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Popular songs based on the Bible

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Handel's Messiah consists exclusively of Bible quotations, such as, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

The Lord's Prayer has been set to music by a number of artists and composers. A 1935 setting by Albert Hay Malotte is a familiar and popular staple of the church choir repertoire. It has been recorded in a pop music context by Siouxsie and the Banshees.[1]

"Turn, Turn, Turn" - Pete Seeger (popularized by The Byrds, for whom it was their second #1 hit, was adapted from Ecclesiastes) [1]).

"Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen (refers to King David)[2]

"Hair" - PJ Harvey (relates the story of Samson and Delilah) [3]

"Dead" - The Pixies (tells of King David's love for Bathsheba and murder of Uriah the Hittite) [4]

"The Unicorn" - (words: Shel Silverstein) tells the story of the Great Flood and explains the absence of unicorns from the Ark see:

"Deck of Cards" - (T. Texas Tyler) sung by Tex Ritter (1948)[2]. This tells the (supposedly true) story of a soldier using a deck of cards, which he claims helps him to remember the bible. [3]

"It Ain't Necessarily So," from Porgy and Bess, by George and Ira Gershwin, is a perennial hit and has had numerous recordings. In the opera, it is sung by the villain, Sportin' Life, a character patterned after Cab Calloway's stage persona. The song is sung with sly insinuation: Sportin' Life opines that "The things that you're li'ble to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so," and says that he "just takes that gospel whenever it's poss'ble—but with a grain of salt."

"All you Zombies" by The Hooters. The first lines say it all: "Holy Moses met the Pharaoh / Yeah, he tried to set him straight / Looked him in the eye / Let my people go"


  2. See The 1959 Wink Martindale version was probably one of the worst songs ever to appear in the charts in the early 60's
  3. The following website: cites this as an example of an Urban Legend, which occurs any time the US is at war; particular examples relate to WWII, and the current Afghanistan Conflict; however, the website claims that references to this have been around since 1788

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