Hosanna! It’s Palm Sunday, the kickoff of Holy Week, a.k.a. Christian Playoff Season. It’s all been building to this, folks.
So obviously, I made a playlist of Christian rock songs for today and the week ahead. Many of them are extremely cheesy, most of them are from the 90s and early aughts, and I love all of them as if they were my dear, sometimes embarrassing children.
A few quick Q&As:
Mary, are you trying to convert me?
Nope! And honestly, if I were, this would be a terrible strategy.
Is this a representative survey of Christian rock of your youth or in general?
This is a representative survey of albums that found their way into my childhood home of pretty religious people who were also a little music nerdy.
Is this music objectively good in any way?
No idea! I think some of it probably is! Who knows?
What’s up with the music videos?
I’ve included them wherever I can because music videos of this genre are so, so good.
I like to think of Palm Sunday as the last big celebration of the miracle of the incarnation of Christ, sort of a mirror of Christmas. It would be really cool to have a chance to see Jesus irl! I’d throw a parade too!
For this day, Audio Adrenaline’s goofy, joyful, ardent energy is perfect. Take two:
This is the day Jesus kicked the money changers out of the temple. Our Lord and Savior, flipping tables! That’s my guy. It’s a good day for songs about capitalist religion and problems in religious power structures.
When you’re in a mosh pit of sweaty teens from Christian households with pent-up frustration, this song is the absolute pinnacle:
The monarchs of calling out messed-up power structures in Christianity, including where Christianity gets tangled up in the U.S. government, are Five Iron Frenzy, who get three slots here because they’re my favorite. Starting with this song, a direct hit on Jerry Falwell/Focus on the Family types:
This video! Your faves could never:
One of my sisters knows all the words to this song, and hearing her spit the lyrics kicks ass. I’m not naming which one because she’d be so mad if she knew I shared this information:
Fuck “prosperity gospel”!
This is the day we associate with passages in the Bible in which Jesus predicts His own death and makes promises for His return.
OK, so this isn’t Christian rock, but I loved this production of Godspell so much, and this song is about this exact moment:
Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.”John 12:35–36 (Message translation)
There’s no reason for this song to be five minutes long, but it’s DC Talk, so I don’t care:
This is the day Judas decides to betray Jesus. A good day to sit with how flawed we are as humans.
Skillet’s first album brings some heat on this theme:
One more, because this album is so weird and so good. Kudos to my brother Ben on both these pulls:
You could sometimes catch this music video on TBN at like, 1 a.m. on a Saturday night after SNL ended. It appears to have been made for approximately $25. The sound quality is terrible but sacrifices must be made:
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”John 13:34–35 (Message translation)
This song is from the 60s; I’m not passing it off as new, but it’s beautiful in any format and this is a lovely cover:
Time to bring back Audio Adrenaline’s unblinking earnestness:
DC Talk does the Risky Business slide back into the playlist, having heard the word “earnest”:
This is a very sweet song about wanting to do the best you can to live in a way that honors God’s love for you:
My sin yelled “Crucify!” / louder than the mob that day:
Flesh and blood / Is it so elemental?
Can you stand the weather if winter lasts forever?
I have no fear of drowning; it’s the breathing that’s taking all this work. (I love this video.)
I text this to Ben every Easter. Only Christian rock gets to be this cheesy. It’s incredible. Looking directly at it is like staring at the sun. It is my favorite way to feel the uninhibited joy of the Resurrection:
Another cover of an older song that will never expire. Listening to this song feels like watching a sunrise:
Hallelujah, You are sufficient.
Featured photo: Rachel Andrew on Flickr.