Just because it is called “Modern” music doesn’t mean it is void of ancient roots. Let’s take a look at the top five modern tunes with biblical influence:
5. Leonard Cohen-Hallelujah
The word Hallelujah appears countless times in Psalms, including at the end of Psalm 104, which the Jews recite at the end of morning prayers on the first day of the new month which ends “Let sinners cease out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul. Hallelujah.” but the song has an even more literal reference to a story in the bible, that of Kind David. The song’s second verse begins “Your faith was strong but you needed proof, You saw her bathing on the roof, Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you” a reference to 2 Samuel 11:2 “And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house; and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.”
4. The Beastie Boys-Shadrach
In 1981 Michael “Mike D” Diamond (vocals, drums), Adam “MCA” Yauch (vocals, bass) and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, formed the band The Beastie Boys. The novelty of three Caucasian Jewish boys climbing the music charts of the hip-hop world grabbed everyone’s attention. In their song “Shadrach” every chorus ends with the phrase “Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego”, such as “We were just three emcees and were on the go, Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego”. This is a reference to Daniel 1:7 which reads “And the chief of the officers gave names unto them: unto Daniel he gave the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego.”
3. Coolio-Gangster’s Paradise
The famous hip-hop anthem opens with an almost direct line from Psalms. The Song opens “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take a look at my life and realize there’s nothin’ left”. Th opening is a quote from Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”
2. The Byrds-Turn,Turn,Turn (to Everything There Is a Season)
The Byrds hit the rock scene in 1964 and their song “Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There Is a Season)” is almost a word-for-word quote of Ecclesiastes. For instance the first verse goes “A time to be born, a time to die, A time to plant, a time to reap, A time to kill, a time to heal, A time to laugh, a time to weep” which mirrors Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 “ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
The Hassidic reggae star took the world by storm in 2004, and his 2005 single“King Without a Crown” hit the US Top 40. He has been a pop-music icon ever since, having fans of all beliefs singing along, including atheists blasting their radios and hollering “I want Moshiach [The Messiah] now!”. His hit song “Jerusalem” released in 2006 on his second album “Youth” takes its chorus, “Jerusalem, if I forget you, fire not gonna come from me tongue. Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.” is taken almost directly from Psalms 137:5-6 “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.”
Do you have a favorite song with a biblical twist? Share it with us below in the comments section!