From hymns of old to modern-day faith anthems, many mainstream artists choose to sing Christian songs as a tribute to their current faith experience. Whether it’s an adaptation of a classic or a newfound favorite, here are ten famous Christian songs sung by mainstream artists.
How many of these have you heard?
1. Justin Bieber: “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”
One of the biggest superstars to come out of Canada, Justin Bieber has lived quite the pop star life. But despite his struggle through his teenage years as a global icon, Bieber found God and is now on a better path.
This evidence of his journey was shown when he performed the Delirious track “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” at his recent concert.
2. P. Diddy (Formerly Puff Daddy): “I’ll Be Missing You”
With a large part of the song coming from the 1929 gospel song, “I’ll Fly Away,” Diddy’s 1997 chart-topping song was a tribute to the late rapper Biggie Smalls. The song is also centered around a copyright settlement that Diddy had to pay to musician Sting.
3. Mumford & Sons: “Come Thou Fount”
London’s bluegrass and country heavyweights Mumford & Sons caught America by storm fifteen years ago. Leader Marcus Mumford shares about his Christian upbringing by saying, “Spirituality is the word we engage with more.”
Mumford also said, “We’re fans of faith, not religion.” And their version of Robert Robinson’s 1757 hymn is a testament to the song with deep theological truths.
4. Kanye West: “Jesus Walks”
Kanye West (Is it Ye still, or has he changed yet?) is no fan of conformity. His 2004 release “Jesus Walks” went against the grain, charting at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Chart and winning a Grammy.
It was a momentous achievement, considering the last time the word Jesus appeared on a Billboard Chart single title was George Michael’s 1996 single, “Jesus To a Child.”
5. Jeff Buckley: “Hallelujah”
Controversially, Jeff Buckley took a Leonard Cohen song and made it unrecognizable — albeit in a good way. Cohen’s original slant recalled Biblical imagery of King David and Bathsheba — also Samson and Delilah.
Cohen later said that the song wasn’t religious at all; actually, it was about themes of a suggestive nature. But with Buckley’s voice and heartfelt spirituality, this version of “Hallelujah” is definitely considered a spiritual experience.
6. Chris Tomlin: “I Will Rise”
Chris Tomlin has successfully made the crossover from Christian music recording artist to household name with a series of Billboard 200-topping albums. “I Will Rise” is a powerful anthem about the hope and freedom that Jesus brings when we enter heaven.
7. Bob Dylan: “When He Returns”
The most influential songwriter of the modern age has had an on-off relationship with the Man Upstairs, though lately, they are hand-in-hand once again.
This single from his 1979 Slow Train Coming album has some powerful lyrics: “Will I ever learn that there’ll be no peace, that the war won’t cease Until he returns.”
8. Carrie Underwood: “Something in The Water”
Carrie Underwood’s rise from American Idol winner to hugely popular country music star has been astonishing. Her single, “Something in The Water,” had great crossover appeal, peaking on both the Billboard 200 US Hot Christian Songs and U.S. Hot Country Songs charts in the same year.
“I can’t help but smile when I hear it,” said Underwood in a 2014 interview. “I hope it has the same effect on everyone who listens to it.”
9. Joan Osborne: “One of Us”
Joan Osborne’s memorable 1995 debut single reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnered three Grammy nominations. The AllMusic database describes the song as “a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff.”
The imagery imagines God walking among his people, catching a bus, and even feeling hurt: “A slob like one of us.”
10. Simon & Garfunkel: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
“When you’re down and out; When you’re on the street; When evening falls so hard; I will comfort you,” sang the famous duo in this 1973 world-famous anthem.
The metaphors of troubled water being our turbulent lives and God looking over us are clear. The idea that God will lay down and help us navigate life’s river is beautiful and inspiring.
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