Four different songs for the Easter season

On Easter this last Sunday, if you’re Christian, you might have marked the occasion with traditional choral music. Or if you’re especially unorthodox, perhaps you listened to some Christian Rock. Here, in honor of the recent holiday, are four great songs about Jesus that you will never hear on Easter.

Sufjan Stevens—”The Transfiguration

Sufjan Stevens’ recent releases often criticize faith. “All Delighted People,” for example, is almost nihilistic. Back in the day, however, Stevens’ work was full to bursting with Jesus. “The Transfiguration” recounts an episode from the Bible prophesying the Resurrection, closing with the lines, “Lost in the cloud, a sign: son of man, son of God!”

St. Vincent—”Jesus Saves, I Spend

Anne Erin Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) toured for years backing Sufjan Stevens before she became a musical act herself (i.e., as St. Vincent). We might speculate that “Jesus Saves, I Spend” mocks Stevens’ religiosity, and specifically his rapid rise to commercial success via that religiosity.

Neutral Milk Hotel—”King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. 2 & 3

This song may or may not have anything to do with Jesus. It merited inclusion on this list with its opening lines: “I love you Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ I love you, yes I do.” Neutral Milk may be using “Jesus Christ” as an exclamation, in which case the song would be aimed at an audience other than Jesus (i.e., meaning “Jesus Christ—I love you” rather than “I love you: Jesus Christ”). But considering the apocalyptic tone of the song’s other lyrics, this is probably in fact for J.C.

Kanye West—”Jesus Walks (NSFW)

This song is really more about racism and Chi-town hardship than it is about Jesus. It is about West finding comfort in faith, even amid a bedlam of war and poverty. Over and over he pleads, “God show me the way because the devil’s trying to break me down,” and his meaning is two-fold. West is pleading salvation not just from sin but also from faithlessness, i.e., from that meaningless chaos into which his violent world threatens to descend.