More Than ‘Just Alright’: Jesus Songs That Aim Higher
Musically speaking, there’s just no getting around it: Jesus is more than just alright. Immortalized (as if he needed to be), canonized, satirized, eulogized and patronized, Jesus has been the hallowed and bewildering subject matter of an entire catalog of songs. Kris Kristofferson sang “Jesus Was A Capricorn.” Carrie Underwood put him in the driver’s seat in “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Depeche Mode, then Johnny Cash gave him a dubious nod in “Personal Jesus.” Green Day relocated him in “Jesus of Suburbia.” Kid Rock gave him a guitar in “Rock ’n Roll Jesus.” Jackson Browne pointed out the “Rebel Jesus.“ And Kanye West hit it big with “Jesus Walks.” And that only begins to scratch the surface.
Trouble is, for Christians anyway, songs about Jesus that aren’t rooted in an understanding of the Bible or representative of a sincere relationship with Jesus often fall short of the reverence and honor due His name.
So... in the spirit of discovering or re-discovering the truth of who Jesus is, check out our list of songs that aim higher. Songs that, in their own unique ways, present Jesus in the truest and best light.
“Reign Jesus Reign” by Marvin Sapp
Don’t let the old-school groove from this 1995 Marvin Sapp classic fool you. The lyrics leave no room for doubt: there’s no power, no love, no glory higher than Jesus.
“Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns
From their current album, Come to the Well, Mark Hall’s Jesus song points to the truth that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn, but to bless and to save. The chorus implores believers to have hearts that are ‘led by mercy,’ to ‘reach out with open hearts and open doors.’ Who doesn’t need a friend like that?
“Jesus Freak” by dcTalk
This 1995 Jesus song not only took three college friends all the way to platinum status, but it near singlehandedly raised the social consciousness of Christian music as a genre. With a nod to the hippie culture and the Jesus movement that came out of that culture, Toby McKeehan, Kevin Max and Michael Tait raised the modern pop bar to new heights while being completely outspoken about their faith. “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak?” Listen to this song with 2012 ears, and you’ll still recognize how innovative it was for its day.
“(Jesus) There’s Just Something About That Name” by Bill and Gloria Gaither
Written in 1970, this southern gospel classic was unusual because of its short length, which wasn’t the standard format of the genre. But sometimes big truth comes in small packages, and such was the case in this song that describes the power and strength found in simply saying the name of Jesus. That one name is repeated seven times in the song, and each time it resonates with more power. ‘Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name,’ the song closes, and those who believe totally ‘get’ why.
“Hold Me Jesus” by Rich Mullins
Best known for his contemporary praise anthem, “Awesome God,” Rich Mullins’ song of comfort – from 1993’s A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band – speaks of Jesus as a literal ‘prince of peace’ for those times when life simply doesn’t make sense, which for many of us, is more often than not. Mullins died unexpectedly in 1997, and this was one of a handful of songs sung at his memorial service.
“Jesus, He Loves Me” by Edwin McCain
Soulful, simple and sung unforgettably by acoustic folk-rocker Edwin McCain, this Jesus song marries the Sunday School song “Jesus Loves Me” with echoes of the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson – all in McCain’s signature style. You’ll find it on the Jesus: The Miniseries soundtrack.
“Sing to Jesus” by Fernando Ortega
From the 2006 album Shadow of Your Wings: Sacred Hymns & Songs, while melodically on the melancholy side, is one of the most moving modern hymns of our day, portraying the heart of Easter’s true story as a call and response for believers to “sing for the love our God has shown.”
“Jesus Medley: I Love Jesus/I Love the Lord/Bless the Wonderful Name of Jesus” by Donnie McClurkin
From his 2007 Essentials collection, nobody out-celebrates Jesus in this triple set from the incomparable Donnie McClurkin. There’s simply no way to listen and not be moved.
Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite Jesus song? Tell us why.
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