The Essential Songwriter Collection: Rodney Griffin

The Essential Songwriter Collection series lists ten songs each from legendary songwriters that every Southern Gospel fan should add to their collections.

  1. God Saw a Cross (Kingsmen, Missing People, 2009). These lists stick to recorded versions—otherwise, Ernie Phillips’ show-stopping renditions during the half-year he filled in with the Kingsmen, earlier this year, would be named here.
  2. He’d Still Been God (Greater Vision, When I See the Cross, 1997). The Freemans’ rendition is so popular that this is perhaps the most controversial choice on the list. But the enduring live popularity of Greater Vision’s rendition in their sets plays a role in its selection here.
  3. His Scars (Perrys, This is The Day, 2003). This is perhaps the least expected song to make the top ten list—but it is one of the most deserving. This is a hidden gem that could be positively huge for the right group.
  4. I Know I’m Going There (Kingdom Heirs, NQC Live Vol. 4, 2004). Rodney Griffin has written more than a few strong uptempo quartet songs; this is the strongest. The Kingdom Heirs’ studio rendition is strong, but the true potentional of the song was only realized live.
  5. If You Knew Him (Perrys, Almost Morning, 2009). Granted, because a member of the Perrys co-wrote the song, most people think of Joseph Habedank when they think of the song. This was, however, a Griffin co-write.
  6. Just Ask (Greater Vision, Quartets, 2003). This is probably the strongest feature Greater Vision ever had for their long-time tenor Jason Waldroup.
  7. My Name is Lazarus (Greater Vision, Far Beyond This Place, 1999). Of course.
  8. A Pile of Crowns (Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta, 2002). The song is neither a toe-tapper nor a soaring anthem, but it’s still one of the strongest lyrics Griffin has ever penned.
  9. Soon We Will See (Greater Vision, Live at First Baptist Atlanta, 2002). This song is the anchor, the highlight of what many still point to as Greater Vision’s greatest recorded accomplishment.
  10. The Voice I Could Not Resist (Greater Vision, My Favorite Place, 2005). This song and “His Scars” are probably the two least likely picks on this list. Yet we must not forget that Griffin is also a vocalist, and this is quite likely the finest vocal performance of his career—conveying one of his most exquisitely crafted lyrics.
The ten that almost made the list: Anchor of Hope, The Depths of the Father’s Love, Don’t Let the Sandals Fool You, Faces, God Will Pass By, He Had to Rise, He Is to Me, He Locked the Gates, He’s Still Waiting By the Well, We Seek Your Face.

What do you consider to be the definitive versions of Rodney Griffin’s songs?

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44 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Absolutely love “The Voice I Could Not Resist” and glad it made your list.

    So, so many great Rodney songs I can imagine it was hard getting it down to 10.


    • Agree! I listen to that song a lot.

  2. There are too many. Ten choices does not compute. Faces, Common Garments, Just Pray, Just One More Soul, He Locked the Gates, God’s Grace is Sufficient, They Should Have Cried Holy, He Washed My Feet, He Is to Me, It Pays to Pray…in addition to the ones you already named.

    • Brian – the whole point of this format for a post series is to make those tough calls and put, say, “I Know I’m Going There” ahead of the 99%-as-deserving “He Locked the Gates.” If you had to narrow it down to ten, which ten would it be?

      • Well, I don’t know. This is why my lists normally go to 20-plus! 🙂

      • Sure, top 20 lists are easier. These are the challenges. 🙂

  3. He Gave Me The Well is one of my favorites, several groups have recorded it, but the GV version is the best. Also Mark Trammell Trio’s recording of What Good Would A Crown Be & If Only Just A Few (off the Always Have A Song project) are also two of the finest songs Rodney has ever written, IMO.

    • I really wanted to include “If Only Just a Few”! In fact, I meant to have that on my runner-up ten list; its omission there was accidental.

      • Daniel,

        On #1: You and I both were in Hickory that night when Ernie blew the doors off with God Saw a Cross…That was an absolute powerful version of the great song… Also, Mr. Griffin sure has penned some great ones… Good list…

      • Yes, and that wasn’t the only time Ernie blew the doors off with that song!

  4. Man, what a tough list. I can’t argue your picks, but I think I’d have to put songs like “He’ll Carry Me”, “Like I Wish I’d Lived”, “What You Took From Me”, “Common Garments” and “Spirit of Brokenness” at least in honorable mention if I had my own list. I wish they’d feature the last one every now and then.
    You know you’re an awesome writer, when you’ve written a couple hundred solid, Jesus exalting songs that wouldn’t even come close to making even an honorable mention, haha!!

    • I really wish I could have included “He’ll Carry Me,” especially, in the top-ten or follow-up-ten lists.

  5. “The Voice I Could Not Resist” is my absolute favorite of all of Griffin’s songs!

    A few others that are very high on my list are:

    1. God wants to hear you sing.
    2. He gave me the well.
    3. He’ll carry me.
    4. Common Garments.
    5. Spirit of Brokenness.
    6. He washed my feet.

    It seems like most of his songs tell a story. Maybe that’s what makes them so easy to listen to and follow. Great writer!

    • I *love* “God Wants To Hear You Sing”! Another classic, for sure!

  6. “Without Jesus” is simply beautiful!

    • Yes, it is!

    • All thumbs with this phone. It is simply beautiful and my favorite Rodney song. Love hearing Greater Vision sing it!

  7. “Go Tell The People” is my all time favorite Rodney song.

  8. Ah, I didn’t realize that Rodney wrote “I Know I’m Going There.” Love hearing the Kingdom Heirs do that song! “Soon We Will See,” is another great song. Two others that I enjoy but I’m not positive that he wrote:”Just Wait Til He Stands Up,” and “Without Jesus.” Anyone know if he penned those as well?

    • You might note “Without Jesus” being named elsewhere in the comments here. 🙂

      • Haha, OK. 🙂 I did see it mentioned, but didn’t see the comment that actually confirmed it. I forgot to mention “Temporary Tomb” and “Depths of the Father’s Love” in my list. Awesome songs.

  9. Just for reference sake . . . Rodney has 362 titles listed on the BMI website so he’s got quite a number to choose from

  10. Really love “God So Loves”…”I Choose”…..”Use Us Jesus”….”He’ll Carry Me Through”…..and a favorite of mine” What You Took From Me!!!….so much great songs Rodney wrote!!

  11. I couldn’t get it to 10 but I could, with some difficulty, get it to 11, so here goes:

    All Who Call
    Don’t Let the Sandals Fool Ya
    He’d Still Been God
    He’ll Carry Me
    It Means Just What it Says
    Let My Life Make a Difference
    My Name is Lazarus
    Pile of Crowns
    Spirit of Brokenness
    They Should Have Cried Holy

    • Great list! But even setting aside my two hidden gem picks, “The Voice I Could Not Resist” and “His Scars,” there are three on my list I don’t think I could easily give up: “I Know I’m Going There,” “If You Knew Him,” and “Just Ask”!

  12. How about “Paid In Full Through Jesus Amen”…..”Your Story”….and “God’s Got A Bigger Thing Going On”…and “As I Am”…!!…great songs!!!

  13. I know this list is subjective as it is your opinion. But in my opinion I’d put ” He Had to Rise” at the very top of the list. Very good list though and it shows why he’s won song writer of the year so many times.

  14. My favorite RG song hasn’t made the list of anything above. “If This Is What God Wants” by EH&SS. They recorded this back in 2005. Loved/Love this song. It always reminds me when things don’t go my way that God is Sovereign and I just need to deal with it.

    • I thought Monty Lane Allen wrote that. So, is this a co-write? Eighth Day recorded it on their self-titled “Eighth Day” album, and Monty lead it.

      • The one EHSS recorded was solely written by Griffin.

      • Same lyrics to both songs………. seriously, I have both albums.

      • Perhaps Eighth Day made melodic tweaks and claimed co-writing credits for their rendition. Anyhow, though, the official authority on the point (BMI, who says to whom songwriter royalties must be paid) says it is a song solely written by Griffin.

      • I just checked BMI, and it’s not listed under Monty. As you pointed out, it’s under Rodney.
        Appears that I was just under the impression that Monty wrote it.

      • No problem. And as I mentioned, I am fully aware that albums sometimes get songwriter credits wrong. 🙂

  15. My favorite Griffin songs are:
    1. Just One More Soul
    2. Use Us Jesus
    3. My Anchor Of Hope
    4. God Wants To Hear You Sing
    5. Don’t Let The Sandals Fool Ya

  16. God Saw A Cross is an amazing song, was fortunate to sing it on Missing People and God blessed it …btw i recorded it again with The LeFevre Quartet, we sing it everynight…thank you Rodney for a great non-Greater Vision song

    • Neat – I didn’t know that the LeFevres had redone the song, but it makes total sense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see your fans requesting that song for the rest of your life on the road! What a song indeed!

    • What!

  17. “I’ll say thanks” that Gold City recorded and “a perfect candidate are two more that I really like

  18. “I Choose” and “I’ll Say Thanks” are great.
    Love the cut of “I’ll Say Thanks” from “Walk The Talk Live”. If you’re right with the Lord, it can give you the GLORYBUMPS. If you’re not right with Him, then it’ll give you reason to get right.

  19. Here is my top ten list of Rodney Griffin songs:

    1. He’d Still Been God
    2. God Wants to Hear You Sing
    3. Faces
    4. It Pays to Pray
    5. He Gave Me the Well
    6. With All the Many Miracles
    7. My Name is Lazarus
    8. He Had to Rise
    9. It Means Just What It Says
    10. Don’t Let the Sandals Fool Ya

    Am I at ten already? How could I leave out “What You Took From Me”, “They Should Have Cried Holy”, “Just Ask”, “As I Am”, “Like I Wish I’d Lived”…Rodney Griffin has a special talent for getting inside a Bible story and singing his way out, vividly painting a picture and driving a lesson home, all in three or four minutes. He is also gifted at writing about the mighty God being revealed and manifested in Jesus Christ. I think he also has a special knack for writing with a reflective, prayerful tone (Like I Wish I’d Lived, Spirit of Brokenness). He writes good fast songs and ballads, too…a classic writer and a classy gentleman.

    • Well, all the difficulties y’all are having coming up with lists helps prove that his many Songwriter of the Year awards are no fluke! Yes, of course, there are other writers who are also deserving of the award, but these songs prove that his awards aren’t because of Lazarus alone! 🙂

      • Agreed, Daniel. I, for one, have had issues with fans voting him Songwriter of the Year for so many years. But then I hear a quartet song that I really like, only to find out later that Rodney Griffin wrote it. 🙂 Makes me realize that, yes, he is still writing good songs, and not just for Greater Vision. Prime example would be the current single from the Mark Trammell Quartet, Way Past Ready. Great song from the pen of a great writer, sung by a great quartet. Good combination all the way around. 🙂