I Created My Playlist of “Go-To” Hymns!

sacred music

Not long ago, I posted about creating a playlist of “go-to-hymns” that you can rely on to invite people to sing at any and every parish gathering so that we can more truly and consistently express the joy that is ours in the Risen Christ. Since then, I have been presenting at a number of gatherings (workshops and seminars) around the country where people have made a point of singing joyful hymns and refrains as part of the overall experience, and this has truly been transformative.

Recently, I created a playlist for my iPod with over 40 songs (for now) that I can confidently turn to at a moment’s notice to invite people to sing. When I travel, I bring along my mini-speaker that is Bluetooth-equipped so that I can lead song “karaoke”-style. The songs I choose must fit one of the following criteria:

  • The song must have a simple refrain that can be easily learned and repeated.
  • The song must be so well-known that the majority of folks will know it by heart. This can never be assumed, however.
  • The lyrics must be repetitive (Taizé-style) so that they can be picked up quickly.
  • The song must be in a singable key and have a good pace. Some recordings/renditions are so slow or fast that they’re not conducive to communal singing.

My goal is never to have to print song sheets or provide hymnals, since that is often not convenient or realistic for various parish gatherings and meetings. Here, then, is my list:


What other songs would you suggest? (Not just your favorite hymn, but a song that meets the criteria I listed above.)

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Love this idea! “Here I Am, Lord” is one of my faves as well as “Be not Afraid.” Will definitely incorporate singing when I begin my youth ministry sessions later this year.
    Just downloaded your “Bible Blueprint” ebook. Will be using your PDF “Bible Workshop for Young People” and look forward to sharing it at our next youth ministry planning meeting this month.
    So glad I found you and your website!
    Eileen on Guam

    • Hi Eileen. I recommend Catholic Classics Vol. 3 (Bobby Fisher); Instrumental Songs for Catholic Mass/Christian Living (Catholic Church Musicians), and Be Not Afraid (David Phillips). All are quite nice.

  2. Hi Joe, First off thank you for all you do, and for making it so available, it is very appreciated resource. Last year, I found a page of object lessons and activities that I incorporated into my Fourth Grade class. The page was not in blog form, just a listing of 10 activities focused on the affects of sin. I can’t remember all 10 but there was an object lesson involving magnets and paper clips, another where an egg is passed around, another where you ask the kids to guess which statement out of several about yourself is untrue, and then an activity where you have a contest on how many situps and pushups each kid can do. Does this sound familiar? I thought for sure it came from you, but I am unable to track it down. Could you direct me to that list? Thank you,

  3. I second, or third the vote for “Here I am, Lord” as a hymn that the youth like to sing. We incorporate three contemporary Christian music YouTube videos directly into some of our lessons – “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns for the lesson on King David, “I AM” by Mark Schulz in the lesson on The Last Supper and Crucifixion, and “We Are Catholic” in the lesson on Pentecost and the Church.

    I am active in our Parish music ministry, and a huge advocate for keeping the great tradition of Gregorian chant and early Sacred Music (e.g., Renaissance polyphony) “alive and well” in the Church. Some of the Catechists have incorporated playing this type of music in their lessons, especially in older grade levels.

    Great discussion and ideas, Joe – thanks!

  4. Thank you for this incredible Hymn playlist! Since we had to move CLOW to a parent-led at-home digital resource, we try to include songs each week. Would you consider creating your playlist on youtube?

    • You’re welcome, Kellie! Glad this served you well. Not sure I would have the time to create this playlist on YouTube!

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