After my wife, Renee, passed on from cancer in 1992—at the startlingly young age of 27—I did a lot of grieving.
One of the things that helped me through that process was listening to the music of two Christian recording artists.
I’ve mentioned them a few times on Catholic Answers Live when people call in who are dealing with personal losses, and I thought I’d blog about them in hopes that the information could be helpful to others.
I’m not impressed by a lot of artists, but I am by these two. They’re both very talented musicians and songwriters—and not just about grieving. Their music deals with a lot of situations from life and is well worth listening to whether you’re grieving or not!
Both artists are Evangelicals (or, I should say, Mark Heard was Evangelical; he passed just a couple of weeks before Renee did).
They both lost people, and this informs their work. They have a sense of the reality of suffering, but framed with a Christian worldview that emphasizes hope and redemption.
This combination—suffering, hope, and redemption—made their music very helpful to me.
It can still make me tear up—in a good way. (In fact, I did writing this post.)
Here are a few notes on the artists, as well as some of the albums that I listened to—and particular songs that I found helpful.
These were a comfort to me, and I hope they will provide comfort to others.
Whether you’re grieving or not, I recommend both these artists!
Heard’s music ranges across a variety of musical styles (rock, country, zydeco) and is very thoughtful.
It is filled with powerful images, complex emotions, and subtle biblical references.
I’ve blogged about it—in connection with Renee’s death—before. You can read about that here.
Here’s a recording of Mark’s song Treasure of the Broken Land.
Sprague’s music also ranges across a variety of musical styles, but it is primarily rock and orchestral rock-oriented. It is clear that one of his major influences has been the Beatles.
His music tends to be more overtly Christian (e.g., Sprague will just come out and say “Heaven Is a Long Hello”—whereas Heard will allude to being reunited with our loved ones by mentioning “miraculous circumstance where the blind ones see and the dry bones dance”).
Here’s a recording of Billy’s song Press On.
Sprague tends to be more explicit, whereas Heard relies more on allusions. Both the more direct and the less direct approaches are helpful in reaching and processing emotions.
Both artists have music that is very beautiful and can be emotionally powerful for a grieving person (or anybody).
Both also have music that contains of sorrow and hope. Heard’s helped me process feelings of sorrow a little bit more, while Sprague’s helped me feel hope a little bit more.
This made them both good for the different stages of grieving.
Mark Heard Discography for Grieving
Album: Dry Bones Dance (1990)
- Rise from the Ruins
- Dry Bones Dance
- House of Broken Dreams
- Strong Hand of Love
Album: Satellite Sky (1992)
- Satellite Sky
- Orphans of God
- Language of Love
- Treasure of the Broken Land
Billy Sprague Discography for Grieving
- Heaven Is a Long Hello
- Waiting for the Day
- For the One Who Sleeps
- You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down
Album: The Wind and the Wave (1993)
- Press On
- A Way Back
- The Blessing (of the Fleet)
- The Sacred Journey
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