hopeful songs playlist

Music to dream by – Hopeful songs playlist

hopeful songs playlist

Ever need a kick in the pants? Or just a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day? Sometimes it feels like life is stuck in butter-churn mode—lots of work and going nowhere. If you’re like me every once in a while you need a wake-me-up call or a reminder of what life’s all about.

There are a lot of ways to get out of a rut, to keep moving forward. Prayer is essential. Wise counsel is invaluable. But one of the most wonderful gifts God has given us in this regard is music. I’ve written about how I use music for writing, but today I’d like to offer a playlist of hopeful songs that have helped me keep pushing forward when failure or mistakes or flagging resolve have made me want to bury my head in the pillow and sleep through my problems.

So here is my “hopeful songs” playlist. Ten songs to take your eyes off your woes and put them back where they should be. It should be especially meaningful for writers and artists, but it’s for anyone who needs a little bit of extra encouragement.

1. Brave by Sara Bareilles

Okay, so this song is about bullying (I think) and standing up for yourself, but as a writer it has a little extra special meaning. “Say what you want to say and let the words fall out honestly.” Those lyrics are words every writer should be singing. Whatever obstacles you’re facing, whether it be bullies, or editing the 5th draft of your manuscript, we could all use a little bit more “brave” to face down those dragons in our lives.

2. Raging Sea by Michael W. Smith

This song works on so many levels. The melody rises and falls like the waves from the song’s title, but the chorus ends with a peaceful exhale that almost makes you feel like you’ve just been pulled onto a life boat. “So if you’re stumbling through the valley. If you’re tempted to give to give up the fight…” this is the song you need to listen to.

3. Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

Every word of this song. Everything. I love Dangle’s throaty voice, but even more I love the message she sings about here. I could quote the whole song, really, but you should probably just listen to it yourself. Okay, I can’t resist at least sharing the chorus:

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.

Amen.

4. The Silence of God by Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite musicians. There is more comfort to be found in his music than an old afghan warmed by the fire. He’s also a pretty skilled fiction writer. The sheer poetry of his lyrics is amazing. This particular song is a reminder that sometimes Providence is hard. But we are not the first to know pain and frustration. Again, I’m tempted to quote the whole song, but the last line is too beautiful not to at least mention. This song has more truth and majesty per syllable than a hundred sugar-coated ear-ticklers at the top of the charts.

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

“The holy, lonesome echo…” Ah, it gets me every time I hear it.

5. Need You Now (How Many Times) by Plumb

This song is really more like a prayer with a melody and a beat. The first line is a great reminder, “Everybody’s got a story to tell.” I love the anthemic, big sound of the chorus juxtaposed against the more intimate, introspective verses. It’s sad that so often we don’t cry out to God until we’re hanging off the edge of a cliff. We really should be singing and praying of our need for him even when things are sunny and wonderful.

6. Glorious Unfolding by Stephen Curtis Chapman

I had to listen to this one a few times before it really hit me. But boy did it. A great reminder that our lives are really part of a much larger story. And what a glorious story it will be! Though we can not always see it in the moment. “There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold!” As I writer and fellow wanderer on life’s road, that’s a message I need to hear over and over again.

7. Fight Song by Rachel Patten

I love the imagery and emotion of this song. A small boat on the ocean…A single match that causes an explosion. Again, as a writer, some of the lines in this one really strike a chord, “All those things I didn’t say…Wrecking balls inside my brain,” and “Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep,” but “…there’s a fire burning in my bones.” This song reminds us to keep fighting. Keep following that dream.

8. The Motions by Matthew West

This one has a special place in my life. This was the song I listened to over and over when I was trying to finish my first novel, Into the Vast“This might hurt. It’s not safe, but I know that I’ve got to make a change.” Fear is definitely a part of most writers’ experience. And finishing that first draft was so hard. But I did it by God’s grace. And he used this song to help me get to that point. Maybe it will help you decide to stop “going through the motions” and live life passionately in pursuit of the vision God has given you.

9. Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

This song has a story-like quality to it. It is so easy to picture this small town girl torn between pursuing her dreams and the love she has for those who have always been there for her. “Take a chance, make a change, and break away,” this song tells us. But as an author friend of mine is fond of saying, we need to learn to balance reality and dreams and this song admonishes us not to “forget all the ones” that we love in the pursuit of those dreams.

10. Whatever You’re Doing by Sanctus Real

This song is another great mixture of contemplative verse with a rousing, soul-shaking chorus. This one encourages those who hear it to reflect on their lives and make that change, that difficult decision they’ve been putting off.

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills?

It is so easy to live life on auto-pilot and forget our true purpose. We’re ultimately not here just to achieve a dream, win friends and admiration, or accumulate mountains of wealth. If our dream isn’t ultimately motivated by the “glorious unfolding” of God’s ultimate, over-arching story then we are struggling in vain. We’re just “climbing aimlessly” over one challenge after another. Yes, in this world we may have difficulty, but we can take heart, knowing that the one who made us has overcome it, and amazingly, unthinkably, we have a part to play in this, the greatest story ever told.

I hope you found this post encouraging. Be sure to let me know if you do because that would be, well, encouraging!

And what about you? Are there any songs here that have spoken to you as well? Any favorites? What music would you add to my “hopeful songs” playlist?

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Comments (13)

  1. Jenelle May 18, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Ooh, encouragement playlist! I like it! I haven’t heard some of these before, but I like them.

    I would add “Mountains” by Lonestar. That’s one that always encourages me.

    This Journey is My Own by Sara Groves: “And why would I want to live for man, and pay the highest price? What does it mean to gain the whole world, only to lose my life? … So I live, and breathe [and write] for an audience of One…”

    Lots of Sara Groves songs, actually…

    • DJ Edwardson May 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Ah yes, Sara Groves. She seems really talented. I only know a couple of her songs. I will have to check out the ones you mentioned. I just listened to the Lonestar song, though and I love it! Definitely a worthy addition to the playlist!

  2. J. L. Mbewe May 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Oh my. This! I just can’t. Music. I love it. It connects people, encourages us, and touches us so deeply words just don’t cut it. Ha, that’s coming from a writer. Thank you for sharing this list. I have not heard many of these. I will be revisiting these!

    Songs that have spoken to me:

    Worn by Tenth Avenue North
    Oceans by Hillsong United
    Touch the Sky by Hillsong United
    Don’t Deserve You by Plumb
    No Longer a Slave by Bethel Music
    Broken by Lifehouse

    Just to name a few…. 🙂

    • DJ Edwardson May 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this list. Music is amazing, isn’t it?

      Worn almost made this list. Such a great song. God has definitely used that song in my life to lift my spirits on dark days. Oceans is beautiful as well. I can’t remember if I’ve heard the Plumb song you mentioned as well, but I really like that group so I’m sure I’d love that one as well.

      Thanks for sharing your list of songs!

      • J. L. Mbewe May 18, 2016 at 5:54 pm

        You’re welcome! 🙂

        There is another song that was my go-to song for many years. It’s actually a friend of mine’s song she had written in college and I learned it almost by heart on guitar. But it isn’t a song that you can see on youtube or hear on the radio.

      • J. L. Mbewe May 19, 2016 at 7:35 pm

        I just had to share this with you. I played “Brave” for my kiddos and they love it and have it on repeat right now. And my little girl is dancing around and singing into a lightsaber with the song. I tried to capture a picture of it, but she was a blur. 😀

  3. Abbey May 20, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Music is wonderful. I’m reading through the Psalms at the moment and so many of them are songs. God definitely created music for a reason… praise of Him, encouragement, and enjoyment, too.
    I don’t think I’ve heard any of the songs on your list. I’ll have to give some of them a listen after I finish listening to Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G (I’m especially interested in “Brave.” I love Sara Bareilles, but have never heard that song before).

    • DJ Edwardson May 21, 2016 at 7:57 am

      I love classical pieces as well. One of my daughters had her piano recital this week and I got to listen not only to her lovely playing but many others. I could have sat there listening to it all night. “Brave” is the only Bareilles song I actually have heard. I’ll have to check out some more of hers later. I hope you find some new favorites on this list, but more importantly, some hope and encouragement!

      • Abbey May 21, 2016 at 1:07 pm

        That’s one of the best parts of piano recitals—hearing everyone else! Mine is tonight and I can’t wait to hear what the other students have been working on.
        After listening to Brave, I found that I have heard it before, though I don’t know where. Probably at the store or on a commercial. I haven’t listened to all her music, but her song “Love Song” (or something like that) has a cool music video with it and the music from her Broadway show “Waitress” is really fun (the plot is terrible, but it only comes into the music in one song). I like her because she’s actually got a good voice and because her music is so different from the standard pop music out there.

        • DJ Edwardson May 21, 2016 at 10:17 pm

          Have an awesome concert! What piece(s) are you playing?

          • Abbey May 24, 2016 at 12:31 am

            Thanks! It went very well. I played “Rustle of Spring” by Christian Sinding and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” by Vince Guaraldi. What did your daughter play at her recital?

          • DJ Edwardson May 24, 2016 at 10:40 am

            Hmm, I’m not familiar with those. I’ll have to check them out. My daughter played a very short piece (it was her second recital) called Arabesque. She likes fast songs with lots of notes!

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