The ideal Easter playlist: the story behind the songs 'Jesus' (2023)

Easter is approaching, and what better time than to relax with some songs that have the word 'Jesus' in the title? Especially since titles and lyrics often hide meanings that may surprise you...

Easter is approaching, and what better time than to relax with some songs that have the word 'Jesus' in the title?

A far-fetched exercise perhaps, but this would be ideal listening on this holiest holiday – especially as the titles and lyrics often hide meanings that might surprise you.

To be clear - this is not an exercise in belittling people's belief systems; just diving into certain songs that aren't quite what they seem at first. And before anyone gets upset, let's not forget that the fact that we humans have a sense of humor should mean that God and Jesus do too. After all, being made in His image strongly suggests that we share similar traits.

Depeche Mode - 'Personal Jesus'

Your personal Jesus
Someone who will hear your prayers
Someone who cares

Well, we had to start with the obvious, but it remains a classic.

In 1989, Depeche Mode released this single from their then-upcoming album 'Violator', which later became a fan favourite. At the time, the band's label, Mute, placed personal ads in local newspapers with the words "YOUR PERSONAL JESUS" and a phone number. Whoever decided to answer could hear a new song.

While many consider the song to be about the commercialization of religion, lead songwriter Martin Gore explained in a 1990 interview with Spin that it wasn't about that at all. The lyrics actually referred to Priscilla Presley's autobiography, 'Elvis And Me'.

"It's a song about being Jesus for someone else, someone who will give you hope and care," Gore said. “This is about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everyone's heart is like a god in some way, and that's not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”

(Video) Gaither - Easter Marathon 2022

The song often tops Depeche Mode's greatest hits lists and has been covered many times, including by Johnny Cash in 2022 on his album 'American IV: The Man Comes Around' and by Marilyn Manson in 2004. In 2008, Hilary Duff based her song 'Reach Out' to 'Personal Jesus', changing the lyrics to "Reach out and touch me."

Cheeky tramp.

Tom Waits - 'Chocolate Jesus'

Well, I don't go to church on Sundays
Don't kneel to pray for me
Do not memorize the books of the Bible
I have my own special way

I know Jesus loves me
Maybe just a little more
I fall on my knees every Sunday
In Zerelda Lee's pastry shop

A personal favorite, this one…

For the pagans among you, Chocolate Jesus refers to the chocolate sculptures of Richard Manderson who in 1994 created a series of small chocolate Jesuses filled with raspberry fondant that were sold to visitors to Australia's cultural centre, the Gorman House Arts Center in Canberra. American newspapers condemned his act of portraying Jesus on chocolate, and in response Manderson brilliantly decided to create a real life-size chocolate Jesus, which he called "Trans-substantiation 2". The piece went on public display around Easter 1994, and Manderson invited the public to come and partake of his flawless confection.

There is Tom Waits, who five years later released the song 'Chocolate Jesus' on his Grammy-winning album 'Mule Variations'. (If you haven't had that pleasure, discard this article immediately and let them listen to you.)

The lyrics describe a boy who goes to a candy store every Sunday to get his fill of chocolate Jesus.

Waits said he wasn't inspired to write this song after learning about Manderson's work, but Testamints, a candy with a cross and Bible verse embossed on the cover.

(Video) Jesus' Sacrifice + More of the Easter Story | Stories of the Bible

"My father-in-law was trying to get me interested in this business venture - these things called Testaments," he said in a 1999 interview on the David Letterman Show, weaving another of his stories. "They're these little lozenges with little crosses on them. If you're on the road, or something, and you can't worship the way you're used to, or it's during the week, you can take one of these little Testaments, and in a way you puts you in touch with your higher power.”

The song is essentially a playful jab at those who use religion only as a feel-good mechanism, comparing those who hypocritically practice biblical cherry-picking just for the superficial rush of conscience-clearing to the endorphins released in the brain when addicted kids get their sugar high. Faith then ceases to be about faith, and more about the evils that many do in the name of religion.

My sweet Lord…

George Michael - 'Jesus Child'

And what I learned
From all this pain
I thought I would never feel the same
About anyone
Or anything again

This one is not what it seems either.

Undoubtedly one of the late artist's most poignant and beautiful songs, 'Jesus to a Child' is a personal tribute to George Michael's grief after the loss of his first love, Anselmo Felepp.

He met Feleppa while performing in Rio de Janeiro in 1991 and later said that "he was the first love of my whole life".

"I was happier than ever. Fame, money, everything just pales in comparison."

(Video) Top Praise and Worship Songs 2023 Playlist - Nonstop Christian Gospel Songs

Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain hemorrhage in 1993, and given that Michael was not gay by the time the song was released in 1996, many interpreted the song as an ode to faith. Oh, the irony, given the contemptuous attitudes of most organized religions toward any deviation from heteronormativity.

'Jesus to a Child' became George's first solo single to reach number one in the UK charts. Until his death in 2016, the artist would dedicate the song to Felepa when he performed it live. After his death, the founder of UK charity Childline, Dame Esther Rantzen, revealed that all royalties from 'Jesus to a Child' were secretly donated to a charity that provides counseling services to children and teenagers going through difficult times.

Now try to listen to that song and not shed a tear.

Nirvana - 'Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam'

Jesus, you don't want me for a single ray of sunlight
Sunbeams were never made like me
Don't expect me to cry
For all the reasons you had to die
Never ask me for your love

Originally recorded by Scottish group The Vaselines, this song is better known for its cover by Nirvana, who changed the original title from 'Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam' to 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam'.

Vaseline conceived the song as a parody of the Christian children's hymn 'I'll Be a Sunbeam', and Nirvana's version seems to have taken that baton and run with it, given that Kurt Cobain and the band were outspoken about homophobia and sexism . Cobain even said he wished he was gay just to piss off homophobes, and he often wore dresses to protest sexism.

"Wearing a dress shows that I can be as feminine as I want to be," he told the LA Times, taking a hard look at the macho undercurrent he detested in the rock scene. "I'm straight... big deal. But if I was gay, it wouldn't matter either."

He also admitted to writing a "God is gay" concern in his hometown of Aberdeen, and has repeatedly stated that he has no time for any form of apathetic behavior.

"I am appalled at what we allow to happen, how spineless, lethargic and guilty we are of not standing up to racism, sexism and all the other 'isms' that the counterculture has been whining about for years while they sit and impose these same views every night on their televisions and in their magazines ."

For Nirvana, 'Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam' was a song about rejecting a hypocritical belief system that doesn't celebrate the tolerance it preaches. For the sun's rays "were never made like me."

(Video) Katy Nichole - "In Jesus Name (God of Possible)" (Official Music Video)

The Flaming Lips - 'Jesus Shootin' Heroin'

Before you dismiss the inclusion of this song as childish provocation, consider the stories behind the previous songs and open your mind (and ears) to this one.

Let's start with the lyrics:

Well, I never understood religions
Except it seems like a good reason to kill
Everyone has their own ideas
And you know, they always will
I have needles under my skin these days
Jesus shoots heroin

If priests are at your party
And you play cards that are numbered
And you have no reason to think that
Until your chances are revealed
Tell me what I have to believe
Jesus shoots heroin

Police in New York
Chased the boy, straight through the park
In case of mistaken identities
They put a bullet through his heart

I met Mary, at the corner with the street light
She asked me if I would come to her room
I told her I had no money
She said she had to leave very soon
I decided to go in
Jesus shoots heroin

Taken from The Flaming Lips' 1986 debut album 'Hear It Is', the song is less about comparing religion to drugs and more about the corruption of religion and how frustration prevails when society remains complacent in the face of suffering. This could be read as a pessimistic statement claiming that even Jesus would jump given the current state of the world. Your call.

However you choose to interpret it, frontman Wayne Coyne has kept a healthy sense of humor and distance from 'Jesus Shootin' Heroin', telling Red Bull Music Academy 2017: "I think we wanted to look menacing and deep and represent some dark, an unspeakable version of life in the Bible Belt or something. (…) It's just such a weird, weird song and I could understand why people would think there's something wrong and that we're weird and we're all pretentious at the same time."

Whether pretentious or weird, it's an underappreciated song that deserves - like its predecessors - to be included in your Easter playlist.

If you're hungry for more, check it outour ultimate guide to Easter culturefor the ideal book, series, movie and recipe for this holiest holiday.

(Video) Charity Gayle - Thank You Jesus for the Blood (Live)


What is the most popular Easter hymn? ›

'Christ the Lord is risen today' is possibly the best known and best loved Easter hymn, not least because of its exuberant 'Alleluya! ' at the end of each line.

What is the story of Easter song? ›

"Easter Song" is a song written by Annie Herring of the Jesus music group the 2nd Chapter of Acts that tells of Jesus Christ's resurrection and the elation Christians feel about this resurrection on Easter. It was first recorded in 1974 and released on the band's debut album, With Footnotes.

What songs are played at Easter? ›

Easter music: the 14 greatest classical pieces
  • St. John Passion – Bach. ...
  • St. Matthew Passion – Bach. ...
  • Messiah – Handel. ...
  • Amazing Grace – John Newton. ...
  • Symphony No. ...
  • How Great Thou Art – Carl Boberg. ...
  • Miserere – Allegri. ...
  • Russian Easter Festival Overture – Rimsky-Korsakov.
Apr 18, 2019

What do you sing at Easter? ›

Hymns are religious songs that focus on praising God and celebrating His love. Familiar Easter hymns include "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," "The Old Rugged Cross," and "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." These hymns evoke feelings of joy and hope, and they are often sung in churches or even at home.

Which hymn is stand up for Jesus? ›

"Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" is an American Christian hymn. It was written by George Duffield Jr. in 1858 and is based on the dying words of Dudley Atkins Tyng. The traditional tune "Webb" was composed by George James Webb, and the lesser-used tune "Geibel" was composed by Adam Geibel.

What is the oldest common hymn? ›

The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It's the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old. The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians' goddess of the orchards Nikkal.

What is the main message of Easter? ›

Easter is the Christian holiday celebrating the Resurrection, or bringing back to life, of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. In Christian tradition, the Resurrection represents Christ's victory over death and the promise of eternal life for those who follow him.

What is the biblical story of Easter Sunday? ›

The Easter story is at the heart of Christianity

On the following Sunday, some women visited the grave and found that the stone had been moved, and that the tomb was empty. Jesus himself was seen that day, and for days afterwards by many people. His followers realised that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

What is the traditional Easter message? ›

The greeting and reply are: Christ is Risen! – Truly He is Risen! In the original language, Greek: Χριστός ἀνέστη!

What is the most popular Easter sweet? ›

  • New data from Instacart reveals the most popular candies for the 2022 Easter season across the US.
  • The list is unsurprisingly dominated by chocolate, with jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps also making appearances.
  • Reese's peanut butter eggs claimed the top spot in 30 of 50 US states.
Apr 9, 2023

Is Easter a sad or happy festival? ›

Easter is celebrated as a joyous occasion and the Sunday prior is called Palm Sunday which marks the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.

What are the two types of Easter? ›

Easter continues to be celebrated on two different dates depending on which church you belong to. The Orthodox Easter now falls anywhere between April 4 and May 8 and the Catholic Easter falls anywhere between March 22 and April 25. In rare instances, the dates align, and Easter is celebrated simultaneously.

What are 3 Easter traditions? ›

Easter traditions include sunrise services or late-night vigils, exclamations and exchanges of Paschal greetings, flowering the cross, the wearing of Easter bonnets by women, clipping the church, and the decoration and the communal breaking of Easter eggs (a symbol of the empty tomb).

Why is Jesus Easter Bunny? ›

And what do they have to do with the resurrection of Jesus? Well, nothing. Bunnies, eggs, Easter gifts and fluffy, yellow chicks in gardening hats all stem from pagan roots. They were incorporated into the celebration of Easter separately from the Christian tradition of honoring the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

What are 3 ways Easter is celebrated? ›

People celebrate Easter in various ways, including attending church services, exchanging gifts, enjoying festive meals with family and friends, and participating in Easter egg hunts. Easter fancy costumes are a popular tradition that adds a touch of whimsy and fun to the holiday.

Which hymn speaks of God as holy? ›

Lord God Almighty!" is a Christian hymn written by the Anglican bishop Reginald Heber (1783–1826). "Holy, Holy, Holy!

What is the hymn sung by Mary the Mother of Jesus called? ›

Magnificat, also called Canticle of Mary or Ode of the Theotokos, in Christianity, the hymn of praise by Mary, the mother of Jesus, found in Luke 1:46–55.

What type of song is when Jesus wept? ›

Jesus Wept
GenreHip hop psychedelic pop
LabelGee Street
ProducerEric Kupper
5 more rows

What was the 1st song ever made? ›

Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world's earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman's gravesite in Turkey.

What is the oldest spiritual song? ›

The Phos Hilaron and the Oxyrhynchus hymn constitute the earliest extant Christian Greek hymn texts reasonably certain to have been used in Christian worship, but are neither drawn from the Bible nor modeled on Biblical passages.

What's the most popular song in the world? ›

"Blinding Lights" by the Weeknd is the most-streamed song on Spotify, with over 3.6 billion streams.

What is the most popular hymn ever written? ›

1. 'Amazing Grace'. Published in 1779, this is one of the best-known hymns in the English language, with words by John Newton. Newton became curate of the small parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire (not far north of the modern town of Milton Keynes) and wrote 'Amazing Grace' to illustrate a sermon on New Year's Day 1773.

What is the very significant hymn called that is sung during the Easter Vigil? ›

It is quite possible that the earliest of these Easter Proclamations were improvised, but by the Middle Ages the text we now know as the Exsultet became the standard hymn for the Easter Vigil in the West.

What hymns are sung on Easter? ›

Top 15 Easter Hymns and Worship Songs to Celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • 15 Easter Hymns & Worship Songs. Easter is the celebration of eternal life in Jesus by faith. ...
  • He Arose. Refrain: ...
  • See A Victory. Refrain: ...
  • Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) ...
  • King of My Heart. ...
  • In The Garden. ...
  • Jesus Paid It All. ...
  • In Christ Alone.
Mar 30, 2021

What are some of the old Easter hymns? ›

25+ Easter Hymns That Celebrate the Resurrection
  • Crown Him with Many Crowns. Crown Him the Lord of Heav'n. ...
  • Easter 'Hallelujah' Three days went by again they came. ...
  • Forever. The moon and stars they wept. ...
  • God So Loved the World. ...
  • He Arose. ...
  • How Deep the Father's Love for Us. ...
  • In Christ Alone. ...
  • In the Garden.
Mar 27, 2020

What are the most beautiful hymns in the world? ›

21 Best Hymns of All Time
  • To God Be The Glory.
  • When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.
  • Blessed Assurance.
  • All Creatures of Our God and King.
  • All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name.
  • Great is Thy Faithfulness.
  • It Is Well With My Soul.
  • Be Thou My Vision.
Mar 14, 2023

What is the most common song sung in the world? ›

Found in the Guinness Book of World Records, the happy birthday song is listed as one of the most commonly sung songs.

What does Alleluia mean for Easter? ›

The Alleluia is the third great symbol of the Easter liturgy. Different than light and water, Alleluia comes from our voices. Our joy in the promise of New Life comes from within ourselves and we ring out Alleluia, (in Hebrew 'praise the Lord').

What are the 4 parts of the Easter Vigil and what they mean? ›

The service normally consists of four parts: The Service of Light. The Service of Lessons. Christian Initiation, or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows. The Holy Eucharist with the administration of Easter Communion.

What is the oldest church hymn? ›

The Oxyrhynchus hymn (or P. Oxy. XV 1786) is the earliest known manuscript of a Christian Greek hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation.

What is the exalted song for Easter? ›

The Exsultet (spelled in pre-1920 editions of the Roman Missal as Exultet), also known as the Easter Proclamation (Latin: Praeconium Paschale), is a lengthy sung proclamation delivered before the paschal candle, ideally by a deacon, during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass.

What is the classic Easter Scripture? ›

Luke 24:34: "The Lord is risen indeed!" 1 Corinthians 15:4: "He was buried, [and] he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." Acts 4:33: "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all."

What is the hymn about Jesus rising from the dead? ›

Up From the Grave He Arose

Also known as “Christ Arose” and “Low in the Grave He Lay,” the song is popular for its jubilant refrain which exclaims “Up from the grave He arose / With a mighty triumph o'er His foes.” This is one of two Easter hymns on this list written by Robert Lowry in the 1800's.

What is the oldest hymn to Mary? ›

Beneath Thy Protection (Ancient Greek: Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν; Latin: Sub Tuum Præsidium) is an ancient Christian hymn and prayer. It is one of the oldest known Marian prayers and among the most ancient preserved hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary that is still in use.

What hymn is sung after communion? ›

Jesus, May Your Name Be Praised (A Post-Communion Song)


1. O Come to the Altar | Live | Elevation Worship
(Elevation Worship)
2. What A Friend We Have In Jesus | In The Country | Official Music Video | Redeemed Quartet
(Redeemed Quartet)
3. Jeff & Sheri Easter - Over and Over [Official Live Video]
(Gaither Music TV)
4. Just A Little Talk With Jesus | In A Vintage Factory | Official Music Video | Redeemed Quartet
(Redeemed Quartet)
5. Zach Williams, Dolly Parton - There Was Jesus (Official Music Video)
(Zach Williams)
6. More Than Able (feat. Chandler Moore & Tiffany Hudson) | Elevation Worship
(Elevation Worship)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nicola Considine CPA

Last Updated: 11/16/2023

Views: 6325

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nicola Considine CPA

Birthday: 1993-02-26

Address: 3809 Clinton Inlet, East Aleisha, UT 46318-2392

Phone: +2681424145499

Job: Government Technician

Hobby: Calligraphy, Lego building, Worldbuilding, Shooting, Bird watching, Shopping, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Nicola Considine CPA, I am a determined, witty, powerful, brainy, open, smiling, proud person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.