Over the past year I’ve been collecting short songs and hymns focused on spiritual journey and pilgrimage. Some are walking songs or invite body movement; others feature a beautiful or thoughtful combination of text and tune. I have used many of them in congregations I've served as an interim/transitional musician and I'm happy to share the list with others as a resource.
I invite you to take time to listen to the links below. You might even use them as a tool to reflect on your spiritual journey.
What words or images from the text resonate with you?
What does the rhythmic energy or pace of the music communicate?
Is there an experience or place in your spiritual path that connects to the song?
How and when might you share these songs with your community?
Be Thou My Vision – Irish melody
I love to sing this well-known hymn in unison, letting the phrases rise and fall with a flowing, wavelike energy.
Bless Now, O God, The Journey – Sylvia Dunstan
I used this excellent text on Ash Wednesday this year. We paired it with Hal Hopson’s MERLE’S TUNE, which has a gentle, winding quality.
Ewe Thima/We Walk His Way - South African Song (Shona), transcr. by John Bell
This syncopated song, with an easy refrain in Shona, invites us to confidently follow the One whose love has overcome 'demons and death.'
God Bless Every Step - Ruth Cunningham
This paperless tune is a blessing on the journey but also a blessing on the earth. I have often used it while walking a labyrinth or as a body prayer.
Hamba Nathi/Come Walk With Us – South African Song (Zulu)
I learned this infectious walking song from songleader Pamela Warrick Smith and it’s a joy to teach and sing. It's also useful as an easy choral anthem.
Lead Me, Guide Me - Doris Akers
This text of the song, an intimate prayer for protection and guidance, reads like a contemporary Psalm. Paired with an assured, rhythmic tune by early Gospel composer Doris Akers, it becomes a powerful expression of trust in God. Music can be found in the African American Heritage Hymnal (#474) and you can learn to teach the song here.
Order My Steps – Glenn Burleigh
This well-known Gospel song asks God to guide us as we fulfill our calling. Music can be found in the African American Heritage Hymnal (#333).
Sizohamba naye/We Will Walk With God - Swaziland (Swati), transcr. John Bell
This walking song from Zimbabwe is perfect for the close of a worship service and invites all of us to ‘go rejoicing ‘til the kingdom has come.’
Somos pueblos que camina/We Are People on a Journey - Manuel Dávila
This gently dancing communion song from Nicaragua celebrates God's loving welcome to all. The blessings we receive from Communion and in community are to meant be shared with others.
We’ve Come This Far By Faith – Albert A. Goodson
This classic Gospel song speaks powerfully to God’s faithfulness in the midst of life’s challenges. ‘Oh, can’t turn around. We’ve come this far by faith.’ Music can be found in the African American Heritage Hymnal (#412).
You are Salt for the Earth – Marty Haugen
The last verse of the hymn boldly claims ‘we are a blessed and a pilgrim people, bound for the city of God. Love our journey and love our homeland. Love is the kingdom of God.’ This is an easy congregational song to teach and can be used many times during the liturgical year.