Sunday, November 15, 2015

Top Twenty Jesus People Songs

I recently read Larry Eskridge's wonderful God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (2013). I highly endorse this informative and insightful book.

Eskridge rightfully points out that the Jesus People movement did not just begin and end in California in the late 1960s. Rather it eventually spread to middle class evangelical youth across the United States in the early 1970s.

A major tool of the dissemination of this message and movement from West coast counter-culture to evangelical suburbia was the great music that has since laid the foundation for Contemporary Christian Music.

I recently promised my lifelong friend and fellow lover of Jesus People music - Chris Rossetti - that I would offer my Top Ten list of Jesus People songs. But I could not stop with just 10. So here are my Top Twenty choices.

Country Faith - Ballad of the Lukewarm

Love Song - Front Seat, Back Seat

Children of the Day - For Those Tears I Died

Malcolm & Alwyn - Fool's Wisdom

Debby Kerner - The Peace That Passes Understanding

Honeytree - Clean Before the Lord

2nd Chapter of Acts - Which Way the Wind Blows

Larry Norman - I Wish We'd All Been Ready

Tom Stipe - Come Quickly Jesus

Jamie Owens Collins - Hard Times

Love Song - A Love Song

2nd Chapter of Acts - Easter Song

Malcolm & Alwyn - Tomorrow's News

Love Song -Think about What Jesus Said

Day By Day - Original Cast of Godspell

Love Song - Welcome Back

Marsha Carter (of Children of the Day) - Can I Show You

Church Girard - Sometimes Alleluia

They Will Know We Are Christians (By Our Love) - Everyone who sang it

Pass It On - Everyone who sang it

I also want to strongly recommend the "A Decade of Jesus Music 1969-1979" presentation at the web site. Check it out and leave a message of appreciation.


  1. Enjoyed this blog very much. Glad you included Children of the Day - For Those Tears I Died as one of your picks. This one still moves me to the core. Amazingly I don't remember Malcolm & Alwyn - Tomorrow's News.I will have to give a listen. Did you consider the works of Barry McGuire too late for this grouping? Also just curious, why no Keith Green selections? Loved this list. I realize it shouldn't even be limited to 20! Rock on sir!

  2. Don't forget Brewer and Shipley's One Toke Over the Line, Sweet Jesus. lol

  3. Chris: Here is a quick answer to your question about the criteria for my selections and why some of the well-known names of the Jesus People music are missing. My tastes for this music were formed quite early in the larger Jesus People phenomenon. All the selections on my list are limited to my high school years from fall of 1971 to spring 1974.

    Barry McGuire was in the middle of transitioning from his earlier folk-pop career in the early seventies. (I knew him from his "Eve of Destruction" recording in the mid-1960s. "You may leave her for 8 days in space" written during the Gemini missions.) Keith Green had yet to release a national album. Other like Don Francisco, Petra, Mylon LeFevere, and Randy Stonehill had not yet emerged on the national scene as Christian artists. The one name that I probably should not have overlooked is Phil Keaggy. While he was productive during the early seventies, he was never really one of my favorites. (I know that is sacrilege to you. Sorry.)

    I intentionally did not consider more mainstream artists - who were associated with the established recording studios. These artists were already producing music before the Jesus People movement and - in many cases - seemed to "jump on the bandwagon" as the Jesus People music expanded its sale potential.

    These more mainstream artists that I listened to daily, but did not consider for my list of favorites, include: Andrae Crouch and the Disciples (with Sandra Crouch. Bili Thedford, and Sherman Andrus), Dallas Holm, The Archers, The Imperials (the transitional line-up with Terry Blackwood and Sherman Andrus), Andrus, Blackwood, and Co., the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Evie Tornquist, Reba Rambo, and Dannibelle Hall.

    There were, of course, lesser known Jesus People bands - that performed and recorded at the right time and in the right spirit - but I just did not think were very good. These include: Sweet Comfort Band, The Way, All Saved Freak Band, and (maybe a little later) the Resurrection Band.

    Of course, my selections are all quite subjective.