What makes a song a “shoutin’ song”?

Last night, I was talking with a friend who loves Southern Gospel but is well off the beaten path of the heart of this genre’s circuit. As I was trying to describe that unique breed of song known as a “shoutin’ song,” it occurred to me that we might arrive at a better description with a collective exercise.

First, for other readers off of the beaten path, here are a few examples of local and regional groups singing “shoutin’ songs”:

These songs share a few common characteristics:

  • They are slow
  • …but theyΒ aren’t big ballads – they hold the same dynamic intensity throughout, as opposed to starting low and slow and building to a big, slow ending
  • They’re either about salvation or Heaven (or both)
  • They’re delivered passionately, and to the right audience
  • There is, at least, an a cappella encore (but is this an intrinsic characteristic or a coincidence with these three?)

What other characteristics make a song a “shoutin’ song”?


For more Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

31 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. When a song speaks to a real life situation and conveys deliverance and hope for a better tomorrow, it may prompt an inward emotion and thus, a shout. Howver, a shout is more than an emotional frenzy. It is when the soul is penetrated. The Greek word for soul is psyche. It’s where we get our word psychology. The soul is the seat of our emotions. Joy is contained within the soul. Sometimes a song touches the depths of our soul. In Psalm 103 David said “Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me. Bless His Holy name.” How Great Thou Art says “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee.” Man is a triune being created in the likeness of God. The body is the outward man. The soul is the inward man. The spirit is the innermost man. When the Holy Spirit connects with our spirit, this will move us in a profound way. Jesus said true worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth. A song may move beyond the body and even the soul and reach our spirit, which is the Holy of Holies of worship. I believe this is where the shout is born. At this moment, the cares and trials of life are temporarily forgotten and forsaken. It is then that we realize He is to be praised and lauded and exalted. Examples of songs that have done this for me are “That’s Him” by the Hoppers, “One Scarred Hand” by Gold City, paticularly the acapella reprise, and “Til the Storm Passes By” by Greater Vision. This is an intersting topic. I hope to hear from others.

  2. I agree with all of what Barry said above. I would be hesitant to try to classify songs in this way, or come up with “criteria” or “chracteristics”. The shout, in its genuine form, is a move of the Holy Spirit, and I think He’s capable of moving on slow songs, fast songs, a cappella, ballads…anything.

    I think the reason the characteristics you listed seem to be associated with that shouting sort of worship is that, free from overbearing and even distracting music, the message of the lyrics is more able to touch the listener. I believe it is the message, not the music, that brings a shout to a Christian.

    • Oh, far be it from me to say that the Holy Spirit only moves in one certain sort of song. Yet I think it is far from disrespectful or blasphemous to look at the types of songs which are shoutin’ songs and the types which aren’t.

      • I agree…I just wouldn’t want to be too rigid about it. I don’t think you were.

      • OK, great! I think we’re on the same page then. Yes, the Holy Spirit can move through fast songs, even in this fashion.

  3. For the Fletcher Family, I would have picked “The Old Fashioned Way”. I’ve seen even Independent Fundamental Baptists nearly jump the pew.

    • Is there a good version on YouTube?

  4. My dear Brother, James Branscum (Pastor of Mercer Baptist Church) has been singing a song for many years that was written by Gerald Sweatman…Dustin’s Dad, and if I ever heard a shouter, it’s this song: “Because He Loved Me”. I’ve told Gerald that he doesn’t know it, but he surely had my brother in mind to sing it when he wrote it (Jim would say I’m a little prejudiced, but I’m not!). He sings this song at a lot of Bible conferences and I get to play piano for him, and I can see the worship on the faces of those dear men of God; and I tell you, old-time preachers can do some SHOUTIN’! To show the contrast in song styles, another one that makes me shout is “I’ll Put on a Crown and Walk Around”…my favorite Brumley song of all, and I particularly love the Tony Gore version and track. Takes me right to the Throne! Brian is right…it’s what the song SAYS…what it affirms in your heart and soul, where it takes your spirit to as a saved person that makes you want to shout, if you DO shout. I highly recommend shouting when it’s Holy Spirit-led. It feels REALLY GOOD. And it helps to stand UP and shout!! πŸ™‚

  5. I think Ms. Diane just hit it out of the park.That song “Because He Loved Me” is another “shouter” Some songs that come to mind are “Under His Feet” and the now popular “I Made It By Grace” both by the McKameys. The Hoppers also do the acapella reprise of “I’ve Come Too Far” that also has a “shoutin” effect on people. I think it all depends on the setting and the individuals present. Praise and worship not the genre but the action and reaction. Praise is the action that brings one to worship. Usually if one person is “happy” then a snowball effect will take place and another will join in. I am from a IFB church that well lets face it we’re not very loud haha. However when I go to concerts something convicting can happen and you just feel the emotion. Feel is a loosely used term just saying that I think it really depends on the individuals in the crowd.

  6. I’m a very shy person. A well written song, “When I Get Carried Away,” describes me so very accurately, I dont know why I become a little shy when I get around a whole lot of people and I can’t figure out why I never can’t shout……but the things I know and cannot show one day will overflow.” Many are the times that I have heard shoutin’ songs but all the time I feel like shouting I dont do it, even in the confines of my home. The song sung by the short lived Old Friends quartet featuring Hess,”faith unlocks the door,” nearly makes me shout. It is so hard not to shout to that song, so hard! One of these days I’m gonna shout! Lord hasten the day, when I shall shout!

  7. A note to the individual whose comments were deleted – you know who you are πŸ™‚ – confidently stating that you know other posters here are insincere is outside of the rules for comments here.

  8. Ms. Dianne, I would like you to write a song entitled “I’m Gonna Shout,” has anyone written that already? If you write the I’m Gonna Shout song, I’m gonna shout. There is not a single song of yours that I dont like. Keep up the good work!

    • A few songs that come to mind:

      I’m Gonna Shout – Browns
      Gonna Shout All Over Heaven – Cathedrals
      Gonna Shout Hallelujah – Statesmen
      Something to Shout About – Statesmen

  9. Hey Daniel. I know you won’t post this but I would just like to say I respect you and appreciate your hard work. I do consider you a friend. I guess the point I was trying to make was that just because someone gets caught up in emotionalism and shouts, it is not evidence that a person is right with God. I know there are many good Christian commenters on here and I wasn’t pointing a finger at anyone. God Bless you Daniel. I hope we can be friends and have many more interesting conversations.

    • Actually, that one was OK! Yes, emotionalism doesn’t prove that someone is right with God, but at the same time, shouting isn’t necessarily wrong, and shouting songs aren’t necessarily manipulative.

  10. HEY WE HAVE Reconciled. Yay

  11. Makes me wanna shout

  12. The song that makes me want to shout probably fits your examples to a T. It’s the live version of He Had to Rise by the Kingdom Heirs. The last part of the second verse when Arthur Rise gets fired up singing ” my Saviour came walking out” sends Glory bumps all over.

    • That is one of his best vocal performances ever!

  13. Oh. So someone has already written that. I’m surprised that I’ve not listened to any of the songs, not even the Cathedrals’ song. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

    • Not a problem! It wasn’t but a few years ago that I was new to the Cathedrals’ music, too!

  14. What a great topic -never have seen it written about, but your description of them, Daniel, really hit the nail on the head. And the Fletcher Family link was right on and a real blessing. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Tom! I had never seen it written about before, either!

  15. Thank you, John, for your kind words, which would make any songwriter’s day! I don’t think we can have too many songs about shouting, so I believe I’ll just ponder on it!

  16. You are welcome. You have a point there.

  17. I’ve heard people get blessed and start shouting and vocally praising the Lord when listening to “I Know He Heard My Prayer” at camp meetings and conventions and stuff like that. πŸ™‚

  18. The Spencers have had severall “shouting songs” through the years. “Comming Soon” would be the most recognizable one that is attributed to the Spencers.
    One reason I say that is, the Spencers actually recorded “I’ll Put On A Crown” in 1985, before Tony Gore & Majesty did in 1994. Yet, most Southern Gospel fans will associate “I’ll Put On A Crown” with Tony Gore & Majesty, seeing that they were the ones that obtained “hit status” with the song.
    Then there’s “When I Cross That River”, which is a phenominal song. Unfortunatley, I didn’t find any YouTube videos of it.
    “Two Coats” is another shouter.

  19. Here’s a video of The Singing Cooks preforming “When I Crossed That River.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl5a47CAcL8
    Wade Spencer wrote the song.

    • Speaking of the Spencers and shoutin’ songs, how about “The Model Church”? πŸ™‚

      • Yes, that’s a shouter.
        Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Primitives’ “No Longer An Orphan” is one, also.
        So is “Four Days Late”.