Looking for religious music that isn't typical of religious music

For example “Jesus is Just Alright” by the Doobie Brothers.

I’m not looking for Hymns, I’m looking for contemporary songs that mention Jesus, God, Christianity… etc.

Yeah, I know there are a lot of athiests, agnostics, and others out there. With all due respect, I don’t need really care to hear your replies if they’re knocking the above request.


Well, there’s My Sweet Lord, which arguably includes Jesus among the other deities mentioned. Also, Spirit in the Sky, although I’ve never been sure how serious that is, if at all.

You might also include Morning has Broken, but that’s more of a traditional hymn.

Jewel’s Hands, seems pretty religious, too.

Are you looking for contemporary, mainstream rock/pop songs? I mean, there is a rather large genre of Christian rock (and pop and rap and reggae etc.) so I just want to know if you’re asking about stuff you would hear on mainstream popular radio, or if you are looking for recommendations from contemporary religious music in general.

The Proclaimers, “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian.” Awesome.

Well, on the one hand, there’s contemporary Christian music: Christian rock, et al. The stuff released on Christian labels by overtly Christian bands, marketed to the “Christian” market. A recent thread discussing this: Tell me about Christian rock music

On the other hand, there are “mainsteam” songs with religious or spiritual themes: songs by secular artists (who may or may not be Christian (or some other religion) but don’t market themselves as Christian artists). This could include songs by George Harrison, U2, Johnny Cash, and many others. Some of these are listed in this old thread: Atheist Dopers: favorite religious songs

I’m looking for mainstream stuff I’d hear on my local non-Christian based radio station. Like the oldies station, or a rock station for example.

Sufjan Stevens. The Seven Swans album is the most overtly christian, but Michigan and Illinois (not the full names) also have religious themes (check out ‘Vito’s Ordination Song’).

Also, ‘Samson’ by Regina Spektor is about the biblical story and also one of the most beautiful songs.

edit: I guess these are more college radio than mainstream, but I’ve heard Samson in a German H&M, so who knows.

Maybe this is too subtle, but I’m pretty sure U2’s “Mysterious Ways” is about the Holy Spirit. Of course U2 has plenty of other “religious” songs, some that specifically refer to God or Jesus and some that don’t.

A few in the singer-songwriter vein:

“The Ballad of Mary Magdalen” by Richard Shindell (includes Jesus and Mary M. having a sexual relationship.)
“Miriam” by Pierce Pettis (about Mary the mother of Jesus)
“One Hundred Names” by the Nields (though that’s a pretty nonspecific Higher Power kind of song.)
“Hymn” on the Peter, Paul and Mary album “Late Again” is about a Christian (or possibly highly assimilated American Jewish) journey of faith.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Jesus Built My HotRod by Ministry.

In The House Of Stone And Light

Battle Hymn Of The Republic

Both are very different.

Would Led Zeppelin’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” qualify?

I’m Gonna Wait by Lyle Lovett
Like A Tramp On The Street by T-bone Burnett
Weapon Of Prayer on The Notting Hillbillies
Give Me Strength as sung by Eric Clapton
Let’s Make A Baby King by Jesse Winchester

Can’t Find My Way Home didn’t seem religious to me, but Clapton said he saw it that way.

I’d recommend the entire track of Godspell.

Jesus Christ Superstar – not so much; too downbeat.

Covenant - Stalker

I second Godspell – most of it, anyway. “Day by Day,” especially.

Prince has a lot of religion-themed songs. A bunch of the songs on LoveSexy, “The Cross,” “7,” “The Holy River.” He’s Jehovah’s Witness now and has always had a lot of Christian threads in his work. I think more religious artists should record songs like “Gett Off.”

Johnny Cash did a lot of religious songs too. On the Love, God, and Murder three-disc set, the “God” disc collects some of his best.

Bob Dylan went through a born-again Christian phase in the late '70s and released three albums with heavy Christian themes. I think the best known ong from these is “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

For some reason, Pandora loves recommending Christian Rock to me… Check out Flyleaf and Fireflight.

Which reminds me of Church, also by Lyle Lovett, about an exceptionally long-winded preacher:

Randy Travis has a fairly recent song called Three Wooden Crosses. Really good songcraft. I recommend listening to it first rather than just reading the words. If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your 99 cents.

I second Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, another amazing song.