Best choir songs by Walter Hawkins

The best choir songs from the vast Walter Hawkins collection

Walter Hawkins, singing with the Hawkins Family and with the Love Center Choir, has brought us so many essential gospel choir songs that it’s difficult to narrow down a list of favorites. But here’s my list of the very best of his contributions to the choir repertoire.

 

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Changed


Changed

“He changed, my life complete

And now I sit, I sit at His feet . . .

A wonderful change has come over me”

Lead singers love this song, but I think the best part is the gorgeous choir harmonies. The harmonies and rhythm on the verses were a departure from what everyone expected from gospel music at that time. And so beautifully done.

Tempo: Slow

Key: Ab

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 4 / 5
  • For musicians: 4 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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God Is Standing By

 

“Everywhere you go, there is trouble

Everywhere you go, there is strife . . .

God is standing by, no need to cry”

This is the old-school gospel blues sound that we all grow up with. And so well done.

Tempo: Moderate

Key: Bb

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2 / 5
  • For musicians: 2 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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Goin’ Up Yonder

Going Up Yonder

“I’m goin’ up yonder

Goin’ up yonder

Goin’ up yonder, to be with my Lord”

A classic selection for funerals.

Tempo: Moderate

Key: Db

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 2 / 5
  • For musicians: 2 / 5

Lead singer required? There are two terrific lead verses, but sometimes choirs will just sing the verse in unison.

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I’m Going Away


I’m Going Away

“I’m going away . . .

To a place prepared just for me

A special place, I’ll live eternally”

I especially love this one as a piece of songwriting. Some progressive harmonies for his time. Another good choice for funerals, too.

Tempo: Slow

Key: Db, then Gb

Resource links:

  • Lyrics for I’m Going Away
  • Chords for I’m Going Away

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 4.5 / 5
  • For musicians: 4 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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Jesus Christ Is the Way


Jesus Christ Is the Way

“When I think about

The hour

Then I know what I must do . . .

I will open up my heart

To everyone I see

And say, ‘Jesus Christ is the way'”

I love the message of this song. Sweet, but purposeful at the same time.

Tempo: Slow

Key: Gb

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3 / 5
  • For musicians: 3 / 5

Lead singer required? They have one on the original recording, but it’s optional.

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Thank You


Thank You

“Thank You, Lord, for all You’ve done for me”

I wrote a whole web page about “Thank You” because it’s one of the most important songs in the gospel choir repertoire. A lot of people would consider this to be Walter Hawkins’s masterpiece.

I was at a convention once and one of the bishops just started singing the verse out of the blue. Even though we were not his choir, he just knew that we would be ready to back him up. Even if there isn’t a choir in the stand, you could start this one up and the congregation would do the choir part for you, probably in harmony and everything. Every choir should know this one.

Tempo: Moderately fast

Key: Ab

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3.5 / 5
  • For musicians: 3 / 5

Lead singer required? Absolutely.

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There’s a War Going On


There’s a War Going On

“There’s a war going on

And if you’re gonna win

You’d better make sure that you have Jesus

Deep down within”

The interplay between the lead and the choir on this song is really good. Some interesting harmonies, too.

Tempo: Fast

Key: F

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3 / 5
  • For musicians: 2.5 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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Until I Found the Lord


Until I Found the Lord

“Well, I cried and I cried

I cried all night long

I cried and I cried

Until I found the Lord”

An energetic one with a great groove.

Tempo: Fast

Key: Eb

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3.5 / 5
  • For musicians: 2.5 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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When the Battle Is Over


When the Battle Is Over

“Don’t wait till the battle is over, shout now

You know in the end, you’re gonna win”

You hear people quote this song all the time in church, so it’s clear that the message has impacted a lot of people.

Tempo: Fast

Key: Ab

Resource links:

Difficulty level:

  • For singers: 3 / 5
  • For musicians: 3.5 / 5

Lead singer required? Yes

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What is your favorite Walter Hawkins choir song?

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