Songs about religion are really a mixed bag.
Some are about what we think of as traditional religion – going to church, observing a sabbath, following commandments, that sort of thing – some are rife with other sorts of spirituality, and some manage to bridge the gap between the two.
While there aren’t nearly as many songs about religion as there are about God in general, there are still plenty, but we think the best are those that bridge that gap between the traditional and the spiritual, that take those old-school religious themes and present them in unique ways.
Of all the religion songs, these are some of the most noteworthy we’ve come across in popular music, songs so good they’ll make you want to commune with God, whatever your God may be.
My Church – Maren Morris
This song is all about finding spiritual meaning (and comfort) in those things that organically touch our souls.
In this case, it’s unsurprisingly music.
And just to make sure you get the analogy, it throws in ideas like redemption and revival and all the “amens” and “hallelujahs” you could ask for.
Love is My Religion – Ziggy Marley
A song about the search for meaning and finding it outside of mainstream religion.
It lightly thumbs its nose at those things mainstream religion does do – namely, converting, condemning, and scaring people into believing – while preaching a message of love, compassion, and freedom for all.
And it does it all with a light hand and absolutely joyful beat.
Holy Now – Peter Mayer
In our 7 Songs About God That Aren’t The Usual Fare, we included “God Ain’t No Stained Glass Window” by Johnny Cash, which is about the divide between God as universal entity and God as man-made construct (i.e. religion).
This song falls along that same line, but while “Stained Glass Window” focuses on what we as humans don’t know, “Holy Now” focuses on what we as humans do (or could) know simply through the experience of living.
While it doesn’t exactly scold religion, it does make the point that religion is insular, focused so much on its scriptures and warnings of the world to come that it makes people miss God’s presence in the world around us.
It’s a really lovely reminder of the everyday beauty we so often fail to see.
And, if you think this song would be a little more uplifting with more pep, here’s the Kathy Mattea cover.
Spirit of God – Beth Hart
This song isn’t just about spiritual revival, it sounds like spiritual revival. Though, it may be more of a combination of a spiritual and personal one.
We won’t get too much into Beth Hart’s personal struggles with mental health and addiction (you can check out this excellent Magnet magazine article for more on that), but it does help to know that she had them and got to a very dark place in the years before she wrote this song.
Not because it captures the essence of the song. It doesn’t. In fact, it does the exact opposite.
It captures where someone in a very dark place can get to with some sort of grace. I think only someone who hit rock bottom could ever write a song this joyful or grateful.
My personal favorite on the list.
Constant Craving – KD Lang
Did you know this song is about spiritual longing? I didn’t until very recently.
Mainly because I never actually sat down and focused on its lyrics.
For me, this song was really more of a muzak/background song, and my muzak/background comprehension made me assume it was a “yearning for a person” song.
Now, I know.
Listening to it again with its actual meaning in mind, I think the most interesting thing about this song is how simply it expresses the deep spiritual longing all humans have.
Love Thy Neighbor
(from The Prom)
This song is just what its title implies, a call (a rollicking one!) to love everyone and not to judge.
You could also say this song is about the way religion can lead us astray, focusing more on perceived sins than helping us become better, more caring people.
What this song does best, though, is point out hypocrisy in multiple humorous ways.
And, again, it will give you that straight-up revival feel.
Nothing Fails – Madonna
Madonna has done a fair share of songs that touch on religion, her most famous being “Like a Prayer.”
This song is smaller and certainly less controversial than “Like a Prayer,” but like “Like a Prayer” it combines religion with more worldly desires.
Unlike “Like A Prayer,” though, which is a song about God with ambiguous lyrics that can be interpreted as a song about sexual desire, this song is explicitly about a person that impacts you so profoundly, you feel the presence of God through them.
Or, at the very least, are grateful to something for their existence.
And, don’t worry, while the themes are different, the choir is still there.
There’s a 44-second stretch in the second half that is “jack up your headphones, close your eyes, and just listen” material.
Other Unique Songs About Religion
Welp, that’s our seven.
To finish up, here are a few songs about religion with a unique take that didn’t make our list.
- Take Me To Church – Hozier
- Read Between The Lies – Slayer
- Two By Two (from The Book of Mormon)
- You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen
- Crucify – Tori Amos
Still craving some divine tunes? See 7 Songs About God That Aren’t The Usual Fare.