"A List Of (Mostly) Secular Hit Songs With Inspirational, Philosophical, Or Otherwise Unexpected Themes"

(For lack of a better name...)

When I first started putting this page together, it had not occurred to me that the most difficult part of the process would be coming up with a decent title to put at the top.

Having said that, here's a deeper dive into what my thought process had been: Throughout history, there have obviously been a great many songs about God, spirituality, worship, religion, philosophy, prayer, and so forth - but, by and large, the first ones that may come to mind are performances by expected sources, such as gospel and Contemporary Christian acts. At the same time, there are plenty of other tunes that touch upon similar themes, but have actually been sales or airplay hits for secular artists, and/or have been traditionally thought of as secular tunes, in and of themselves. In short, with a few noted exceptions, those are the players and the songs that I am going for here. There are already plenty of existing webpages with similar lists; my goal was to try to get as many of those titles and artists as possible together in the same place.

You'll probably get an even better idea of exactly what this list is about once you have started scrolling, reading, clicking, and listening. You'll also notice that the criteria for inclusion is a bit flexible. Some of the songs here make direct references to God, Jesus, and the Bible in their titles or lyrics, while others deal with more philosophical or existential subject matter in a broader sense. Many of the songs here are simple, straightforward, worshipful, uplifting, and familiar. Several have grown to be accepted as "modern hymns" of sorts, but not necessarily in a more traditional or religious context. A few others play more like songs of protest and doubt, are not as bright and cheery, and may even cause some discomfort to hear. For the sake of completeness, I have chosen to include it all - major and minor hits, good, bad, pleasant and unpleasant.

You have the option of playing any song using an embedded player* in this same page (the first column), or opening the YouTube link in its own browser window (the second column). The year in which the song had charted/was most popular, along with any specific chart ranking, is listed for each song. You'll also see "bonus extras" in some of the entries.
(*Depending on your browser, you may need to click twice on the embedded songs... once to load, and a second time to play. Ahh, technology.)

I hope that you will find browsing through this list to be both entertaining and informative. There is no specific order to the songs. This is far from a comprehensive list, and more titles may be added as I come up with them. If you have any comments or suggestions, or even if you can come up with a page title that is more fitting and less awkward than the current one - by all means, please let me know. - Frank

"Put Your Hand In The Hand" - Ocean (1971)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
If you are destined to be a "one-hit-wonder", here is a textbook example of exactly the kind of hit that you want to have. The only hit single for this Canadian band, this relentlessly catchy bit of pop was one of the biggest overall hits of the year 1971 (the only thing that stopped it from topping the charts that year was the dominance of Three Dog Night's own chart powerhouse, "Joy To The World"). Originally recorded by another superstar from North of the border, Anne Murray.
"Amen", The Impressions (1964)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Originally a traditional gospel song by the Wings Over Jordan Choir dating back to the late 1940s, Curtis Mayfield and company took their own stately performance into the pop Top Ten, as well as to the very top of the Cashbox R&B chart, in early 1965.

Three years later, Otis Redding also scored a Top 40 pop hit with his own version of "Amen". Redding's inimitable rendition, which also includes an interpolation of "This Little Light Of Mine", can be heard here.
"Unanswered Prayers", Garth Brooks (1991)

#1, Billboard Hot Country (U.S.)
The second single from this country superstar's landmark "No Fences" album (which topped the country album chart for over thirty weeks), this stands as one of Garth's most popular recordings of all time. Based on a real-life experience, the lyrics speak of the notion that, oftentimes, not getting what you have asked for in the time frame that you have desired may very well end up being the better result. According to Brooks, "This is probably the truest song I have ever been involved with as a writer. This actually happened to my wife and me when we went back home to Oklahoma. Every time I sing this song, it teaches me the same lesson... happiness isn't getting what you want, it is wanting what you've got."
"Oh Happy Day", The Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969)

#4, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A gospel arrangement of an 18th-century hymn, "Oh Happy Day" holds the unique distinction of having been recorded in a church, that being the Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California. Given the technology and nature of recording devices that had been available at the time, many have noted the unusual clarity and pristine nature of the performance that would become a worldwide hit in the late spring/early summer of 1969. The Hawkins version features influences and improvisations that were inspired by both Sérgio Mendes and James Brown. It has since been covered by hundreds of other artists.

This was the first of two pop chart appearances by The Edwin Hawkins Singers. In the following year, they once again found themselves in the Top Tenas backing vocalists on this hit single by Melanie.
"Counting Blue Cars", Dishwalla (1996)

#15, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The only hit to date for this West Coast alternative rock band, "Counting Blue Cars" set off a bit of a firestorm in some circles, mainly due to the appearance of one word within a single lyric: "Tell me all your thoughts on God/'Cause I'd really like to meet Her". Says lead singer and songwriter J.R. Richards, who penned the tune based on a real-life conversation with a young boy: "From that younger perspective, I think we take things in a much more honest way because we are not being biased by how we're supposed to all think the same. So this idea of God, being an omnipotent being, could be a male or female. We always refer to God as a male, so why not make it a female?... It quickly came together - I didn't think too much about it. But it did end up being one of the songs that really affected people both positively and negatively. I never thought I'd ever have a song I'd get death threats for writing. "
"He's Got The Whole World In His Hands", Laurie London (1958)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Young Laurie, from East London, England, was known for his recordings of novelty and gospel tunes in both English and German. He scored this U.S. chart-topping million seller and a gold record, all at the ripe old age of 14.
"Superstar", Murray Head with The Trinidad Singers (1971)

#14, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
We'll bet that you can name this tune in three notes, thanks largely to the musical craftsmanship of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Tim Rice gets credit for the lyrics of this number, from the "Jesus Christ Superstar" rock opera (where Head played the part of Judas Iscariot).

As song titles go, "Superstar" was a popular choice in 1971. It also appeared on the charts as the title of two different hits by The Carpenters and The Temptations. Additionally, an instrumental version of this "Superstar" by The Assembled Multitude was a minor hit in '71, as part of a medley of themes from the rock opera.
"I Knew Jesus (Before He Was A Star)", Glen Campbell (1973)

#45, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
One of the most beloved and talented musicians of all time, Campbell was raised in the Baptist tradition, and later in his life was also involved with Messianic Judaism. One might consider this song, which just missed the pop Top 40 by a few notches, a response of sorts to the sudden pop culture embracement of all things Jesus that had been taking place in the early 70s; Glen was happy to inform us all that he had already been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt long before, thank you very much.
"I'll Find My Way Home", Jon & Vangelis (1982)

#52, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The duo of Jon Anderson (lead vocalist of the British rock band, Yes) and Greek synth wizard Vangelis (Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou) made some compelling music together throughout a collaboration that spanned a little over a decade and four albums. This single, which attained varying levels of success both here in the U.S. and abroad, features thought-provoking lyrics that leave themselves somewhat open to a variety of philosophical interpretations.
"Speak To The Sky", Rick Springfield (1972)

#14, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Nearly a full decade before he became one of the most prominent hitmakers of the early-to-mid 1980s (and Dr. Noah Drake on TV's "General Hospital"), the Australian-born Richard Lewis Springthorpe scored his first pop success with this lighthearted ditty about prayer.
"Border Song (Holy Moses)", Aretha Franklin (1970)

#37, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This was the first U.S. single to chart for Elton John, although Elton's version had only barely managed to crack the Top 100. Franklin's rendition fared better on the charts, reaching its peak in the Top 40 late in 1970. Co-written by John along with lyricist Bernie Taupin, the song had been inspired by his perceptions of alienation and bigotry that he had experienced in London at the time.
"Jesus Is Love", The Commodores (1980)

#34, Billboard R&B (U.S.)
Showing some serious range (recall, for examples, their earlier chart smashes "Brick House" and "Easy"), this legendary Motown funk/soul group displayed their gospel chops by taking this Lionel Richie-penned single into the R&B Top 40. From the band's eighth studio album, "Heroes", released during the summer of 1980.
"I'd Love To Change The World", Ten Years After (1971)

#40, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The lone Top 40 U.S. hit for this blues/rock band from Nottingham, England, written and sung by guitarist Alvin Lee. The tune tackles some of the hot topics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including economic inequality, overpopulation, pollution, and war. Lee had been quoted in interviews as stating that the song has lost very little in terms of relevance to the present day.
"A Hundred Pounds Of Clay", Gene McDaniels (1961)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A seemingly innocuous tune that, essentially, tells a tale of God's creation of the human race, this hit song has also been the subject of controversy on a couple of different fronts. The BBC had actually once banned the song from its airwaves - not due to its religious overtones, but because of a perceived sexual objectification of women. Others have questioned whether the lyrical content of the tune is consistent with what actually appears in the Bible (for example, one such discussion can be found here). In spite of the quibbling, the record became a pretty massive success, scoring high on both the Pop and R&B charts.
"Dear Mr. Jesus", PowerSource (1988)

#61, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
One of the decidedly more heart-wrenching entries in this compendium, this was an interesting case of a song by a CCM group crossing over to become a minor pop hit. Sung by Sharon Batts, who was six years old at the time of the recording, the record takes the form of a letter written to Jesus by a child who is trying to comprehend and deal with child abuse. Some pop radio stations around the country (including Z100 in New York) picked up the song and began playing it, which resulted in thousands of listener requests for the song. The resulting demand for the single was undoubtedly far greater than what the small Texas-based band and their tiny record label would have ever been equipped to meet, which may have led to the tune charting much lower than it could have.
"Wedding Song (There Is Love)", Noel Paul Stookey (1971)

#24, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
If you had tied the knot at some point in the early seventies, there's a pretty good chance that this may have been your wedding song. Written by the "Paul" of Peter, Paul & Mary, Stookey first performed the song at the wedding ceremony of his bandmate, Peter Yarrow, two years before the song was released as a single and became a pop hit.

Stookey has credited his composition of the tune to divine inspiration. Lyrically, the song loosely incorporates Matthew 18:20
"Man In The Mirror", Michael Jackson (1988)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
One of two songs on this list to feature the Andraé Crouch Gospel Choir (as well as additional backing vocals by The Winans), this became Jackson's tenth Number One hit, topping the charts for two consecutive weeks. It's considered by many to be among his most powerful recordings, and was accompanied by an equally thought-provoking music video.
"Day By Day", Godspell (1972)

#13, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
From the musical Godspell and featuring uncredited lead singer Robin Lamont, this song is ranked in the top 100 pop songs overall for the year 1972. Its lyrics, in part, can be traced to a prayer ascribed to the 13th-century English bishop, Saint Richard of Chichester.
"We Are The World", U.S.A For Africa (1985)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The ways in which to describe the magnitude of this pop recording - perhaps the most significant musical charity effort ever - are probably far too numerous to list here. It was an international smash that topped the charts in well over a dozen different countries. Over fifty musicians, many of them superstars in their own right, were involved in its production as solo/background musicians or instrumentalists. With over twenty million singles having been sold, it is among the top ten best selling records of all time, and the first to ever be certified as multi-platinum. Originally the brainchild of Harry Belafonte, the words and music of this benefit single for African famine relief were written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
"Part Of The Plan", Dan Fogelberg (1975)

#31, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The opening track of his 1974 "Souvenirs" LP and his first charting hit single (which also featured Graham Nash and Joe Walsh), Fogelberg was a very skilled song craftsman whose lyrics were often centered on deeper or more existential subjects. "Part Of The Plan" is a prime example of how Fogelberg was able to attain catchy pop and folk sensibilities, while also giving the listener something more to ponder
"Shine", Collective Soul (1994)

#11, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
It's entirely possible that some of the nuances of "Shine" might not have ever been fully realized by everyone who has ever heard the song, which is now viewed as sort of an iconic tune in the era of 90s alternative rock and grunge. Dean Roland, the band's rhythm guitarist, has referred to the song's chorus as "basically a prayer" - and some folks had initially believed Collective Soul to be a Christian band, an assertion that its lead singer Ed Roland (the son of a Southern Baptist minister) has denied. In any event, this was a lyrically-uplifting tune that definitely stood out when compared to many of its contemporary hit songs with which it had shared space on the pop charts of the time.
"Open Up Your Heart (And Let The Sunshine In)", Cowboy Church Sunday School (1955)

#8, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Written by Stuart Hamblen, who was one of radio's original "singing cowboys". The record is unusual in that it features the voices of Hamblen's wife and adult daughters, and the single simulates the sounds of children singing when it is played at its normal (45 RPM) speed. Depending on your age, your initial exposure to this tune may not have occurred until about a decade or so after it had been a chart hit - and this is where you might have heard it first.
"Chariots Of Fire", Vangelis (1981)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
As an instrumental, there is no lyrical profundity of which to speak here - but the motion picture for which this majestic and sweeping synthesizer piece served as the main title theme was certainly evocative. "Chariots Of Fire" was a British historical drama film, based on the true story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.
"Are You Ready?", Pacific Gas & Electric (1970)

#14, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A blues-rock band from California, this was by far the biggest hit for PG&E (to which they had been forced to change their name as the result of legal pressure from the utility company of the same name), and it stands as its most well-known recording. It has also been covered by other artists, including The Staple Singers, and Christian recording act DeGarmo And Key. With a decidedly gospel-rock feel, its lyrics pose the question, "Are you ready to sit by His throne?", and also make at least one nod to scripture (for example, Matthew 24:6).
"Eleanor Rigby", The Beatles (1966)

#11, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Featuring three of the four Beatles on vocals, this proved that The Beatles were one of the few groups who could take a rather somber song having themes of desolation, depression, and neglect - set, in part, in a church - and still manage to have a massive hit with it (all without any of them even laying a hand on their own instruments).
"One Of Us", Joan Osborne (1996)

#4, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This was the debut single for Osborne, which made the Top 5 here in the U.S. and was also an international success in over a dozen other countries. Osborne, an American-born singer from Kentucky who is also known for performing in a wide variety of musical genres, poses numerous hypothetical questions about the nature of God throughout the song - which, needless to say, served to stir the pot among certain circles.
"Jesus Is A Soul Man", Lawrence Reynolds (1969)

#28, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
An artist who hailed from near Mobile, Alabama - and there's literally not much else to say about Reynolds, who managed to crack the Top 30 with this laid back, country-gospel flavored, and somewhat obscure single... his one and only record to have ever charted.
"Spirit In The Sky", Norman Greenbaum (1970)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
From New England, Greenbaum scored really big with this ode to the spirit above, which became an AM radio staple in the springtime of '70. Norman would later switch coasts and form a psychedelic jug band known as "Dr. West's Medicine Show And Junk Band". Like, far out, man.
"You Light Up My Life", Debby Boone (1977)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
If you had spent any time at all in 1977 listening to Top 40 radio, you'll recall that this tune was virtually inescapable for a significant portion of that year. It occupied the #1 position for ten consecutive weeks, a record that endured until the early 1990s - and it is also the lone chart hit for the third daughter of 50s legend Pat Boone. Originally written by Joseph Brooks as a love song (which had first been recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the movie soundtrack of a film having the same title), the devout Boone interpreted the song as inspirational, and proclaimed that it was instead God who "lit up her life." By many metrics, based on its chart prowess and the airplay it had once received, "You Light Up My Life" stands as the number one single of the entire 1970s decade.
"Morning Has Broken", Cat Stevens (1972)

#6, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The fourth single for this performer from London who was first known as Steven Georgiou, and later known as Yusef Islam following his religious conversion, "Morning Has Broken" is one of those pop songs that wouldn't sound entirely out of place when played during a church service, since its origins link to the Scottish hymn "Bunessan", as well as "Child In The Manger".
"You Raise Me Up", Josh Groban (2003)

#1, Billboard Adult Contemporary/#73, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This inspirational number has been recorded by numerous acts, and has attained international popularity. Groban's version was produced by David Foster, and also earned him a Grammy nomination.
"My Sweet Lord", George Harrison (1971)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This track represented a lot of firsts for George Harrison. It was Harrison's first solo single, the first single by an ex-Beatle to reach number one - and probably the first time Harrison had found himself in a bit of legal trouble as a direct result of one of his own compositions. That said, its inclusion here is certainly warranted, as "My Sweet Lord" endeavors to point out that words of praise for one's creator - whether they be spoken in English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, or any other tongue - are essentially manifestations of a common sentiment.

It should come as no surprise that, while many people loved and embraced "My Sweet Lord", others of particular faiths took issue with the lyrics of the song. For example, one such point of view can be seen here.
"I Believe", Blessid Union Of Souls (1995)

#8, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This alternative rock band from Cincinnati has been known to incorporate subtle Christian themes into several of their songs. "I Believe" was their highest-charting hit in the U.S., and it was written after lead vocalist Eliot Sloan had been forced to stop dating his girlfriend because of his race. According to Sloan, "When I sing 'Love will find a way,' I mean 'God will find a way'... A lot of people have been in relationships where their parents or their friends didn't want them seeing this other person for whatever reason, whether it was race, religion or background, or whatever. We just really believe that love is the answer to this stuff. Without it trying to sound hokey or whatever that's just the honest to good answer. I'm a witness to that."
"Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)", The Byrds (1965)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
American folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger "wrote" (sort of) and recorded this song himself in the late 1950s. It first appeared in 1962 on an album by the folk group The Limeliters, and then shortly after that on one of Seeger's own releases. About three years later, The Byrds released their own rendition of Seeger's version - which, itself, was little more than a reworking of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Given the time frame in which Ecclesiastes is believed to have been written, of all popular songs that have reached number one to date, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" is most likely the one that contains the oldest lyrics. In addition, it is one of only a handful of charted popular songs whose lyrics consist almost entirely of mostly unadulterated Bible verses.
"Jesus, Take The Wheel", Carrie Underwood (2006)

#1, Billboard Hot Country Songs/#20, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This marked the beginning of a remarkable run for Ms. Underwood, as it became the first of fifteen number one country singles. Around the time of its release, some questions had been raised as to the potential drawbacks of kicking off the young star's career with an overtly faith-oriented song, but clearly, that move has not seemed to negatively impact her in any way. The ballad's lyrics tell the tale of a woman seeking help from Jesus in an emergency, and surrendering control to a higher power. The sheer relatability of this concept to Underwood's audience may very well have been the key to boosting the tune's overall acceptance and popularity.
"Crying In The Chapel", Elvis Presley (1965)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
There is a veritable laundry list of artists who have performed "Crying In The Chapel", written by Artie Glenn and first recorded by his son, Darrell, in 1953. Presley's version stands as the most popular one of all to have made its way onto the pop charts. Just to provide some perspective, this marked the 67th time that Elvis had a Top 40 hit - and he would go on to score nearly fifty more before he left the building.
"Dear God", XTC (1986)

#37, Billboard Album Rock (U.S.)
Another song whose lyrics have been crafted in the form of a letter - in this case, the author being a struggling agnostic who is challenging God about the very nature of God's own existence. Raw, impassioned, brutal, and about as controversial as any song could be, its release provoked threats of violence that were directed at both the band itself and some of the radio stations who chose to play their record. In response, Andy Partridge (the song's writer) stated that he "felt sorry" for whoever he upset, while also noting that, "If you can't have a different opinion without them wanting to firebomb your house, then that's their problem."
"Adam And Eve", Paul Anka (1960)

#90, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Canadian singer, songwriter, actor, and one-time teen idol managed to graze the lower reaches of the pop charts with this single, a rather curious Cliff Notes reading of some of the earlier chapters of Genesis.
"From A Distance", Bette Midler (1990)

#2, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Divine Miss M. wanted to make it perfectly clear that you are being watched - and not necessarily in a bad way. Written by singer/songwriter Julie Gold and recorded by numerous artists, it is Midler's rendition that stands as the most popular version to date.
"Hymn 43", Jethro Tull (1971)

#91, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This track can be found on the British prog rock group's landmark "Aqualung" LP, and its release as a single resulted in a somewhat brief stint in the lower reaches of the Hot 100 - although the tune can still occasionally be heard today on formats that feature legacy rock songs. The song's author, flautist extraordinaire Ian Anderson, has described the song as "a blues for Jesus, about the gory, glory seekers who use His name as an excuse for a lot of unsavoury things."
"Wings Of A Dove", Ferlin Husky (1961)

#12, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Written by American country music songwriter Robert Ferguson, who was instrumental in establishing Nashville as a center of country music. Husky's rendition was successful on both the pop and country charts (where it spent numerous nonconsecutive weeks at Number One). It's also been covered by numerous other recording acts. Lyrically, the song makes reference to a familiar account that can also be found here.
"Bridge Over Troubled Water", Simon & Garfunkel (1970)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Considered by many to be a masterpiece. Penned by Paul Simon and vocalized in spectacular fashion by Art Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is unique in that it is very often interpreted as being a highly spiritual song, without any overt references to God, religion, philosophy, or doctrine. It stands as one of the most often-performed tunes of the 20th century, with known recorded versions by fifty or more other artists.

Simon has attributed parts of the melody of "Bridge" to Bach, and has also noted that his inspiration for the title lyric came from gospel musician Claude Jeter (Simon went so far as to personally compensate Jeter for his passive contribution to the song). The 1958 Swan Silvertones recording that provided the aforementioned inspiration can be heard here.
"Gotta Serve Somebody", Bob Dylan (1979)

#24, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This single, released on Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" album from the roughly two-year span during which he had identified as being born again,won Dylan the 1979 Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male, and is presently his last Top 40 hit to date.
"Land Of Milk And Honey", The Vogues (1966)

#29, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This pop vocal group from the Pittsburgh area managed to score several Top 40 hits in the mid to late 1960s, including "Five O'Clock World", "Turn Around, Look At Me", and others - including this single, which was penned by songwriters John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins of "Son Of A Preacher Man" fame. The lyrics of this somewhat obscure hit seem to speak of growing out of old ways into more desirable new ones, and getting onesself to a better place, in a broad sense. As for the original "land of milk and honey"... that can be found here.
"Kyrie", Mr. Mister (1986)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Yet another popular song that features some rather ancient lyrical references. "Kyrie Eleison", from Greek, translates to "Lord, have mercy", and is one of the most common prayers/phrases to have appeared in the liturgical rites of both Eastern and Western Christianity. Richard Page, the band's bassist, co-wrote the song during one of their concert stints, and Page has described the song itself to have essentially been written as a prayer.
"People Get Ready", The Impressions (1965)

#3, Billboard R&B/#14, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Perhaps the best-known (and most often covered) hit from The Impressions. According to composer Curtis Mayfield: "That was taken from my church, or from the upbringing of messages from the church. Like there's no hiding place and get on board, and images of that sort. I must have been in a very deep mood of that type of religious inspiration when I wrote that song." The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had also once referred to "People Get Ready" as the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement.
"Hallelujah", Leonard Cohen (1984)

#20, Billboard Hot Rock-Alternative Songs/#59, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
"Hallelujah" is perhaps the prototypical case for this particular collection of songs. With over 300 different versions by a multitude of performers, many with lyrical variations and sung in multiple languages, it has gained both pop culture acceptance and worldwide popularity, while becoming what is probably the best example of what could be termed a secular hymn. Cohen himself had written somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 draft verses for the song, the original version of which contains Biblical references to the stories of King David and Bathsheba and Samson and Delilah.
"Pray", M.C. Hammer (1990)

#2, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)/#4, Billboard R&B
Although many primarily remember Stanley Burrell (aka M.C. Hammer, or simply Hammer) for his Top 40 debut, "U Can't Touch This", it is the Oakland, CA rapper's third single that stands as his biggest Hot 100 chart success. Prominently featuring samples of "When Doves Cry" by Prince - who had not often been known to make his own works available for such use - "Pray" holds the record for the most number of song title repetitions in a single Top 40 hit. All in all, the listener is exhorted to pray a total of 147 times by the end of the song.
"I Don't Know How To Love Him", Helen Reddy (1971)

#13, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Another hit song that had originated from "Jesus Christ Superstar", this was Reddy's second single, and her first single to crack the U.S. Top 20. Sung from the point of view of Mary Magdalene about her unrequited love for the title character, a second version of the same song by Yvonne Elliman had also concurrently charted in the Top 40 along with Reddy's rendition.
"Jacob's Ladder", Huey Lewis & The News (1987)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Written by Bruce and John Hornsby for Huey, this became the third chart-topping hit for Lewis and his band. The song tells the tale of the singer essentially trying his best to escape the eager proselytizations of a persistent evangelist, while insisting that he is already doing his best - and evoking the Biblical imagery of Jacob's Ladder.
"Signs", Five Man Electrical Band (1971)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The breakthrough hit for this Canada band, written by frontman Les Emmerson as a commentary on the many billboards that he had encountered while on a road trip through California. The singer describes the exclusionary nature of many of the signs that he had been seeing along the way - until the final verse, where he encounters a much more welcoming sign that had been posted outside of a church. The song would reach the Top Ten once again in a live, early 1990s version by the hard rock band Tesla.
"Do Right", Paul Davis (1980)

#34, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
An American singer/songwriter from Mississippi who was known for his work in the pop, country and soul genres, this single from Davis (who was raised as a preacher's kid) also found success as a Christian Adult Contemporary hit, in addition to cracking the pop Top 40.
"Let It Be", The Beatles (1970)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
For many years since the release of the Fab Four's twelfth and final studio LP, many fans across the world have posed the question, "Who is 'Mother Mary'?" While that inquiry has already been definitively addressed on more than one occasion by the song's author, there are without a doubt still a great many people who will continue to view that lyrical reference in a different context - and, given that the song does at times maintain a very hymn-like feel, this should not necessarily be seen as all that much of a stretch. Nonetheless, to quote Macca:"Mother Mary makes it a quasi-religious thing, so you can take it that way, I don't mind. I'm quite happy if people want to use it to shore up their faith. I have no problem with that. I think it's a great thing to have faith of any sort, particularly in the world we live in."
"I Want To Know What Love Is", Foreigner (1985)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The veteran British-American band and arena rock mainstays have achieved a stunning level of success with this single, by far the biggest one that they have ever recorded. It's popularity has been due in no small part to the efforts of the New Jersey Mass Choir, which had been founded only three years earlier as part of the state chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop Of America. This single also gave the NJMC (who have also recorded their own standalone version) the distinction of being the first gospel choir to back a rock band on a Number One pop hit.
"America the Beautiful", Ray Charles (1972/1976)

#98, Billboard R&B (U.S.)
The peak chart position of this gospel-infused recording by one of the music world's all-time legends is not fully indicative of its true popularity. Ray's version was released during the Bicentennial, where it first came to prominence. The song has periodically experienced stretches of revival, with the most notable example having been in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, during which many radio stations had vastly increased their airplay of patriotic and inspirational tunes.
"Fight The Good Fight", Triumph (1981)

#18, Billboard Mainstream Rock (U.S.)
The hard rock band Triumph was formed in Toronto, Canada in the mid-1970s, and in addition to racking up several moderate chart successes over the course of nearly twenty years, they were also well-known and respected for their strong live performances, especially by the group's many fans in their home country. One can find a great many references to "fighting the good fight" (or variations thereof) throughout scripture. Here's just one example.
"Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show", Neil Diamond (1969)

#22, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Some churchgoing folks in the South took offense with Neil on this one, as they had initially believed the song to be an insult toward or mockery of certain specific religious expressions. Diamond was able to stave off the resulting protests and boycotts of the song by explaining that his true intention had been to record a celebration of Gospel music and the evangelical style of preaching and worship. The song (which includes a brief sermon by Diamond) has also been covered by a diverse group of artists that include Sonny & Cher, Dolly Parton, and Peggy Lee.
"Where The Streets Have No Name", U2 (1987)

#13, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The opening track from the band's "Joshua Tree" album, this stirring and energetic track has often been the topic of discussion in regard to what, exactly, is being referenced by its title. While some have come to their own conclusions about the overall nature of meaning of the entire song, and others consider the title vaguely referential to passages in the book of Revelation, Bono himself has claimed that the song was borne of his own experiences after having visited Ethiopia, and comparing that land to the vastly different social conditions in Belfast, Ireland: "The guy in the song recognizes this contrast and thinks about a world where there aren't such divisions, a place where the streets have no name... Maybe that's the dream of all art: To break down the barriers and the divisions between people, and touch upon the things that matter the most to us all."
"God Only Knows", The Beach Boys (1966)

#39, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
As the saying goes, times have changed, and some things are very different today, compared to how they were in previous eras. In the mid 1960s, it was still considered to be something of a big deal and a bold move for a pop or rock group to release a single that included the word "God" in its title. Program directors of many hit music stations would become skittish and categorically avoid playing such a record on their airwaves, out of concern for negative public feedback. "God Only Knows" was first released as the B-side of the "Wouldn't It Be Nice" 45 here in the U.S., where it only barely managed to crack the Top 40 (in other parts of the world, the song appeared on the plug side of the single, and the song ultimately charted much higher elsewhere). Today, this gem from the iconic "Pet Sounds" album is very highly regarded everywhere as a fan favorite, and one of the band's most enduring love songs. Indeed - times have changed.
"What The World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin And John", Tom Clay (1971)

#8, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Without a doubt, one of the more unusual recordings to become a hit during the summer of '71 (or perhaps ever). Tom Clay had been working as a disc jockey at a California radio station when he created this mostly spoken-word commentary featuring sound bytes of a marching platoon and gunfire sound effects, interspersed with portions of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedys. The record begins and ends in the same manner, with young children being interviewed about how they define the topics of segregation, bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.

The background vocals on Clay's single were provided by The Blackberries, who have also appeared on recordings by Ringo Starr, Humble Pie, and Pink Floyd, among others.
To hear Jackie DeShannon's original hit version of "What The World Needs Now", click here.
To hear Dion's original hit version of "Abraham, Martin, And John", click here.
"God Bless America", Celine Dion (2001)

#14, Billboard Adult Contemporary
Written by Irving Berlin while he was an Armed Forces member during WWI in 1918. Celine performed her version of this American classic during a television special that had aired not long after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The following month, her rendition appeared on a musical benefit album, also titled "God Bless America".

Twenty years after Berlin had first penned it, the song experienced a revival when it was performed by Kate Smith on an Armistice Day broadcast of her radio show. While we have yet to find any instances of her performance appearing on a chart, it goes without saying that Smith's rendition is widely considered to be the definitive version of the song. Smith belts out her signature song here.
"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition", Kay Kyser And His Orchestra (1942)

#1, Billboard
With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, who was also known for his award-winning work on several Broadway musicals, this record sold nearly a half-million copies in only two months, and had been penned as a response to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. It had also become a hit for other acts, including an R&B chart appearance with a version by the gospel group, The Jubalaires
"God, Love And Rock & Roll", Teegarden & Van Winkle (1970)

#22, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A folk rock duo from Detroit (by way of Tulsa), their lone U.S. chart single was an even bigger hit in Canada, where it made the Top 10. Listen closely, and you might hear a little bit of "Amen" in there. Lyrically, the tune was a curious mix of equal parts praise and party.
"Like A Prayer", Madonna (1989)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Controversy, mass appeal, and multiple interpretations all came as part of the package along with the title track of Madonna's fourth studio album, a single that would become her seventh Number One hit in the U.S., as well as a significant success internationally. Perhaps even more eye-raising was the official music video that had accompanied the song's release, which led to religious protestation and boycotts of popular products. The tune incorporates both religious imagery and sexual innuendo, in varying degrees. The Andraé Crouch Gospel Choir provided a notable gospel feel to the recording (Crouch had first closely scrutinized the song and its lyrics before ultimately approving of his own involvement with the project).
"Question", The Moody Blues (1970)

#21, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
From the group that successfully blended rock music with classical flourishes, and also brought a deeper and more philosophical bend to many of their recordings, this English rock band was (finally) inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018. This single was the lead track on their "A Question Of Balance" LP, and as the title suggests, it poses numerous queries, many of which have not been and may never be successfully answered.
"God Bless The U.S.A.", Lee Greenwood (1991)

#7, Billboard Hot Country Songs/#16, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Greenwood's signature song, the country musician wrote it in part because of his feelings about the shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 - and also because, "I've always wanted to write a song about America, and I said we just need to be more united."
"That's The Way God Planned It", Billy Preston (1969)

#62, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
One could refer to the assemblage of musicians that collaborated on this recording as a supergroup... to wit, in addition to Preston on vocals and keyboards: George Harrison and Eric Clapton, electric guitar. Keith Richards, bass. Ginger Baker, drums. Doris Troy and Madeline Bell, backing vocals. The result was a compelling melding of gospel and straight ahead rock. This was the title track of Preston's 1969 LP of the same name, and also his first release on the Apple Records label, immediately following his contributions as a guest performer on "Get Back".
"Jesus Is Just Alright", Doobie Brothers (1972)

#35, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This gospel song, written by Arthur Reid Reynolds, was the second Top 40 single for the West Coast rock band, and also just one of the many cover versions of it, which include The Art Reynolds Singers, and The Byrds, who also barely made it into the Top 100 in 1969 with their own rendition.
"My Church", Maren Morris (2016)

#5, Billboard Hot Country/#50, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The debut single for this country artist from Texas, Maren sings of the church concept in a rather figurative context - more specifically, the sense of sanctuary and redemption that she feels when listening to the music of her country music idols at high volume while cruising down the road. Quoting Rolling Stone magazine: "Some keep the Sabbath going to church. Breakout Nashville star Maren Morris keeps it blazing down the freeway listening to classic country radio - with Hank Williams delivering the sermon and Johnny Cash leading the choir. Honoring tradition, this joyous popwise stomper keeps it moving forward."
"A Piece Of Paper", Gladstone (1972)

#45, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A now somewhat obscure but definitely deep single for a band from Tyler, Texas (featuring guitarist Mike Rabon, formerly of The Five Americans of "Western Union" fame). In the space of just under three minutes, this song covers a lot of lyrical ground, touching on many of the hot social topics of the day. Less specifically concerned with the subjects that appear in many of the other records on this list, "A Piece Of Paper" speaks of how the notions of right, wrong, moral, and immoral are very often determined by the existence of signed documents, and little else. It does also appear to include some thoughts on the religious practice of tithing.
"Witchi Tai To", Everything Is Everything (1969)

#69, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
"Witchi Tai To" was the only chart entry for the band "Everything Is Everything", which included Native American jazz saxophonist Jim Pepper. Sung partially in English and also featuring a genuine Native American chant (likely the only Hot 100 song to have ever done so), "Witchi Tai To" conjures comforting visions of attaining peace with both nature and onesself.
"Battle Hymn Of The Republic", The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1959)

#13, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This patriotic anthem, with lyrics penned by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe set to the music of the marching tune "John Brown's Body", managed to crack the pop Top 40 twice - first with this version, and then again nine years later via a rendition by pop crooner Andy Williams . The latter live recording by Williams was famously performed at the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the request of Kennedy's widow, Ethel.
"Deck Of Cards", Wink Martindale (1959)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
While most of us remember Wink for being the congenial host of several different TV game shows in the 1970s and 1980s, he had also once worked in radio as a disk jockey - and recorded a few singles of his own along the way. Of those, the Top 10 "Deck Of Cards" was his biggest chart success, selling over a million copies. It's based on an old spoken-word piece from the country genre, and tells the tale of a soldier who is able to talk his way out of trouble by putting a Biblical and very clever spin on the card game that he had just been caught playing at an inappropriate moment.
"Goin' By The Book" (1990), Johnny Cash

#69, Billboard Country (U.S.)
One of his later songs to chart, this appeared on his "The Mystery Of Life" LP, the 77th (!) album to be released by the country legend. This track speaks of many of the bleak modern realities of warfare and other current events, while also making the assertion that things are taking place according to plan.
"Just A Closer Walk With Thee", Jimmy Rodgers (1960)

#44, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Here's one that comes straight out of your church hymnal. A pop singer who enjoyed a good amount of success in the 1950s and 1960s, including several chart crossovers (pop, country, and R&B), this is Jimmy's take on an often-covered traditional gospel tune, whose origins may date as far back as the Civil War era, or even earlier.

If you enjoyed the A-side of this single, flip it over and give a listen to what Rodgers sang on the B-side.
"Who Will Save Your Soul", Jewel (1997)

#11, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Raised in Alaska, Jewel Kilcher brought a folksy coffeehouse vibe to pop radio, starting with this single (the first in a string of several more hits that would land on the charts in the mid to late 1990s). Speaking of her debut song: "When I was about sixteen years old, I took a train from Michigan to San Diego, and then into Tijuana and hitchhiked around Mexico. It seemed like everybody else was looking for somebody to save them. I wrote it during that trip, but I had no idea it would ever be on a record."
"Mary's Boy Child", Boney M. (1978)

#85, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Released as a Christmas single in 1978, and also a cover of Harry Belafonte's classic 1956 Christmas hit, this version by the West German vocal group has remained extremely popular, especially in the recent era of contemporary radio stations that have adopted extended Christmas formats that now span months, or sometimes even year-round. Internationally successful for decades, Boney M has sold in the neighborhood of a hundred million records, worldwide.

Yet another song from this band had reached the Top 40 here in the U.S., and was an even bigger hit internationally. Click to hear the other Boney M hit that is based on Psalm 137.
"Crystal Blue Persuasion", Tommy James and The Shondells (1969)

#2, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
One of the band's most significant chart hits, this rather kind and gentle number represented a bit of a departure from their other more psychedelic chart entries, such as "Crimson And Clover". It stalled at #2 for a few weeks, and might very well have made it to the top, had it not been blocked by "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans. Tommy James has noted that his inspiration for the tune and its title came to him after he had done some Bible reading - in particular, passages from Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Revelation.
"Jesus To A Child", George Michael (1996)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Michael penned this song as a tribute to his partner, who had died from AIDS-related complications. In the lyrics, he expresses the depth of their relationship as having been akin to the love that Jesus would express to a child. It was later discovered after George Michael's own passing in 2016 a decade later that he had secretly donated all proceeds from the song (which charted in the Top Ten in the U.S. and numerous other countries) to a U.K.-based children's charity
"Highway 61 Revisited", Bob Dylan (1965)

[Non-charting B-side] #3, Billboard Top 200 Albums (U.S.)
The title track of Dylan's sixth studio album, which also contained his signature "Like A Rolling Stone". "Highway 61 Revisited" was also released as the B-side of his "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" single. Verse number one contains a few notable lyrical references that appear to have been inspired by Genesis 22.
"Jezebel", Frankie Laine (1951)

#2, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Born in Illinois as Francesco Paolo LoVecchio, Laine was a popular and rather dynamic singer who performed in a wide variety of genres and styles, and had also been associated with several Western movie soundtracks. Frankie's expansive discography spans no fewer than least six decades. The title of this million-selling single directly references the biblical Jezebel of the books of Kings, wife of King Ahab and an archetype of the wicked woman.
"The Lord's Prayer", Sister Janet Mead (1974)

#4, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A South Australian Catholic nun, Mead formed a rock band at the age of 17. She later joined the Sisters of Mercy order and became a music teacher. Mead then began exploring the "Rock Mass" concept in the early 1970s, with the goal of making the Mass more interesting and accessible for her students. A bit of an unexpected hit in the early spring of 1974, you might very well have once turned on the single-speaker AM radio in your Ford Pinto to hear this single played back to back with other current pop tunes like "Dancing Machine" and "Spiders And Snakes".
"You Found Me", The Fray (2008)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This became the third single to sell over two million downloads for this Colorado rock group. Thematically, the song grapples with familiar and universal human topics such as trust, disappointment, and feelings of having been forsaken by a higher power
"Amazing Grace", Judy Collins (1971)

#15, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Collins is a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter with a lengthy career in the music industry. Recently, she scored her first-ever #1 album at the age of 80. Just a couple of years prior to that, Judy's rendition of "Amazing Grace" was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congressas being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant".
"Show Me The Way", Styx (1991)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
In the 70s and 80s, this Chicago band filled arenas and delighted large audiences with their repertoire of sometimes progressive and theatrical hard rock. Early in 1991, right around the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Gulf War, they managed to score a Top Five hit (their last one, to date) with this inspirational power ballad. It was written by Dennis DeYoung for his son Matthew about the struggle to keep the faith in a "world so filled with hatred".
"A Song Of Joy (Himno De La Alegria)", Miguel Rios (1970)

#14, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This single sold over four million copies across the globe, and it was the only Top 40 hit for Rios in the U.S. Musically speaking, this is the "Ode to Joy" melody of the final movement of Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven. In your hymnal, you'll find the same melody, with different lyrics, as "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee".
"God Bless The Child", Shania Twain (1997)

#48, Billboard Hot Country/#75, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
A minor crossover hit for Twain that landed on both the country and pop charts, the proceeds of which had been donated to charity. Not to be confused with the other "God Bless The Child", a totally different song that was written and originally performed by jazz great Billie Holiday, and later popularized by Blood, Sweat & Tears.
"Joy", Apollo 100 (1972)

#6, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Yet another classical piece that managed to score on the charts in a big way - and yet another one-hit wonder. This time around, it was keyboardist Tom Parker and his band performing their spritely pop adaptation of Bach's "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring". You're likely to hear this one (typically, played at a somewhat slower tempo) during some of the more festive events of the Christian tradition - such as Easter, Christmas, and at weddings.
"Everything Is Beautiful", Ray Stevens (1970)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
When he wasn't busy doing his usual thing - which consisted of composing and singing novelty ditties about hairy apes named Harry, Tarzan playing guitar, or people running around naked in public places (Don't look, Ethel!) - Country Music Hall-Of-Famer Harold Ray Ragsdale from Georgia was certainly well able to get serious on occasion. And, when he did, it almost always turned out well. "Everything Is Beautiful", which begins with the sound of a children's chorus singing the hymn "Jesus Loves The Little Children", delivered a positive and gospel-tinged message that was your constant companion on the airwaves during the summer of 1970, when it spent two weeks at the top of the chart.

Here's another hit example of Ray Stevens not trying to be funny... one which earns an Honorable Mention on this list.
"Put Your Hands Together", The O'Jays (1974)

#24, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Love Train made a stop at church in the early part of 1974, and it stayed there long enough to afford this American R&B band from Canton, Ohio their third Top Ten pop hit, which also scored big on the soul charts.
"I Believe In You", Don Williams (1980)

#24, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This marked the eleventh time that Williams reached the top of the country charts, and it also crossed over to the pop realm, where it fell just shy of cracking the Top 20. Described by its authors as an "honest" song with "simple lyrics", this gentle and endearing single speaks of some of what that the singer believes in, and also does not believe in - while also hinting at the need for a common ground consensus on at least a handful of things.
"I Say A Little Prayer", Aretha Franklin (1968)

#10, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Written by the very prolific songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick, it was Warwick's more traditional pop version that first became a Top 5 smash in 1967. In the following year, the song once again returned to the charts by way of Aretha's rendition, which took the song in a decidely more gospel-oriented direction. The intention of lyricist David was to convey a woman's prayerful concern for a partner who was serving in the Vietnam War.
"Shadrack", Brook Benton (1962)

#19, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
If you've ever found yourself longing to hear Daniel 3 set to an irresistably-catchy toe-tapping tune, then this record is for you. Benton's hit recording is just one of many others - "Shadrack" has also been performed in several styles by a diverse group of artists that include Sonny Rollins, Louis Prima, Kay Starr, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Louis Armstrong.
"Dreidel", Don McLean (1972)

#21, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The man who gave the world "American Pie", "Vincent", and "Castles In The Air" waxed philosphical on this single, which appeared on his third studio album. No stranger to deeper, more introspective lyrics, McLean essentially casts life as a roller coaster of confusion and uncertainty in this track, which came close to cracking the Top 20 in early 1973.
"O Dio Mio", Annette (Funicello) (1960)

#10, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
In the modern vernacular, the youngsters of the present era would probably be much more likely to refer to this saccharine teen ballad as simply "OMG" (these kids today... now get off my lawn). The beloved singer, actress, and former Mouseketeer from Utica, New York counted this 45 among the five hit singles that she had managed to land in the Top 40 during her career.
"Hell", Squirrel Nut Zippers (1996)

#13, Billboard Modern Rock Tracks (U.S.)
Definitely an odd little number by a quirky (but very talented) group of performers, the Zippers hail from North Carolina, and are known for their unique fusion of jazz, blues, and other styles - which aided them to ride the wave of a mini swing revival that took place in the mid to late 1990s. The Calypso-flavored "Hell" was their first charting single, and its main goal seems to have been to portend the ramifications of eternal damnation, in the most musically upbeat and catchy form that could possibly be mustered.
"All God's Children Got Soul", Dorothy Morrison (1969)

#95, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
We've already heard from Dorothy earlier, as she had been the lead vocalist on "Oh Happy Day". Born Dorothy Marie Combs in Texas and raised in California, Dorothy began singing as a young teenager and had early on recorded with her siblings as part of "The Combs Family", prior to joining the Edwin Hawkins Singers. This was the only song to make the pop chart for Dorothy as a solo artist here in the U.S. She also recorded her own version of another entry on this list, "Spirit In The Sky", and Morrison's cover version of that hit charted in the Top 50 in Canada.
"That's Why I Pray", Big & Rich (2012)

#16, Billboard Hot Country Songs/#82, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Nashville-based duo of Big Kenny and John Rich, known for their clever and sometimes bawdy brand of country pop, released this single from their fourth studio album, "Hillbilly Jedi", and it became a Top 20 country hit, as well as crossing over to become a minor pop hit in the summer of 2012.
"All His Children", Charley Pride (1972)

#2, Billboard Hot Country Songs/#92, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Legendary in the country music field, Pride holds a few notable distinctions: He is presently one of only a few African-Americans to have become a member of the Grand Ole Opry - and, in the mid 1970s, he became the best-selling performer on the RCA Records label since Elvis Presley. Charley teams up here with award-winning composer Henry Mancini on this single, which had also served as theme song of the 1971 Paul Newman/Henry Fonda film "Sometimes A Great Notion".
"Get Together", The Youngbloods (1967/1969)

#5, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This mellow peace anthem was written by Chet Powers (who, as Dino Valenti, was one of the lead singers of the rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service). Prior to The Youngbloods' version, it had first been recorded by The Kingston Trio, David Crosby, We Five, and Jefferson Airplane. Several other artists proceeded to later record their own renditions of the tune. When The Youngbloods first released their version in 1967, it had initially only become a minor hit - but when their song was was used in a radio PSA by the National Conference of Christians and Jews (voiced by legendary WABC DJ, Dan Ingram) as a call for brotherhood, listener demand led to the single being re-released, and "Get Together" became a Top 5 smash for The Youngbloods, the second time around.
"Place In This World", Michael W. Smith (1991)

#6, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Primarily a CCM artist, the West Virginia born Smith crossed over to mainstream Top 10 fame with this single, which was co-written by Amy Grant. another artist who has found success on both charts.
"Love Is The Answer", England Dan & John Ford Coley (1979)

#10, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Todd Rundgren composed this track for his band, Utopia. While their rendition had failed to chart, this cover version reached the Top 10 on the pop chart, and was also a #1 Adult Contemporary hit. "Love Is The Answer" has also been recorded by several Contemporary Christian artists.
"Lean On Me", Bill Withers (1972)

#1, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Withers was all over your radio in the Summer of '72. He credits the memories of his childhood in West Virginia, where he was raised in the poor section of a coal mining town that had strong community values, as the main inspiration for what has become his signature song. The simplicity and relatability of "Lean On Me" is part of what has led to its enduring popularity throughout the years, and at least one publication has referred to the tune as "the most Christian secular song of the 20th century".

"Lean On Me" is one of only a relative few songs that has reached Number One with versions by two different artists. To hear the the song in its second run at the top, click here.
"Beer With Jesus", Thomas Rhett (2012)

#26, Billboard Hot Country (U.S.)
In his second single from his debut album, Rhett tells the hypothetical tale of what kind of conversation he might have with Jesus in a decidedly unexpected setting.
"Child Of God", Bobby Darin (1960)

#95, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
There was just about nothing that Bobby Darin couldn't sing, and sing well. The singer, songwriter and actor from The Bronx had performed hits in the pop, rock, swing, country, and jazz genres, racking up more than twenty Top 40 hits along the way. He also released a holiday LP called "The 25th Day Of December", which featured an assortment of hymns and American spirituals. "Child Of God" was released as a single from that album, and just barely managed to sneak its way into the Top 100. (*EARWORM ALERT: You won't be getting this song out of your head anytime soon...)
"All You Zombies", The Hooters (1985)

#3, Billboard Modern Rock/#58, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
This somewhat mysterious and reggae-influenced track from the Philadelphia-based rock group features several references to Noah and Moses - and, according to band members Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman, had been composed in an extremely short amount of time. Bazilian has been quoted as not really being aware of any particular meaning to the song, despite having written it. Hyman has also noted that the biblical imagery had not been related to any specific agenda, but did also cause some stations to avoid airing the recording. "I love songs like that, you just listen and every time you hear it, you kind of wonder what's going on."
"Jesus Was A Capricorn", Kris Kristofferson (1972)

#91, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The title track of Kristofferson's fourth album, for which he has credited American singer-songwriter John Prine as a substantial influence. At first glance, its lyrics might appear to be a tad flippant, but they also contain a rather strong message that belies the somewhat casual overall feel of the tune.

The album also featured another song of note with spiritual overtones that would become a #1 country hit, and also make it to the Top 20 on the pop charts.
"Good Timin'", Jimmy Jones (1960)

#3, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Alabama-born Jones spent most of his life as an entertainer, and this upbeat ode to being in the right place and doing the right thing at the right time marked the second of only two occasions where Jimmy would score a major chart hit. In support of the song's premise, verse #1 makes a brief reference to the well-known scriptural account of the story of David and Goliath.
"Pray", Sam Smith feat. Logic (2018)

#23, Billboard Adult Contemporary/#55, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
English singer/songwriter Smith released this as the second single from his album, "The Thrill Of It All", and here the singer describes feeling skepticism toward religion and faith, while simultaneously expressing a desire to give belief and prayer a shot. The tune found some degree of chart success in nearly twenty different countries, including reaching the Top Ten in both Belgium and The Netherlands.
"The Reverend Mr. Black", The Kingston Trio (1963)

#8, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
Based in part on a 1931 folk song, The Kingston Trio scored a Top Ten hit with this tale of a cowboy who rode into town and left his most lasting impressions using something other than a pistol. The tune was co-written by Leiber and Stoller, and would notably also be covered later on by a rather well-known man in black.
"Coat Of Many Colors", Dolly Parton (1971)

#4, Billboard Country (U.S.)
It should come as no surprise that Parton holds the record for the most number one hits by a female artist on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. While this single didn't quite reach the top, it came close. The title track of her Gold album of the same name, "Coat Of Many Colors" - a.k.a. the "ornate robe", or (thanks to Broadway) the "Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", touches upon a familiar account that can be perused in Genesis 37.
"Personal Jesus", Depeche Mode (1990)

#28, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
By the mid 1980s, the British band Depeche Mode had evolved to become one of the biggest alternative acts in the entire world. Many fans had thought this song to be about the commercialization of religion; however, founding member and songwriter Martin Gore explained that the song, oddly enough, actually had much more to do with... The King Of Rock And Roll and his wife, Priscilla. "It's a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It's about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody's heart is like a god in some way, and that's not a very balanced view of someone, is it?"
"The Unicorn", The Irish Rovers (1968)

#7, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
The Irish Rovers, who all hailed from Northern Ireland but formed their band in Canada in the early 1960s, scored their biggest Hot 100 hit with this lilting, Shel Silverstein-penned account of one of the most familiar scriptural accounts of all time... the story of Noah and The Ark.
"Jesus He Knows Me", Genesis (1992)

#23, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
From their "We Can't Dance" LP, Phil Collins and company made their way into the Top 30 with this tune that one Rolling Stone writer evaluated as "a sharp indictment of televangelical piety". Often misinterpreted as a more broad slap against religion in general, Collins has stated that he had one specific TV preacher in mind, who was reportedly initially flattered upon learning of his persona being parodied by Collins in the song's video.
"Desiderata", Les Crane (1971)

#8, Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.)
An uncommon case of inspirational prose making its way onto the pop charts, in this case by way of a composition that had been penned by American writer Max Ehrmann in the early 1920s. The piece speaks mostly of encouraging thoughts and existential advice that one might categorize as being of the "words to live by" variety. Les Crane, a television commentator and talk show host who had worked in both Texas and Pennsylvania, won a Best Spoken Word Grammy for this, his lone Top Ten single.