Music is a medium that can help to mold a mind and soul. We see how music affects our culture, drives fashion and other fads, and influences our thoughts and speech. You are tapping into this powerful medium while you are passing on the faith right? If you are great, I’m going to help strengthen your use of music and broaden your view of the great music that is at our disposal. If you aren’t using music to help teach the faith there is no better time to start than now.
I have found in a lot of classrooms, formation offices, and youth group functions there is either music missing, or good music missing. As a teenager the CD that was always played at youth group functions was “Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits.” Granted, I am now a Steve Miller Band fan but I don’t think listening to him in the background helped to strengthen my faith or understanding of Catholic teaching. Sometimes I notice some of today’s top Christian artists playing like Third Day, Relient K, Michael W. Smith, etc. All of these artists are fine and great. They bring a good solid Christian message in their music and they can certainly have their place, but we are missing a large market of great music made by Catholic musicians that bring strong catechesis and great passion. Other times I hear chant and other styles of sacred music playing. Don’t get me wrong, this has its place and is important. All Catholics should be introduced to chant and other kinds of sacred music. I want you to think of this though. What kind of music are your students listening to when they are with their friends, at home, at school, in the car? What would you think if I told you there were Catholic artists that your students would want to listen to at these places? This may surprise you, but there are many great Catholic artists making great music that rival the popular artists of today. Unfortunately the market and venues for this great Catholic music is very small so your chance of stumbling upon it is slim. Great news, I have done the hard work for you.
Over the last couple of years I have been working on finding some great Catholic musicians that produce high quality music with great foundations in the Catholic faith. There is no reason we shouldn’t be using this music to help strengthen our teaching. Here are some of the fruits of my labor. Browse through these artists and enjoy their music. After the list I will have some ways you can use this music in your classroom, home, lessons, etc.
First, the artists you may have already heard of:
- Matt Maher – He has played music at World Youth Day, has toured with Jars of Clay and Mercy Me, and has his music played on top Christian radio stations around the country.
- Audrey Assad – A friend of Matt Maher, she was on a top Christian label but is now an independent artists. She has a wonderful voice and a great songwriting style.
- Jackie Francois – A speaker/musician that speaks a lot on chastity, purity, modesty, and relationships.
- Bob Rice – Bob is a professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville as well a musician/speaker. He plays accordion and is often leading praise and worship at the Steubenville youth conference in Ohio.
- Chris Padgett – Chris is also a professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is a very funny and faith filled musician/speaker.
Here are some artists that are often at nation Catholic youth functions:
- Popple – An acoustic humor rock duo. They have a strong faith and can relate to a younger audience. They use humor in their music to help bring Christ’s message.
- Michael James Mette – A father that tours a lot to help raise his family. He has a pretty rocking sound to his music.
- Josh Blakesley – An artist from OCP (They have many great artists) with a great voice and a strong story.
- Jacob and Matthew Band – A duo that travels with their band. They recently played in Rio for World Youth Day.
- Lee Roessler – A strong Catholic rock sound with some great lyrics.
Lastly here are some artist that you probably have never heard of or seen:
- The Thirsting – A rocking group from California that plays edgier music with well thought out Catholic lyrics.
- Clap For Poland – A group with a very unique sound.
- Joia Farmer – A mother and wife who works with her husband as a youth minister. She has a very soulful voice.
- Fr. Rob Galea – A Catholic priest in Australia that makes some great, relevant music.
- Righteous B – Bob Lesnefsky is a Catholic hip hop artists with a great inner city ministry in Steubenville, OH.
- Chris Bray – He’s from Canada, but he spend quite a bit of time in the US lugging his guitar around and leading worship. He is a husband and father as well.
Here are some more resources where you can find and listen to more Catholic music:
- Catholic Music Express
- Spirit and Song (Part of OCP)
- World Library Publications (WLP)
Now that you found some great Catholic music, how do you use it? Here are some ideas.
- Simply have it playing in the background.
- Find a song that works with whatever you are teaching. You will easily be able to find a song about God’s will, love, Mary, ordination, and other great themes with these artists.
- Find out what music your students listen to and do this, “Oh you like _____, have a listen to this.” Some of these artists have bulk discounts so you can even give away CDs when your students like them.
- When I taught middle school faith formation I would start with the gospel for that day and find a song that would go with it. We the then spend a short amount of time reading, listening, and discussing.
There are just a few small ideas to use. Music is too powerful a tool not to use. If you have other ways that you use music to teach the faith let me know in the comments.