Where do you find God in ‘non-religious’ music?


(Or, a list of songs to use with high schoolers on retreat)

From the angsty days of junior high through break-ups and milestones, people turn to music to help process emotions and develop empathy for the human condition. One of the precepts of Ignatian spirituality is that God works through all of those emotions, even the overwrought, melodramatic feelings from 13-year-olds in love. It’s easy to see where God is in music that calls him out by name and echoes in chapels and cathedrals, but surely God and grace are in the music that we consider more “secular.” (The scare quotes are employed to keep the meaning as broad as the reader intends.)


The listeners of America’s “Jesuitical” podcast were asked on Facebook to name “nonreligious” songs where they found God—and they delivered. The suggestions span genres and decades. Some of the connections are obvious from the song’s title (“Hallelujah,” “Rejoice”); others become clearer with a revenant listen (“A Million Reasons”; “Nothing Else Matters”). I thought at least one person was trolling by posting “Never Gonna Give You Up” (see “Rick Rolling”), but upon further review, God’s relentless faithfulness can be found even in this 1980s psalm.

We’ve collected the songs into a Spotify playlist for your prayer and perusal. You can listen below and join the conversation in the comments section at the bottom of this page and in the “Jesuitical” Facebook group.

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