I know it’s a day late, but celebrating St. Patrick’s Day made me think about my all-time favorite rock band (who just happens to be Irish) U2. And since lately, as a result of the liturgical season of Lent, I seem to also be on a kick of blogging about spirituality, I thought I would also tailor today’s playlist to that theme.
I had to narrow it down somehow; otherwise the name of today’s meme would have to be changed to “Fifty on Friday”.
So let’s go through this song by song:
Gloria – From all the way back in 1981; the second single from their second album, October. The chorus features the Latin phrase “Gloria in te Domine / Gloria exultate” – which translates to “Glory in you, Lord / Glory, exalt [him]” which is a reference to Psalm 30:2. The lyrics also allude to both Colossians 2:9-10 (“Only in You I’m complete”) and James 5:7-9 (“The door is open / You’re standing there”). It doesn’t get much more blatantly spiritual than that.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The band refers to this track from the Joshua Tree album as their “gospel song”. It was inspired by American Gospel music and the lyrics vividly describe a sense of spiritual yearning. During concerts Bono sometimes introduces it as “A kind of Gospel song with a restless spirit” and has described it as “an anthem of doubt more than faith”. And for the record, any Christian who denies ever feeling this way is lying.
Until the End of the World – fast forward to 1991 from one of my favorite U2 albums, Achtung Baby. I loved this song from the first time I listened to it, but it wasn’t until later that I realized that it was written from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. The verses progress from the Last Supper (“We ate the food, we drank the wine, everybody having a good time – Except you – You were talking about the end of the world”) to the Garden of Gethsemane to Judas’ eventual suicide. It is a beautifully written adaptation of this biblical account.
Grace – Bono refers to it as “she” in the lyrics, so if you’re not paying attention you might think that the song was about a girl – but it’s not. “What once was hurt / What once was friction / What left a mark / No longer stings / Because grace makes beauty out of ugly things.” As a United Methodist, this one is pretty close to my heart.
40 – The lyrics are a translation of Psalm 40. (One of my favorite Psalms, by the way.) This is one of U2’s most obvious biblically based songs. Live versions still give me chills. “I will sing – sing a new song!”