Favorite Songs

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Favorite Senior Citizen Songs

Songs that senior citizens in the United States enjoy singing along to are generally those that evoke memories of their younger years. These songs, which they often have memorized, tend to be favorites because seniors are able to easily recall the lyrics which allows them to participate in sing alongs. A list of 100 of the most popular senior citizen sing along songs has been compiled and presented below, along with a deeper analysis of what makes a song a favorite with older American adults.


To select 100 of the most popular sing along songs favored by senior citizens in the United States, I relied on three experts who have been creating musical compilations for older adults for many years. The first 26 songs are from Melodic Memories, a company that provides sing alongs for seniors. The site says it offers "sing along music for seniors that you can play over and over again as pleasant background music, use in a music program, for therapy, or just a good ol' sing along."

The next 25 songs are from ElderSong, a publishing company that has specialized in publishing "creative activity material for older adults" since 1985. It is a distributor of "books, videos, and recordings for activity directors, recreation and creative arts therapists, occupational and rehab therapists, and other caregivers who work with older adults."

The final 49 songs are from Roger Chartier's website SeniorEntertainer. Chartier is a "seniors entertainer" and provides "musical entertainment for seniors." He is a "full time musician/vocalist/ humorist/ entertainer, who has performed at many, many senior facilities in the southeastern New England area." As he has been performing for senior citizens since 1966, it is my belief that Chartier is an expert in selecting the most popular sing along songs for older adults. Although Chartier has a repertoire of over 500 songs, I only chose those that would resonate with the current population of adults age 65 and older. This means that I excluded more modern songs that might be popular with a slightly younger population.

Please note that these songs are in no particular order. Although many of the first 26 songs appeared on subsequent lists, I was careful to cull them to ensure no song appears more than once on the final list of 100. In addition, some sources are older than the Wonder guideline of 24 months due to the fact that the songs chosen have been favorites of current senior citizens for many decades. I was also careful to exclude religious songs as requested.

WHAT MAKES A song popular with senior citizens

While there is no preexisting information that explains what makes a song popular with senior citizens in the United States, we can use what information that does exist to make inferences as to how songs become favorites. The consensus among experts is that songs become popular when they are played repetitively and listeners have the opportunity to memorize the lyrics. In fact, one critical component of favorite sing alongs is that the "words are easily comprehended." Older songs from the early part of the 20th century have clear lyrics that are easily memorized. This makes them memorable for seniors, who have likely heard these songs regularly since childhood.

This connection to their youth is another reason why some songs remain popular with senior citizens. DailyCaring, a website that provides resources to senior caregivers, says, "another benefit is that music helps people reminisce and go back and relate to emotions and experiences." For this reason, many of the songs that made the list of 100 are those that seniors remember hearing when they were growing up. In fact, Carefect Homecare Services observes that "seniors are more likely to enjoy music from their generation than they would be to enjoy today’s hits... Many seniors will likely remember their favorite artists from the past during their teen and young adult years but they probably will not recognize today’s popular artists and be able to enjoy their music." As such, it is logical to infer that some songs that are popular with senior citizens are favorites simply because they remember them.

This notion is supported by the fact that many music therapists have noticed that "music can help seniors process their thoughts and maintain memories. For those who suffer dementia, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven efficacious in obtaining a positive response even when the person can no longer communicate." Moreover, AgingCare states that "music is particularly beneficial for people struggling with memory loss because it’s easier for them to access the memory of a melody than to recall a person’s name or a past event. The memory of the song stays with them much longer than regular memories... Music and memory are intimately intertwined," which explains why the sources that supplied the 100 songs on this list indicate they are popular at nursing homes, retirement homes, and other long-term care facilities that are primarily inhabited by older adults.

100 POPULAR non-religious sing along songs for senior citizens

3. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
4. Danny Boy
10. Margie
12. Billy Boy
16. Down By the Old Mill Stream
17. If You Were the Only Girl
28. America
33. Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here
35. I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
37. Memories
39. Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning
41. Over There
43. Smiles
45. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
52. A Hot Time in the Old Town
56. Always
58. Baby Face
72. Dixie
74. Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree
78. How Much is That Doggie in the Window
80. If You're Happy and You Know It
81. In the Good Old Summertime
82. I've Been Working on the Railroad
87. Oh Suzanna
88. Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)
92. Show Me the Way to go Home
93. Sittin' on Top of the World
99. Over There


The 100 popular sing along songs listed here are likely favorites with senior citizens because they have lyrics that are easy to remember and they evoke memories from their childhood. Research has shown that songs that have been played over and over again often become popular simply because senior citizens remember the words and associate the tunes with positive memories in their past.
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Favorite Senior Citizen Hymns

Senior citizens in American tend to prefer hymns they grew up singing in church because the melody and words are familiar to them. A list of 100 most popular hymns favored by senior citizens in the United States has been compiled using a variety of sources that have studied the songs elderly Americans enjoy most often.


The list of 100 songs that are popular among senior citizens in the United States begins with the favorite hymns played in nursing homes. As nursing home residents are typically older people, the first 14 songs are likely the most popular traditional hymns favored by senior citizens. The list continues with 16 more hymns that are popular with the elderly for sing alongs. I have excluded hymns that were already on the first list. The next 12 songs are from a list of the most popular hymns in America as determined by those most frequently published in the United States between 1737 and 1960. Since many senior citizens grew up prior to 1960, I felt that they would have been the target audience for these publications and would therefore choose these hymns as favorites.

Seven hymns were taken from 11 of the Greatest Hymns in Church History, again because senior citizens who grew up in the church would know these popular songs. The next 11 songs are taken from an album geared toward senior citizens called "Senior Select: Favorite Hymns." Since this is a "best of" CD, it is assumed that older people would know and enjoy the hymns on this album. The final 40 songs are taken from a book called "Hymns We Love to Sing." The reasoning behind selecting these songs is that the description says the book "meets the demands from clergy and health care professionals for a collection of familiar hymns which could be used anywhere: in congregations, hospitals, funeral homes, care facilities, or at home." Senior citizens would likely favor familiar hymns since they have grown up with them and know the words by heart. I have chosen the first 40 hymns (according to page number) in this book that have not already appeared on the first five lists.

Please note that outside of the first 14 hymns, none are in any formal order. This is because these 100 songs have been compiled using several sources, each with a different methodology. However, it is clear from the research that the more familiar a hymn, the more popular it is with senior citizens.

What Makes a hymn a favorite of senior Citizens

While there is no preexisting information that explains what makes a hymn popular with senior citizens in the United States, we can use what information that does exist to make inferences as to how hymns become favorites. When presenting its list of old traditional hymns in nursing homes, FaithfulFriends stated that "many residents have grown up in the church, with its rich music background and others will identify with songs from their generation, both religious and secular." This statement indicates that senior citizens enjoy songs that remind them of their childhood, which often included going to church nearly every Sunday. With 65% of older adults saying that religion is important to them and 48% of adults 65 and older attending church on a regular basis, it is logical to assume that the hymns they frequently hear or have heard in church are those that become favorites.

It is also interesting to note that when it comes to popular hymns, elderly people who suffer from dementia can often "sing along even though they may have trouble with ordinary conversation." This could stem from the fact that hymns they memorized in their youth are more accessible in their long-term memory than songs they did not memorize or that are newer. In fact, studies have shown that "since our music, emotions, and memories are so connected, we have something that’s very vibrant and alive regardless of whether we know where we are and who we are talking to... It (music) helps reach people and helps them feel like themselves, so they’re less likely to be frustrated that they can’t communicate." Therefore, songs that they remember are logically going to be favorites.

Another reason why certain hymns become popular among senior citizens may be that the words of religious music are comforting and familiar. For example, 68-year-old Joni Eareckson Tada, founder of Joni and Friends, an outreach and ministry organization that seeks to spread the word of God to people with disabilities, said that when she was in the hospital, certain hymns provided her strength and hope as she recovered from a severe injury. She said, "I love the words to the old hymns! When I was first injured and laying in my hospital bed in the dark, I would chase away fear by softly singing my favorites. God used the timeless words of those beautiful hymns to lift my spirits and draw me close to Him." It is probable that senior citizens use hymns to lift their hearts and spirits. In fact, as Reasonable Theology states, "few things can stir the heart and soul like singing out a familiar hymn with other believers."

100 popular hymns favored by U.S. Senior Citizens

8. I Love to Tell the Story
11. Shall We Gather at the River
12. Just a Closer Walk With Thee
15. When the Saints Go Marching In
32. Come We That Love the Lord/We're Marching to Zion
33. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
35. Alas and Did My Savior Bleed/At the Cross
36. Am I a Soldier of the Cross
37. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
38. There is a Fountain Filled With Blood
39. Blessed Be the Ties That Bind
40. Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
44. All Creatures of Our God and King
45. Doxology
48. It Is Well
54. Hallelujah! What a Savior (Man of Sorrows)
60. Christ for the World We Sing
61. Come, thou Long-Expected Jesus
65. Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
68. There Is a Green Hill Far Away
75. Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart
77. Breathe on Me, Breath of God
79. For the Fruit of All Creation
84. As Comes the Breath of Spring
87. For the Beauty of the Earth
91. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
92. All People That on Earth Do Dwell
93. Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
97. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
98. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty


The 100 popular hymns listed here are likely favorites because they are sung often in church, both when senior citizens were growing up and as they attend services today. Many seniors also enjoy the words to these hymns as they find them comforting and familiar as they grow older.
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Popular Church Anthems

The number one factor that goes into making a church anthem a favorite or popular with church choirs in the United States is that is must have lyrics that convey the church's message in a way that is best understood by the congregation. As such, anthems that impart specific theological messages that are repetitive in nature (i.e. messages of Christ's birth and death) are likely to become favorites because they are used time and again for the same purpose. A list of 100 most popular church anthems has been compiled and presented below, along with a deeper analysis of what makes an anthem a favorite with United States church choirs.


To select 100 of the most popular anthems favored by church choirs in the United States, I first determined that anthems are not the same as hymns because an "anthem basically refers to a song of praise, loyalty, happiness or celebration" whereas a hymn "refers to the written text which is intended to be sung." Therefore, I purposely excluded pre-compiled lists of popular hymns and only included lists of church anthems upon which to base my own compilation. This was challenging because many websites use the words "anthem" and "hymn" interchangeably.

However, I did find one source that provided lists of popular anthems that excluded hymns. I established that this source, Ashley Danyew, is an expert in church music because she is "a church musician, music educator, writer, and creative entrepreneur" who has "received her B.A. in Music from the University of Georgia and completed an M.M. and Ph.D. in Music Education at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. She also received the Certificate in Arts Leadership from Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership." She has more than 15 years of church music experience and her website is dedicated to helping churches find the right music for every occasion. I first consulted Ms. Danyew's list of favorite anthems for intergenerational choirs because I believe that anthems that are favorites among several generations would naturally be the most popular anthems overall. This list provided me with the top 25 anthems.

I then moved on to Ms. Danyew's lists of Top 50 Favorite Anthems for the Small Church Choir and Fifty (More!) Favorite Anthems for the Small Church Choir to determine the other 75 most popular anthems. My assumption for using these lists is that "58% of U.S. churches don’t reach triple digits on the weekend" in attendance, which means the majority of American churches are small in nature. Therefore, these lists would best represent the popularity of anthems with church choirs in the United States.

I was careful to cull these two lists to ensure I did not provide duplicate entries. Please note that these two lists are not ranked and are instead alphabetical, which means that it is possible that number 100 is more popular than number 26, but without hard data, there is no reliable way to establish that fact. Still, this list of 100 popular anthems provides an overall picture of favorite anthems with U.S. church choirs.

In addition, please note that I have only included Christian anthems because they tend to be more popular than anthems from other religious denominations. This is logical because 70.6% of Americans claim Christianity as their religion. As such, it can be inferred that the most popular anthems are going to belong to the prevailing religion. Several sources that are used may be older than two years but they contain relevant information and thus, still included in this answer brief.

What makes an anthem a favorite with church choirs

While there is no preexisting information that explains what makes an anthem popular with church choirs in the United States, we can use what information that does exist to make inferences as to how anthems become favorites. The primary factor in what makes an anthem popular is that it is sung on a regular basis, which gives choir members and the congregation an opportunity to memorize the lyrics. Anthem lyrics are critical since according to the Reformed Church in America, "people tend to remember the theology they sing more than the theology that is preached." Therefore, it is logical to infer that anthems that best present a message are going to be used repeatedly for theological messages that are also imparted repeatedly. For example, Easter comes every year, so anthems that best convey the messages of Easter will likely be used by church choirs every year, thus becoming "favorites" by default.

Premier Christianity agrees that anthems are important for imparting theological education. This source says that lyrics are important because "in a Church culture in which personal engagement with the Bible is sometimes patchy, worship songs and hymns become a primary source of theology for some. For others, it is the most dynamic tool in terms of connecting with God. We pick up memorable bits of scripture (often a bit mangled to fit the verse structure), and larger principles about God through the lyrics of our Sunday anthems. So the accuracy of their theology really matters." Anthems are almost always selected to match each service's message or sermon, which means an anthem's words are the most important factor in determining selection.

Churches also often choose anthems that have been sung for decades to remind congregations that Christianity is enduring. The Reformed Church in America states, "It is also important for the congregation to know some of the great hymns of faith in order to have a sense that the Christian faith is both relevant and enduring, and to be enriched by the faith of the 'great cloud of witnesses.'" These songs, which have been instrumental in church services for hundreds of years, are more likely to be popular simply because church choirs and congregations have been exposed to them repeatedly as members of churches.

According to Jake Gosselin, who runs Churchfront, a website that provides "practical resources for the creative and innovative (church) leader," other factors that go into making a church anthem a favorite with United States church choirs include:

1. Singability — Jake stated, "If a church is not engaging with a song, it is probably because that song is too difficult to sing." Congregational songs become popular if they are easy to sing. They need to have a small vocal range, be in a comfortable key, and have a short motif which is "a short melody, usually consisting of two or three notes, that when linked together form a sequence."

2. Good theology — Jake says, the words of anthems should be "rich in both theology and direct references to Scripture."

3. Gender balanced — They are songs that both men and women love to sing. Men like songs that have "a victorious, anthem-like feel" rather than those that have feminine overtones.


3. Song of Joy, Song of Praise
5. We Are Singing for the Lord is Our Light
8. Soli Deo
9. I Believe
11. Uyai Mose (Come, All You People)
12. Christ is Born This Holy Night
14. Sizohamba Naye (We Will Walk with God)
20. Canta Una Canción (Sing a Song)
21. Hosanna Processional (A Palm Sunday Canon)
33. Grace
35. How Beautiful (Your Songs of Praise)
36. How Can I Keep From Singing?
38. It is Well with My Soul
39. Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now
43. My Tribute
58. In the Season of our Plenty
59. For the Beauty of the Earth
61. How Far is it to Bethlehem?
67. Ain’t No Rock Gonna Shout for Me
80. My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
81. Take My Life That I May Be
83. We Believe
85. Draw Us In the Spirit’s Tether
90. Give Thanks and Glorify His Name!
91. O Come and Lift Your Voices
93. Tune My Heart to Sing God's Praise
94. What Shall I Offer My God?
99. The Hands That First Held Mary's Child
100. Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming


The 100 popular anthems listed here are likely favorites because they best convey repetitive theological messages. They also are easy to sing and likely have themes that are preferred by both men and women. Finally, many of these anthems have endured for centuries, making them popular simply because they are associated with tradition.
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Community Chorus Songs

In general, songs that are popular with community choruses in the United States are those that are accessible for singers of all abilities, require participation from all chorus members, and incorporate movements and actions. A list of 100 popular community chorus songs in the United States has been compiled and presented below, along with a deeper analysis of what makes a chorus song a favorite with United States community choruses.


Community choruses are much more popular in the United Kingdom than they are in the United States, so it was challenging to find song recommendations for American community choruses. However, I was able to find an initial list of 17 that was compiled by Chorus America in an effort to "address the challenge of finding quality repertoire for community choruses." The remaining 83 songs on the list are those that are found in the repertoire of Music Matters, a "nationwide network of inclusive community choirs." I selected these songs because they appeal to diverse singers in intergenerational choirs of all abilities. These songs are likely popular with community choirs across the country because they have been arranged for choirs made up of singers of varying abilities.

Please note that songs on the previous request for popular church anthems have been excluded from this list of songs that are popular with community choruses. In addition, sources that are older than Wonder's typical 24 months have been used in some cases due to a lack of information available about community chorus favorites. Moreover, what has made community chorus songs popular is likely not to have changed much over the years, since the factors that go into this popularity are not based on time.

The list presented here is not in any particular order, as the pre-compiled information was likewise not listed in any specific order, other than alphabetical.

WHAT MAKES A Song A FAVORITE WITH community choruses

While there is no preexisting information that explains what makes a song popular with community choruses in the United States, we can use what information that does exist to make inferences as to how songs become favorites. The primary factor in what makes a song popular with community choirs is that it is easy to sing. Since community choruses "are made up mostly or entirely of volunteer singers and usually aren’t affiliated with a church or a school," it is critical for them to have music that all members can access vocally. In addition, "community choruses face unique challenges, including huge differences in age, music taste, and artistic ability among their singers," so favorite songs are those that appeal to diverse groups of people.

Other factors that seem to increase the popularity of songs with community choruses include a requirement of participation from all members and incorporation of movement or action. For instance, community chorus leader Ysaye Barnwell says she "draws the songs she teaches mostly from the African and African-American traditions, in which participation is expected. 'In an African world view everybody sings,' Barnwell says. 'It is not about how you sound, it is what you bring, knowing that singing together is a powerful thing and expecting that whatever you need to happen can be made to happen."

Likewise, Mark Growden, another community chorus director, says he "teaches tunes he has written as well as folk songs from various cultural traditions and incorporates games, improvisation, and movement into the experience. Having the different activities helps participants to let go, he says. 'They aren’t thinking, ‘Am I singing it right?’ They are just singing." In other words, people who are shy about singing in a choir become less inhibited if the songs they are singing use movement to enhance the melody.

Finally, many community choruses are also interested in "golden oldies, pop, folk, and patriotic tunes," as well as "music about social justice, acceptance, human rights, and community celebration." The songs on the following list of 100 popular community chorus songs fall into these categories, as well as meet the requirements of being easy and vocally accessible for all members of a community choir.

100 POPULAR HYMNS FAVORED BY U.S. Community Choruses

1. Bonse Aba
11. Sun Quilt
12. The Seven Last Words of Christ
16. Seven Line Supplication to Guru Rinpoche
18. A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes — from "Cinderella"
19. A Spoonful of Sugar — from "Mary Poppins"
21. "Abeeyo" — Australian Aboriginal "Welcome" song
24. Angels
25. Bambelela/ Never Give Up — Traditional South African song
29. Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
34. Chim Chim Cheree — from "Mary Poppins"
37. Daisy Bell (Bicycle built for Two)
38. Diamonds (Shine Bright Like a Diamond)
40. Dublin in the Rare Old Times
41. Ghostbusters (Theme Song)
42. Hallelujah
43. Happy
45. Hepa Hepa Nay Nay — Traditional Native American spiritual
47. Ho Hey
48. I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)
49. I'll Make a Man out of You — Disney's "Mulan"
53. I Like the Flowers — Children's folk song
54. I Still Haven't Found what I'm Looking For
55. I Wanna be Like You — The Jungle Book
56. It's Time
60. Moon River
61. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
62. My Way
64. Oh Won't You Sit Down — Traditional African American spiritual
65. Oh Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny off the Bus
68. Ride on
69. Roar
71. Run
72. She'll be Coming Round the Mountain
73. Sing
74. Siyahamba/ We Are Marching — Traditional South African song
75. Smile
76. So Long, Farewell — from "The Sound of Music"
77. So This is Love — from "Cinderella"
83. The Bare Necessities — from "The Jungle Book"
90. Titanium
95. What Will We Do With the Drunken Sailor?
98. Who Will Buy? — from "Oliver"
99. Yellow Bird
100. You've Got a Friend in Me


The 100 popular songs listed here are likely favorites with community choruses because they are easy to sing and are vocally accessible to all members of a community choir. In addition, many of them are traditional songs that require participation or are likely to incorporate movements and actions to enhance the music.