Sacred Song Delights

Singing is one of life’s great joys and a natural transmitter of Spirit. Here are some favorites from my ever-growing list of sacred songs that have delighted, inspired, and lifted me along the way. This collection reflects a range of faith traditions, and also includes songs that may appeal to those who identify as spiritual-but-not-religious.


1.  BREATHS  – “Listen more often to things than to beings; ’tis the ancestors’ breath when the fire’s voice is heard”  (by Ysaye M. Barnwell, sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock)

2.  DA PACEM DOMINE  – “Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris” – tr.: “Give peace, O Lord, in our time”  (by Melchior Franck, sung by ChildrenSong)

3.  DOOR OF MY HEART – “Wilt Thou come, wilt Thou come, oh dear Lord come to me”  (Bengali Chant tr. Paramhansa Yogananda, sung by Swami Kriyananda)

4.  ELI, ELI (“MY GOD, MY GOD”) – “I pray that these things never end: the sand and the sea, the rush of the waters, the crash of the heavens, the prayer of the heart”  (lyrics by Hannah Szenes, music by David Zehavi, sung by Susan Salidor)

5.  HALLELUJAH – “Every time I feel this way, that old familiar sinking, I will lay my troubles down by the water where the river will never run dry” (written and sung by MaMuse)

6.  LAY DOWN YOUR BURDEN  – “Place the light before you, come through the door, the dragon doesn’t live here anymore”  (music by Colleen Crangle, Marilyn Wetzler and Susan Osborn; lyrics by Colleen Crangle, sung by Susan Osborn with the Paul Winter Consort)

7.  MAY THE LONGTIME SUN SHINE UPON YOU – “May the pure light within you guide your way on” (lyrics by The Incredible String Band, as sung by Snatam Kaur)

8.  MAY THE ROAD RISE TO MEET YOU  – “May the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall softly on your fields”  (Celtic blessing, sung by David Lakel)

9.  MI SHEBEIRACH  – “May the source of strength, who blessed the ones before us, help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing”  (lyrics based upon a Hebrew prayer for healing; song written and sung by Debbie Friedman)

10.  PEACE I ASK OF THEE O RIVER  – “From the hills I gather courage, visions of a day to be”  (a classic Girl Scouts campfire song by Glendora Gosling and Viola Wood, sung by Melinda Caroll) 

11.  PERFECT LIGHT  – “Though my soul may set in  darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”  (lyrics by Sarah Williams, music by Joseph Haydn, sung by Azmonder)

12.  POLESTAR – “I have made Thee polestar of my life; though my sea is dark and my stars are gone, still I see the path through Thy mercy” (by Paramahansa Yogananda, sung by Jeremy Jones)

13.  RETURN AGAIN  – “Return to who you are, return to what you are … return to the land of your soul”  (by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, sung by Shaina Noll)

14.  RISE UP O FLAME  – “By thy light glowing, show to us beauty, vision and joy”  (by Christoph Praetorius, sung by Evergreen Community Chorus) 

15.  SH’MA  – “Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad”  (trans. “Hear oh Israel, the Lord is our God, The Lord is one”)  (one of the most central Jewish prayers, lyrics from the Torah, sung by Barry and Batya Segal)

16.  SHENANDOAH  –  “Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you, away you rolling river”  (traditional, sung by Sissel Kyrkjebø)

17.  SWEET SURRENDER  – “We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love light of the One”  (author unknown, sung by Rainbow Spirit Oregon)

18.  THE OCEAN REFUSES NO RIVER  – “The open heart refuses no part of you, no part of me”  (by Lorna Flood, singer unknown)

19.  WE ARE  – “For each child that’s born, a morning star rises and sings to the Universe who we are”  (Ysaye M. Barnwell, sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock)

20.  YONDER COME DAY  – “Day is ‘a breakin’, sun is a’risin’ in my soul”  (African American spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands; this version by the Georgia Sea Island Singers reflects the song’s roots in Gullah culture)


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