set list

Me: “I have hundreds of songs that either the band plays in worship, or I play recordings of as a prelude to worship.”
Interested: “Really? What are they?”

OK, fair enough. I keep getting asked this question, so it’s only reasonable that I try to answer it. This list is not guaranteed comprehensive, but it will give you lots to do with your Amazon or iTunes account. I hope you’ll find something here to liven your worship, or at least to lift your playlist.

A Whole Lot of Heaven (Iris Dement)
Across the Universe (Beatles)
All I Really Need (Raffi)
And So It Goes (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
Another Day in Paradise (Phil Collins)
Arlington (The Wailin’ Jennys)
Beautiful (Carole King)
Beauty in the World (Macy Gray)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell, but I like Amy Grant’s version)
Blowin’ in the Wind (Peter Paul & Mary)
The Bug (Mary-Chapin Carpenter)
Calling All the Children Home (John McCutcheon)
Can’t Buy Me Love (Beatles)
Christians and Pagans (Dar Williams)
Christmas in the Trenches (John McCutcheon)
City of Immigrants (Steve Earle)
Come Alive with the Spirit (Dana Decker)
Common Ground (Ivan Lins, Winter Consort)
Compassion (Todd Rundgren)
Counting Blue Cars (Dishwalla)
Desert Pete (Kingston Trio)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances (Daniel Johnston)
Echoes (Dar Williams)
Everybody Be Yo’self (Keb’ Mo’)
Everything is Broken (Ollabelle)
Farther Down the Road (Jane Voss)
From a Distance (Nanci Griffith)
Galileo (Indigo Girls)
Gathering of Spirits (Carrie Newcomer)
Get Together (Youngbloods)
Give Me Love, Give Me Life (G Harrison)
Glory Bound (The Wailin’ Jennys)
God Bless the Grass (M Reynolds)
Grow in Your Own Sweet Way (T Chapin)
Hammer and a Nail (Indigo Girls)
Hear Me, Lord (Bonnie Raitt)
Heart of the Matter (Don Henley)
Help Somebody (Susan Werner)
Here Comes the Sun (Beatles)
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)
Holy Now (Peter Mayer)
Home At Last (Exit 43)
House of Hope (Toni Childs)
Hymn to Her (Pretenders)
I Am Willing (Holly Near)
I Can See Clearly (Johnny Nash)
I Don’t Believe (Paul Simon)
I Hear a Call (Emmylou Harris)
I Wonder What Would Happen to this World (Harry Chapin)
I Hope (Dixie Chicks)
I Send My Love (Karen Drucker)
I Will Stand (Emma’s Revolution)
I’m In a Hurry (Alabama)
I’m Looking for a Miracle (J Winchester)
If I Had A Hammer (Peter Paul & Mary)
If Everyone Cared (Nickelback)
If Today Was Your Last Day (Nickelback)
Imagine (J Lennon)
Instant Karma (J Lennon)
Israelites (Desmond Dekker)
Jesus Christ (Woody Guthrie, I like the version by U2)
Jesus is Just Alright (Byrds)
Just Like You (Keb’ Mo’)
Keep on Moving Forward (Emma’s Revolution)
Keep the Flame Alive (Dana Decker)
Let It Be (Beatles)
Let the Mystery Be (Iris Dement)
Let Your Little Light Shine (trad.)
Lighthouse (The Waifs)
The Little Things (Tom Wofford)
Looking for a Planet (Green Chili Jam Band)
Love is the Answer (Todd Rundgren)
The Mary Ellen Carter (Stan Rogers)
Message in a Bottle (Police)
Modest Proposal (Mose Allison)
Mother Earth’s Routine (Tom Chapin)
The Next Country Over (Matthew Andrae)
Ngiculela (Stevie Wonder)
One Love (B Marley)
One of Us (J Osborne)
One Voice (The Wailin’ Jennys)
Passing Through (Catie Curtis)
Peace (Los Lobos)
Peace Love and Understanding (Elvis Costello)
Peace Train (Cat Stevens)
Pray for Grace (Michael Franti & Spearhead)
Precious Time (Van Morrison)
Pride (In the Name of Love) (U2)
Prodigal Son (Rev. Robert Wilkins, version by Rolling Stones)
Put A Little Love In Your Heart (Jackie DeShannon)
The Rainbow Connection (Paul Williams)
Redemption Song (B Marley)
Revolution Starts Now (Steve Earle)
Riverside (Ollabelle)
Secret o’ Life (James Taylor)
Shambala (Three Dog Night)
Shed a Little Light (James Taylor)
Shine All Your Light (Amy Grant)
Shower the People (James Taylor)
Spider Web (Joan Osborne)
Spirits in the Material World (Police)
Spiritual (Sweet Honey in the Rock)
Stand! (Amy Carol Webb)
Storm Before the Calm (Michael McDonald)
Superstition (Stevie Wonder)
Teach Your Children (CSN&Y)
Thanks a Lot (Raffi)
Three Little Birds (B Marley)
Turn Turn Turn (Byrds)
Up From Your Life (James Taylor)
Wade In The Water (trad.)
Wartime Prayers (Paul Simon)
We Shall Be Free (Garth Brooks)
Weave (Rosemary Crow)
West (Wagogo)
What the World Needs Now is Love (Jackie DeShannon)
What’s Goin’ On (Marvin Gaye)
When You Walk On (Eliza Gilkyson)
Where Is the Light? (Peter Mayer)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (lyrics: L Bartolucci/V Bass)
Your Life is Now (John Mellencamp)
Worth Fighting For (Angelique Kidjo)

East to the West (M Franti & Spearhead)
Anyway (Suzzy and Maggie Roche)
All I Need Is the Air (Hollies)
Money (Pink Floyd)
Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
(If the) Heart Is Right (Carlene Carter)
Change (Keb’ Mo’),
Tomorrow Never Knows (Beatles)
One World (Is Enough for All of Us) (Todd Rundgren)
Nature’s Way (Spirit)
Gaia (James Taylor)
Hold On (Green Day)
Iris (Goo Goo Dolls)
Time of Your Life (Green Day)
Love Invincible (M Franti & Spearhead)
Cumbia de los Muertos (Ozomatli)
Saint Behind the Glass (Los Lobos)
Blessed (Robt Randolph)
Everybody Hurts (REM)
Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)
My Sweet Lord (G Harrison)
Joy (plum village)
Love is the Answer (Garnett Silk)
Crazy Crazy Crazy (M Franti & Spearhead)
Happy Xmas (war is over) (John Lennon)
Bold as Love (Jimi Hendrix)
You Gotta Be (Des’Ree)
Myth of Fingerprints (Paul Simon & Los Lobos)
Heaven (Talking Heads),
Too Much (Dave Matthews Band)
Never Too Late (M Franti & Spearhead)
Love is a Verb (DC Talk)
Love and Hope (Ozomatli)
Love Train (Blenders)
Give a Little Bit (Supertramp)
Yes, I Will (Michael Franti & Spearhead)
Seasons of Love (Stevie Wonder, Rent cast)
Peace Train (Yusuf)
Slow Fade (Casting Crowns)
No Wait (Plum Village)
Art of Being Kind (Kristina Olsen)
How Can You Live in the Northeast (Paul Simon)
Dear God (XTC)
Mahk Jchi (Ulali)
New Hymn (James Taylor)
Hallelujah in My Heart (Carlene Carter)
Teach Your Children (CSN&Y)
Rhythm of Life (Paula Cole)
Bless This Mess (David Bazan)
Outrageous (Paul Simon)
All Is Full of Love (Bjork)
Love Rev (Israel Houghton)
Dear God (Sincerely, M.O.F.) (Monsters of Folk)
Blue Boat Home (Peter Mayer)
I Saw God the Other Day (Victor Wootten)
Saint Behind the Glass (Los Lobos)
100 Years To Live (Five for Fighting)
Keep The Faith (Jon Bon Jovi)
Love is the Only Way (Robert Randolph w/ Dave Matthews)
Hannukah O Hannukah (Brave Combo)
Getting Ready for Christmas Day (Paul Simon)
Just One Love [M Bolton]
Peace On Earth [Madgesdiq]
Blessed Be [Raffi]
We Can Work It Out (Beatles)
Everyone Deserves Music (Michael Franti & Spearhead)
I Just Want to Celebrate (Rare Earth)
All We Need Is Love (Big Yard Family)
Where is the Love (Black Eyed Peas)
People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)
The Blessing (Ashley Clevelend)
Why Shouldn’t We (Mary-Chapin Carpenter)
Firework (Katy Perry)
Why Can’t We? (Kathy Mattea)
Closer to Fine (Indigo Girls)
Stronger (Robert Randolph)
Guru Man Blues (Eric Bibb)
The Way It Is (Bruce Hornsby)
Burnin’ Hell (John Lee Hooker)
The Core (Eric Clapton)
I Will Walk With You (John Fogerty)
I Shall Believe (Sheryl Crow)
Ever Since the World Ended (Mose Allison)
Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)
Angel (S McLachlan)
Jacob’s Ladder (Chumbawamba)
Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)
Someday (Rob Thomas)
One Love (Commissioned)
Mockingbird (Derek Webb)
Why Am I Praying? (Suzzy and Maggie Roche)
I’d Love to Change the World (10 Years After)
Bearing Witness (David Bazan)
What Matters More (Derek Webb)
Presence of the Lord (Blind Faith)
Love’s In Need of Love Today (Stevie Wonder)

About liberalreligiongetsloud

Contemporary Music and Worship Director (retired), First Unitarian, Albuquerque NM
This entry was posted in contemporary worship. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to set list

  1. Lindsey says:

    Wow, we have almost the exact same playlist at Harmony! There are also some great ones on your list that I hadn’t thought of, so I’ll be sure to look into those for the future. We also tend to find a lot of great material from children’s music (not annoying children’s music like The Wiggles, I mean GOOD children’s music). Soundtracks from kids’ movies are also treasure troves. We’ve recently done “Barking at the Moon” from the Bolt soundtrack, “Little Wonders” from the Meet the Robinsons soundtrack, and I’d love to do “Circle of Life” from the Lion King some time too. Thanks for the great list!

  2. That’s over 200 songs. Try to imagine a “hymnal” with that body of songs in it! The mind boggles.

  3. Another couple that didn’t make the “master list”: Paula Cole’s “Rhythm of Life” and “Amen”. The latter will need an f-word excised, unless you have an extraordinarily unflappable congregation, but it’s a fantastic song and worth working over.

  4. This is great. Thanks so much for posting your link on my blog. I’m very inspired and we will steal from this liberally!

    Michael Franti–oh yeah, so much good stuff there. And he’s a local boy–maybe we could get him to come play! 😉

  5. Pingback: The effect of strong opinions, contemporary music, and more UU blogging « : The Interdependent Web

  6. Daniel Schell says:

    I know there are *some* UU congregations who have pasted this into their hymnals, but: “Gentle Arms of Eden” by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer belongs.

    I don’t know that this belongs in a hymnal or a set list, but I think it belongs on an iPod for use when/if it seems appropriate to illustrate hardship: “What it’s Like” by Everlast. It is rough, has more than a few of the words one may not utter on air according to the FCC, but there is a radio-friendly edit. It is darkly beautiful, covers rough topics, but has a very polished and Real feel to it. – More Social Awareness music than anything else.

    “Wonderful” by Everclear – Deals with Children coping with their parents’ Divorce. Again, rough topic, handled with insight, love, and catchy, quality rock and roll music.

  7. Daniel Schell says:

    Mmmm and Lots of bits to glean from India Arie 🙂 Lots of sweetness, reality, and Love there. Very Spiritual. Take a listen! From sweetly real love songs like “Therapy” and “He Heals Me” and the lovely, upbeat wedding anthem “Can I Walk with You” to spiritually awakening uplifting songs like “A Beautiful day” and social justice clue-you-in tunes such as “Ghetto” or “Better Way” (with Keb’ Mo).

    Rocky Mountain High – John Denver

    Raise the Roof – Carbon Leaf
    One Prairie Outpost – Carbon Leaf
    Let Your Troubles Roll By – Carbon Leaf
    What about Everything? – Carbon Leaf

    Many of Phil Ochs’ tunes are contemporary to the 60s, but plenty of them are timeless:
    The Ballad of the Carpenter
    Power and the Glory
    There but for Fortune
    What are you fighting for? [This one is more set in time than the others I suggest]
    When I’m Gone – A quiet get-up-and-do-it-now song.
    Colored Town [the words we use may have changed, and things may be 20,000% better than in the 1960’s, but this is still a phenomenon one can witness in any city of sufficiently large size.]

  8. January says:

    As an old fogey retired UU minister, I want to compliment you on your list. I played pop songs back in the ’70s on Sundays, when the lyrics supported the service theme.

    I see worship as essentially a folk art. I see some of the best poetry in pop music. I wish our hymn book composers might recognize that while we have some great music in the books, it is not necessarily singable. Imagine what a difference it makes if a congregation enjoys (to the extent possible) singing rather than dreading it, as is the case nowadays.

  9. Jean Lenke says:


    We’re working on a “A Big UU Music for Contemporary Worship Song List” database and hope to publish it in a sharable, “add to” format, later this month. Please keep your suggestions coming, we’re lifting everything off this blog and many other lists, plus our own, and we have our congregation involved in making suggestions. We are at 567 songs. I’m linking everything to something you can listed to on the web and plopping in lyrics, when able. Eventually, it would be great to get folks from all over the country participating, adding to the mix, posting new ideas, chords, etc. What a great resource this could be come to all of us!

    If anyone has the technology to make this easier that putting it up on a Google Doc, let us know!

  10. I’m looking forward to your list! Thanks in advance for sharing your work with us.

  11. Great list. Great additions. Does anyone know what happened with “A Big UU Music for Contemporary Worship Song List”?

  12. Jean Lenke says:

    Hi Everyone… the “Big UU Music for Contemporary Worship Song List”… is still in the works, near completion… or readiness for publication. It will be collaborative, posted publicly on Google Docs as well as in SPOTIFY.


  13. Liz says:

    Thank you so much for this list! After the North Bay UU revival today, my husband and I started talking about contemporary music and making a playlist for slow times and one for more upbeat times with our daughter. So happy to see Franti on this list, just don’t forget about “Hello Bonjour”! I am going through our iTunes right now and know we have a bunch of these listed. Awesome list!

    In peace,

  14. Quinn says:

    I would add “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” by Emma’s Revolution. Also we did a lovely version of “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Give Us Peace) with my chorus in Atlanta. Here’s a similar version:

  15. Quinn says:

    Down by the Riverside
    Ain’t Gonna let Nobody Turn Me Around
    Ain’t You got a Right to the Tree of Life
    Ain’t Gonna Study War No More
    This Little Light of Mine

  16. Quinn says:

    Whoops! Down by the Riverside and Ain’t gonna study war… both the same song!

  17. Laurie says:

    I’d like you all to consider the works of UU composer John Shea (he’s a member of our choir). His pieces are right up there with the best contemporary worship music. Stylistically his works span a range of contemporary genres, including jazz, funk, gospel and Latin flavors. His works are styled for choirs and smaller ensembles (so they are suitable to use as anthems), and are a blast to perform. They often get spontaneous acts of applause from the congregation. See

  18. Lauren says:

    Brandi Carlile’s “Have You Ever”…and thank you!

  19. Melinda says:

    Vance – so good to get to know you at GA. This list has me so energized and uplifted, and like a previous poster, I am thrilled beyond description to see Michael Franti on the list.

    Some songs I’ve been wanting to do in worship that aren’t on your list:

    National Anthem — Carbon/Silicon
    The News — Carbon/Silicon
    One Day — Matisyahu
    Change — Tracy Chapman
    Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution — Tracy Chapman
    Perfect — Pink (with an eye to language in lyrics)
    Beautiful Day — U2
    One Tribe — Black-Eyed Peas
    Where is the Love — Black-Eyed Peas
    This Will Be Our Year — OK Go
    Waiting on the World to Change — John Mayer
    Against History — Dan Wilson
    Move On — Mike Doughty (again, with an eye to language)
    When You Dream — Barenaked Ladies

    And a few I’ve done that aren’t on your list:
    None of Us Are Free — Solomon Burke
    With My Own Two Hands — Jack Johnson & Ben Harper

  20. Vince, I just had great success ending a service for our UUMA chapter with Bruce Springsteen’s “Rocky Ground.” We had two acoustic guitarists, a drummer (not sure what the drum was–a djembe I think), a rapper, and several singers, and the congregation joined in on the refrain.

  21. Jean Lenke says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Try this!

    We started a list a while back and now keep it on SPOTIFY. You need a “free account” to listen, but it’s easy to set up.


  22. “Down to Earth,” Peter Gabriel (closing song from Wall-E)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s