Top 5 Inspirational/Spiritual Songs

I haven’t made one of my Top 5 lists for a while. It is a common occurrence in our household a la High Fidelity. In light of yesterday’s post I thought I would post my Top 5 Inspirational/ Spiritual songs, songs that definitely make me feel there is some kind of higher power.

You can’t go past Amazing Grace by Aretha Franklin, released in 1972.

This song inspires me regularly to act with grace and boy, oh, boy – those high notes. You could rule the world if you could hit high notes like that.

Check out this amazing version here.

In 1970 Simon & Garfunkel released the much-covered Bridge Over Troubled Water from the album of the same name.

I find this song lyrically, to be just beautiful. The version I have included is with the fabulous Luther Vandross and Jennifer Holliday. Poor Paul Simon looks a little out of place, but hey, he’s the songwriter. He can hold his head up with anyone!

Another song I find inspiring is a hymn. It’s William Blake’s Jerusalem. And I think this is one of the most stirring melodies ever written. It just makes me think of England every time I hear it.

It was released on Billy Bragg’s 1990 album The Internationale. It is such a pure version of the song. I think Bragg really captured the essence of it. I saw him perform it in Sydney about ten years ago and the entire audience was awestruck.

Not the greatest vid in the world, though.

And I just can’t go past the fabulous Carter family singing Will The Circle Be Unbroken (with Johnny Cash). This is a traditional folk song that is just so uplifting. I love it.

And finally, I know it’s been flogged and flogged but when thinking of songs on this theme, you can’t go past Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as sung by Jeff Buckley.

The poetry in this song makes me shiver –

” There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah…”

So that’s my Top 5 Inspirational/Spiritual songs.
I’d love to hear yours.

29 thoughts on “Top 5 Inspirational/Spiritual Songs

  1. Out of your choices I love Bridge over Troubled Waters and Hallelujah the best. Did you ever see Damien Leith singing Hallelujah on Australian Idol? He has such a haunting voice and did a wonderful version. There would probably be a youtube of it somewhere if you want to check it out.

    I love He Aint Heavy by The Hollies but I don’t know if that would be described as a spiritual song.


  2. GYPSY – I met Damien Leith not long ago. He lives near me. A very nice guy. I did see him sing it on Idol because ‘surprise, surprise’ I am an Idol nut. I have now recovered from all the stresses and strains of watching American Idol on Foxtel (thankfully, my favourite won), so I am all geared up for this season of Aussie Idol. And yes, ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ is also a beautiful song. Love it!


  3. How fitting you should include an ‘inspirational’ song by that Pommie socialist, Billy Bragg. You really like to stir things up, don’t you?


  4. MEL – just watch it, luvvie. Mr. Bragg is a very fine fellow as you well know. And you know how fond I am of William Blake. Behave yourself or I will tell everyone how naughty you were on your date.


  5. I love this list. Jeff Buckley wins for me. That song. I just love it. And to think of how he died and that there was possibly a curse on his family, just freaks me out. He sang like an angel and was taken from us too soon.


  6. CHELSEA – I know how much you love Jeff Buckley. And it is a shame he died so young. I heard there was a movie in the works about his life and that family curse. I’ll need to find out when it’s coming out.

    RICK – hey man, what’s up? Aretha rules. No doubt in my mind. My fave album? Aretha Sings The Blues. It’s brilliant.


  7. Amazing Grace and Bridge Over Troubled Water would definitely be up there. (I don’t know the other three)

    I love Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” too.

    I have a really hard time narrowing music down into any kind of “only 5” list.


  8. Bridge Over Troubled Water is one of my FAVORITE songs of all times. The lyrics are so powerful. Its been my song dedicated to my little brother since I was 13 and he was 11.


  9. Ooh, Bridge, Hallelujah, and Jerusalem are three of my favorites.
    Good choices, and um, HEY! HOW’D THAT DATE GO, MEL????

    oops, pardon… not that I’m NOSEY or anything… ok, well, I am, but, uh, good song choices, Selma. I’m in a much better mood now, thanks to you.


  10. When I wonder if there’s a higher power I just ask myself why the sun comes up every morning. That’s a philosophical/theological discussion and I pretty much flopped at that on your last post.

    What songs inspire me? Sorry, I’m an album oriented individual, and the list is a very long one. That is, the list of albums that inspire me. “Inspire me to do what?”, you ask.

    I don’t know. They just inspire me.

    Okay, that was a little lame.


  11. For me, I’m more familiar with newer music and so, I have three tracks that truly inspire me.

    The first two were from Prince of Egypt and are:
    Boyz II Men – I Will Get There
    Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston – When You Believe (What a combo!)

    The other track that inspires me is a collaboration by Brian McKnight, CeCe Winans and Joe. It’s called BeBe Winans – Coming Back Home

    They’re all such beautiful songs that really make the day seem brighter.


  12. BRITT – ‘You Raise Me Up’ is a lovely song too. It is really hard to narrow the list down to 5. We play this game all the time at home. Actually, I think it shows we don’t get out much and spend far too much time talking about music. Ha ha.

    MELEAH – a song guaranteed to make me cry every time. It is just so moving. I am really touched you have dedicated that song to your little brother. You couldn’t have picked a better one. Awww, that has made me feel all teary.

    KAREN – I am preparing a post on that very subject right now. Let’s just say it went better than I could have imagined. You just never know how things are going to turn out. I was sure it would be a fizzer, but then I am cynical like that. My Mum always says to me: ‘Stop preparing yourself for the worst.’ Oh, and glad you liked the songs.

    RWHACKMAN – you may think your comment is lame but I beg to differ. What you just said about the sun coming up every morning is spirituality in a nutshell, right there. Thank you so much. That is brilliant. Oh, and we do Top 5 albums too, usually broken down into years – Top 5 of 1970, etc. It gets very heated. That’s why I tend to stick to individual songs: it’s a little easier to compile the lists.


  13. R&B FAN – thanks so much for visiting. All the songs you mention are fantastic. I particularly like the Whitney & Mariah one – boy can they sing! I am also a huge fan of BeBe Winans. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard any of the stuff he’s done with his brothers – it’s very gospel-oriented – but it is incredible. When you hear them sing, your spirit soars. I really appreciate your comment and for alerting us to even more wonderful inspirational songs.


  14. There’s a song we sing at Mass sometimes which has the words, “…And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
    I also adore a song by Kodac Harrison
    It’s called “We Fly”, and he wrote it to memorialize those who died on Sept. 11th, 2001, but I feel it resonates on many levels. With lines like “Fly with me, take my hand, and fly with me…Leave this world behind, say goodbye… Flyyyy…”
    I told him how lovely this song is, and he recently recorded it. I defintely want it played at my funeral. Which hopefully is a long ways off.
    Check it out sometime. You’ll be amazed.


  15. LISA – I am going to go and listen to that song right now. I know ‘They’ll know we are Christians…’, I used to sing it in the Church choir. It seems like a lifetime ago.


  16. I love love love love Leonard Cohen. One of my favourite cover’s is Antony’s If It Be Your Will. I think Mr. Cohen is spiritual.

    Bridge Over Trouble Water is a great choice too. Talking with the Taxman About Poetry is one of my desert island albums.

    My other spirituals (not thinking too hard about it.)
    Run to the Water, Live
    Long Road, Pearl Jam
    One, U2 (rather typical — sorry)
    Anthem, Leonard Cohen.


  17. NAT – don’t get me started on Leonard Cohen. My devotion is fanatical. I borrowed a book of his poetry from the local library and have since tried to buy it only to be told it’s out of print. Now I am actually toying with the idea of borrowing it again and saying I lost it. Not technically stealing it, right? Your list is fabulous. I wish I’d thought of all of those. Wonderful, wonderful songs.


  18. “Behave yourself or I will tell everyone how naughty you were on your date.”


    [tattle] She’s still not behaving Selma! You have to tell now! [/tattle]


  19. DAOINE – don’t worry, I’m going to tell all right. But I’ll have to clean it up first. No really, it’s true. I’m too old for these types of goings-on. I just want a quiet life, you know? Hahaha. I’m going to have so much fun dragging this out. What a horrible friend I am……


  20. I meant to add that Bridge Over Troubled Waters is a great choice, too. And has anyone considered Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock”? The irony of the song is found in the last lines”…And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.”(at least, I THINK those are the last lines)


  21. LISA – I am a big fan of most of Paul Simon’s work. A quintessential songwriter. ‘I Am A Rock’ is definitely an inspirational song.


  22. Love your choice of songs, really beautiful. My fav is Bridge over troubled waters, have never heard that version before, but is so beautiful, thanks for sharing and giving those who haven’t heard it a chance to. Your blog is among the best on the web I feel. Its on my favourites list so can check back on it and keep up to date with it.


  23. Van Morrison, “No guru, no method, no teacher.”
    The Clash, “That’s Entertainment.
    Sid Vicious, “My Way.”
    Bob Dylan, “Visions of Johanna.”
    The Wiggles, “Wake up, Jeff.”


  24. If a song give me goosebumps, it’s a pretty amazing song. Amazing Grace by JUDY COLLINS does that. It was recorded in 1970 at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University with the huge choir joining in…
    Aside from that, I’d say the most lyrically beautiful song I know is “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell.


  25. TIMOTEO:
    I haven’t heard that Judy Collins one but I’ll try and track it down. I love
    ‘The Circle Game.’ One of the best songs ever written!


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