jesus rejoice;
    The floods they are roaring, but Jesus is here;
    While we are adoring, He always is near.

    When devils engage, the billows arise,
    And horribly rage, and threaten the skies:
    Their fury shall never our steadfastness shock,
    The weakest believer is built on a rock.

  26. Be Thou My Vision October 29, 2009 at 9:19 AM #

    Thanks a lot! Thank you for sharing this.

  27. William Rymes March 27, 2010 at 10:55 AM #

    Your blog has a very nice web design. Morever the information here is both free and is of high-quality. I am no doubts subscribing to your RSS immediately.

  28. Matt Rose October 16, 2013 at 11:15 PM #

    Have you heard the Amy Shreve song ‘Beautiful Scars’? Insightful and passionate song about persecuted church.

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