During World Interfaith Harmony Week, and in the month of February in 2022, many in the world will focus on our common humanity—explore grave issues that we share and for which we need to find solutions. Special dialogues will occur between groups of different faiths and those opposed to organized religion to search for paths of understanding. Religious and spiritual practices will be shared and experienced, and each participating individual in these practices can expect to be enriched and changed and come closer to realizing that our similarities are stronger and more prevalent than our differences.
This year to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week (2022), we decided to extend our offering beyond a day, week, month or even a year. We have assembled a compilation of music from many of the world’s religious traditions, and have added into the mix some reflective songs that challenge our current thinking, spur emotions and provide avenues for reflection and contemplation. Given the nearly four hours of collected music in total, you most probably will want to divide it into sections, and listen to the playlist in intervals. We decided not to categorize the songs into types or styles, religious traditions, geographic areas of the world, but rather to adhere to the true spirit of interfaith. The offerings have been blended, moving from hymn to chant, individual artists to chorale renditions.
Click here to be taken to the Playlist, Music as a Pathway to Unity, on Spotify. There is no charge, but we would greatly appreciate your sharing of it. A short description of each entry is provided below.
Please let this offering continue to grow. Contact us with ideas you have to enrich and extend it. At some point we may divide the original playlist into shorter segments. If and when we do this we will make announcements here, on social media and in our newsletters.
Music As A Pathway to Unity Playlist—In Order of Presentation
Kyrie (The Misa Criolla)—Mercedes Sosa and Ariel Ramirez
Misa Criolla is the most famous work of the Argentine composer, pianist and music director Ariel Ramírez (4 September 1921 – 18 February 2010). The mass has been recorded by Jose Carreras and by Mercedes Sosa in 1999, the Argentine singer whose rendition of the Kyrie is offered on the playlist.
In Gratitude—Plum Village Ensemble
Plum Village, near Bordeaux in southwest France, is the largest international practice center in the Plum Village tradition, and the first monastic community founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) in the West.Plum Village is where Thay has realized his dream of building a Beloved Community: creating a healthy, nourishing environment where people can learn the art of living in harmony with one another and with the Earth.
Aar Nanak Paar Nanak—Diljit Dosanjh
“Aar Nanak Paar Nanak” is a Shabad, literally meaning the Word. In Sikh thought it is a vehicle which allows us to cross the ocean of existence, the ups and downs of this world that we inhabit, attain sovereign experience, and become sovereign beings.
Diljit Dosanjh is an Indian singer-songwriter, actor, film producer and television presenter who works in Punjabi and Hindi cinema.
Prayer of the Mothers—Yael Deckelbaum and Mothers Chorus
The song "Prayer of the Mothers", was born as a result of an alliance made between singer-songwriter Yael Deckelbaum, and a group of courageous women, leading the movement of “Women Wage Peace”. The movement arose on summer 2014 during the escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and the military operation “Tzuk Eitan”.
On October 4, 2016, Jewish and Arab women began with the joint "March of Hope" project. Thousands of women marched from the north of Israel to Jerusalem in a call for peace. A call that reached it’s peak on October 19th, in a march of at least 4,000 women half of them Palestinian, and Half Israeli, in Qasr el Yahud (on the northern Dead Sea), in a joint prayer for peace.
Amazing Grace—Andrea Bocelli
"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). It is an immensely popular hymn.
Andrea Bocelli is an Italian operatic tenor and multi-instrumentalist. He was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at 5 months old, and became completely blind at age 12. Bocelli was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2006 and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 2 March 2010 for his contribution to Live Theater. Singer Celine Dion has said that "if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli” and record producer David Foster has often described Bocelli's voice as the most beautiful in the world.
Beautiful That Way—Noa
Achinoam Nini (Hebrew: אחינועם ניני, romanized: Aẖinóʿam Nini; born June 23, 1969), also known professionally as Noa (נועה), is an Israeli singer-songwriter, percussionist, poet, composer, and human rights activist.
The Prayer—Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
"The Prayer" is a song performed by Canadian singer Celine Dion and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. It was written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis. "The Prayer" was originally recorded in two solo versions for the 1998 film Quest for Camelot, in English by Dion and in Italian by Bocelli.
Gracias a la Vida—Mercedes Sosa
"Gracias a la vida" (Spanish for "Thanks to life") is a song written by Chilean Violeta Parra, one of the artists who was part of the movement and musical genre known as the Nueva Canción Chilena. Parra composed "Gracias a la vida" in La Paz in 1966, It was included on Las Últimas Composiciones, the last album Parra published before committing suicide in 1967. The song is one of Parra's most renowned. It is performed throughout the world and remains one of the most covered Latin American songs in history.
Haydée Mercedes Sosa was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the region. With her roots in Argentine folk music, Sosa became one of the preeminent exponents of La nueva canción.
Avinu Malkeinu—Lior and Nigel Westlake
Taken from 'Compassion' - a song cycle for voice and orchestra written by Lior and Nigel Westlake. Performed by Lior and the SSO at the Sydney Opera House Sep, 2013. Conducted by Nigel Westlake.
Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ; "Our Father, Our King") is a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services during the Ten Days of Repentance, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur inclusive. Since the 17th century, most Eastern Ashkenazic communities recite it also on all fast days; in the Sephardic and Western Ashkenazic tradition (as well as a very few Eastern Ashkenazic communities) it is recited only during the Ten Days of Repentance.
Kaddish is a 13th century, Aramaic prayer said during every traditional prayer service. Kaddish means “sanctification” in Aramaic and it is related to the Hebrew word Kadosh, which means 'holy. ‘
Of Yemenite-Jewish heritage, Haza's music is known as a mixture of traditional and commercial singing styles, fusing elements of Eastern and Western instrumentation, orchestration and dance-beat. She became successful in Europe and the Americas; during her singing career, she earned many platinum and gold discs. In Israel, Haza was an influential cultural figure who helped to popularize Mizrahi culture.
The Prophet of Emotion—Faran Ensemble
The Faran Ensemble was formed in 2009 by three musicians sharing similar musical vibes and values, who decided to embark together on a spiritual quest. The ensemble’s name, Faran, refers to Wadi Faran, a dry desert riverbed which in winter fills with water and life and in summer is silent and pristine. The Faran crosses three countries, but ignores all artificial human borders.
You’ll Never Walk Alone—Renee Fleming
Over the years, the song has become an American standard, often sung at major national events. “The words are about resiliency and hope,” says Renee Fleming. Fleming is one of the most successful working opera singers in the world.
Take My Hand Precious Lord—Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel". Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as "the single most powerful black woman in the United States".
Just a Closer Walk with Thee—Patsy Cline
"Just a Closer Walk with Thee" is a traditional gospel song that has been performed and recorded by many artists. Performed as either an instrumental or vocal. Patsy Cline (1932-1963) was an American singer. She is considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century and was one of the first country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music.
Down to the River to Pray—Alison Krauss
"Down in the River to Pray” is a traditional American song variously described as a Christian folk hymn, an African-American spiritual, an Appalachian song, and a Southern gospel song. The exact origin of the song is unknown.
Alison Maria Krauss is an American bluegrass-country singer and musician. Krause was awarded the National Medal of Art in 2019 and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in September 2021.
Ecce Quomodo/Will You Be There—Perpetuum Jazzile
“Ecce Quomodo Moritur Justus” by Slovenian Renaissance composer Jakob Petelin Gallus is combined with Michael Jackson’s composition for the Free Willy film, Will You Be There. The arrangement is by the Slovenian chorale group, Perpetuum Jazzile.
Kyrie Eleison—Oxford Camerata
The Kyrie is an acclamation sung in the Latin Mass directly after the Introit. The basic text, which is Greek, consists of 'Kyrie eleison' (three times), 'Christe eleison' (three times), 'Kyrie eleison' (three times): 'Lord, have mercy...Christ, have mercy... Lord, have mercy.’
The Oxford Camerata is an English chamber choir based in Oxford, England. The Camerata was founded in 1984. The ensemble consists of a core membership of fifteen singers, though personnel size varies according to the demands of the repertoire.
Ederlezi—Goran Bregovic and Vaska Jankovska
The song got its name from Ederlezi, which is a festival celebrating the return of springtime, especially by the Romani people (Gypsies) of the Balkans, and elsewhere around the world. Ederlezi is the Romani name for the Serbian Djurdjevdan, the Feast of Saint George. It is celebrated on 6 May,
Goran Bregović is a recording artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is one of the most internationally known modern musicians and composers of the Slavic-speaking countries in the Balkans, and is one of the few former Yugoslav musicians who has performed at major international venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and L'Olympia.
Dastam Begir Abdu’l-Baha —Sonbol Taefi
Traditional song of the Bahai faith.
Hold Thou My Hand
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I’m far from home
The road is dark, I’m alone
Hold thou my hand, Hold thou my hand
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, be Thou my guide
When I am weak stay by my side
Hold thou my hand, Hold thou my hand
In the Black Sea—Divna Ljubojevic
Divna Ljubojević, sometimes called by just her first name, Divna, is a Serbian singer and conductor of Orthodox Christian sacred music in various languages. She is the conductor and artistic director of the Melodi ensemble, a "choir and studio for spiritual music"which she founded.
Lykourgos Angelopoulos, professor at the School of Byzantine Chant at the Conservatory of Athens, and the founder and director of the Greek Byzantine Choir, has described her as having one of the purest voices he has ever heard.
Burning Fire—Pragnya Wakhlu
Musician, composer, and activist based out of New Delhi, India, Pragnya Wakhlu is a strong believer in using the power of music to promote positive change. Burning Fire captures the emotional experiences of the Tibetan people, conveying the love, unity and closeness connected to the song’s bones.The song aims to bring awareness to the oft ignored and very critical issue of self immolations in the Tibetan community and their struggle to preserve their identity.
I Need You More—AGAPAO Worship
Agapao Worship is a youthful South Korean ensemble. In their own words: “In every worship service, we praise and proclaim according to the heart that is given to us,
and worship so that God's grace can be poured out more powerfully during sermon and prayer.
Sona Jobarteh is a unique and pioneering musical icon of her time whose renown has been rapidly flourishing globally. Born into a Griot family from the Gambia, a tradition that dates back 7 centuries, she is the first female within this tradition to become a professional virtuoso on the Kora. Her music is uniquely poised between the preservation of her rich cultural heritage and an accessible, modern style that relates to the current era and to audiences from all over the world. At the heart of her success as an artist is her dedication to humanitarian activism in the areas of social development and educational reform on the continent of Africa.
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda—Eric Bogle
Eric Bogle is a Scottish folk singer-songwriter. Born and raised in Scotland, he emigrated to Australia at the age of 25, to settle near Adelaide, South Australia. Bogle's songs have covered a variety of topics, and have been performed by many artists. “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” is one of the most striking anti-war and remembrance songs to be written.
Sami Yusuf is a British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He gained international attention with the release of his debut album, Al-Muʽallim, in 2003. Besides his native English, Sami has performed in Arabic, Azerbaijani, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. in 2014, Yusuf was appointed United Nations Global Ambassador for the World Food Program.
Baba Yetu—Stellenbosch University Choir
“Baba Yetu” is essentially the Lord’s Prayer sung in Swahili. The title translated means “Our Father.” The Stellenbosch University Choir (Afrikaans: Stellenbosch Universiteitskoor) is a Choir affiliated with Stellenbosch University. Founded in 1936, it is the oldest choir in South Africa. The choir is viewed as a leading South African choral ensemble and has toured overseas extensively where it has won critical acclaim for its performances.
Mahk Jchi is a haunting song written by the Native American women’s group Ulali. The song is in a compilation of Tutelo and Saponi languages, now extinct dialects of the Sioux nation from the Ohio Valley in the eastern part of the U.S.
Our hearts are full and our minds are good
Our ancestors come and give us strength
Stand tall, sing, dance and never forget who you are
Or where you come from
I’ll Stand By You (Amber Patrice Riley)
"I'll Stand by You" is a song written by Chrissie Hynde and the songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, and produced by Ian Stanley. The song is a ballad in which the singer pledges love and faithful assistance to a loved one in times of personal darkness.
Amber Patrice Riley is an American actress, singer, author, and activist. She is best known for her portrayal of Mercedes Jones on the Fox comedy-drama series Glee (2009–2015). For her performance on the series, she won a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has been nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, and a Grammy Award.
No More Genocide—Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert
Sung by two icons, Ronnie Gilbert as a famed folk singer and Holly Near from the feminist movement. Both as activist. “No More Genocide,” written by Near, speaks to truth. The song has been adopted as an anthem by many religious organizations.
Why do we call them the enemy this struggling nation
we've been bombing across the sea?
Why do we want these people to die?
Why do we say North and South?
Oh, why, oh why, oh why?
That's just a lie
one of the many and we've had plenty.
I don't want more of the same,
No more genocide in my name!
La Pajita—Holly Near and Initi-Illimani
“La Pajita” is a poem written by Gabriela Mistral, the first Spanish American author to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, As an educator, Mistral wrote poetry for children. In her writing she indicated such poetry “ must be more delicate than any other poetry, deeper, more saturated of things of the heart: more affected by the breath of the soul). In “La Pajita she combines fantasy with playfulness.
Inti-Illimani are an instrumental and vocal Latin American folk music ensemble from Chile. They are perhaps the best internationally known members of the Nueva canción movement. Their name means 'Sun of the Illimani': Illimani, in Aymara language, is the name of a mountain in the Bolivian Andes and it means 'Golden Eagle'.
Om Mani Padme Hung—Yungchen Lhamo
Om mani padme hum is an ancient Buddhist mantra. In English, this rhythmic chant literally translates to “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus.”
Yungchen Lhamo was born and raised in Lhasa, Tibet. Her name, which translates to “Goddess of Melody and Song," was given to her by a holy man at birth. She crossed the Himalayan Mountains to Dharamshala, India, in order to pursue her dreams. Yungchen later moved to Australia, where she began to sing prayers of meditation
Volver A Los 17—En Vivo—La Santa Cecilia
“Volver A Los 17” was written by Chilean, Violeta Parra.
Returning to seventeen
after living a century
is like deciphering signs
without being a competent sage.
To suddenly become
as fragile as a second,
to feel deep again
like a child in front of God.
That is what I feel
in this fertile moment.
La Santa Cecilia exemplifies the modern-day creative hybrid of Latin culture, rock and world music. The group draws inspiration from all over the world, utilizing Pan-American rhythms including cumbia, bossa-nova, rumba, bolero, tango, jazz and klezmer music. Their unique sounds and the experience of their colorful, passionate performances continues to captivate both loyal fans and new listeners. Named after the patron saint of music, La Santa Cecilia.
Emarabini/Nkomo Ka Baba—Soweto Gospel Choir
“'Emarabini' is a traditional Xhosa song about an orphan. The song asks "who will look after this child?”. Soweto Gospel Choir was formed to celebrate the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music. The choir draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto. The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world.
Ty så älskar Gud—New Wine Sweden
New Wine is a missional movement, dedicated to releasing Spirit-filled disciples through the local church and seeing Spirit-renewed churches change the nation.
Sami Yusuf is a British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He gained international attention with the release of his debut album, Al-Muʽallim, in 2003.
Besides his native English, Sami has performed in Arabic, Azerbaijani, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.
DEEN AS-SALAAM—Veryai Elisha Aqila Zulfikar
The entire world will be narrow
If we live without tolerance
But if you live with love
Even though our narrow world is happy
Veryal Eisha Aqila Zulfikar Basyaiban or better known as Veve Zulfikar (born 7 July 2003) is an Indonesian religious singer, actress, and brand ambassador. In addition, she is also an Indonesian young qāriʾah (female reciter of the Quran) who is often invited to various provinces in Indonesia to recite verses of the Quran at various religious events.
The Mummers’ Dance—Loreena McKennitt
“The Mummers' Dance” is a single by Canadian Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt from the 1997 album “The Book of Secrets”. The song refers to seasonal Mummers Play performed by groups of actors, often as house-to-house visits.The song refers to the Pagan holiday Beltane.
Beltane is one of the eight Sabbats. It falls about halfway between the spring equinox (Ostara) and the coming summer solstice, Litha. The holiday celebrates spring at its peak, and the coming summer. Beltane also sometimes goes by the name May Day.
Malak Ghair Allah—Muhammed Al-Haddad
When times are tough
And you feel trapped and helpless
No matter how short or long life is, you have no one but Allah
Your days flew by, wasted
Chasing one dream after another
Mohammed Haddad is a Bahraini composer and music critic. He is an active artist in the music scene of Bahrain and a leading composer in the film scores of Bahraini films.
Glory Bound—The Wailin’ Jennys
Glory Bound is a American spiritual. The Wailin' Jennys are a Canadian music group. They have released several albums and received two Juno Awards.
Hoea Ra (Kiri Te Kanawa)
A song using the imagery of the mythical great fleet, sung during World War Two to encourage all Maori to work cooperatively in the war effort, and revived during the urban migration of the 1960s. In the 1960s, from farms to factories, from small close-knit rural communities to the vast state housing areas of Porirua and Otara, the song was modified to recall the myth of the voyage of the "Great Fleet," to enhance the idea of people from all the tribes being one unified culture, with the strength to withstand urban Pakeha pressures.
Dame Kiri Jeanette Claire Te Kanawa is a New Zealand opera singer. Though she rarely sang opera later in her career, Te Kanawa frequently performed in concert and recital, gave masterclasses, and supported young opera singers in launching their careers.
‘O ‘Oe ‘lo/ Kanada Waiwai—Kawika Kahiapo
Kawika Kahiapo is one of the Hawaii’s most accomplished slack key musician. Here he performs two traditional Christian songs.
Inward Journey—R. Carlos Nakai
Of Navajo-Ute heritage, R. Carlos Nakai is the world’s premier performer of the Native American flute. Originally trained in classical trumpet and music theory, Nakai was given a traditional cedar wood flute as a gift and challenged to see what he could do with it.While well-grounded in the traditional uses of the flute, Nakai has explored new musical settings including new age, world-beat jazz and classical.
Cherokee Morning Song—Walela
Walela is a trio of singers, named for the Cherokee word for hummingbird. The group was founded in 1996 by sisters Rita Coolidge and Priscilla Coolidge, with Priscilla's daughter Laura Satterfield as the third member.
Ave Maria, Dolce Maria—Luciano Pavoritti and Vittorianao Benvenuti
Ave Maria is an ancient and important Catholic prayer, recognized pretty much everywhere throughout the Christian world, as many composers have created musical settings for ave maria down through the centuries.
Luciano Pavarotti Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was an Italian operatic tenor who during the late part of his career crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most acclaimed and loved tenors of all time.
Weaving together soaring, angelic vocals and the celestial sound of crystal singing bowls, Ashana is one of the premiere healing music artists of our time. In fact, Ashana’s original sound pioneered an entirely new genre of healing music with crystal singing bowls.
The Holly and the Ivy—Choir of Westminster
"The Holly and the Ivy" is a traditional British folk Christmas carol. The song can be traced only as far as the early nineteenth century, but the lyrics reflect an association between holly and Christmas dating at least as far as medieval times. The lyrics and melody varied significantly in traditional communities, but the song has since become standardized.
The Choir of Westminster Abbey is renowned worldwide as one of the finest choirs of its type. Comprising up to thirty boys (all of whom attend the Abbey’s unique Choir School) and twelve professional adult singers, known as Lay Vicars, its wide-ranging performing activities are rooted in centuries-old tradition and its repertoire ranges from plainsong and Tudor polyphony to twentieth-century masterpieces and new commissions.
North Star—Lyla June and Quincy Davis
Oh my Creator
Helper of my soul
Walk with me on this road
'Cuz I can't do it on my own
No I can't do this alone
Lyla June Johnston is an Indigenous public speaker, artist, scholar and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages from Taos, New Mexico.
Her messages focus on Indigenous rights, supporting youth, traditional land stewardship practices and healing inter-generational and inter-cultural trauma.
Currently Associate Professor of Jazz Drum Set at the University of North Texas, QUINCY DAVIS was born in Grand Rapids, MI, and comes from a very musical family. He began taking piano and drum lessons at age 6. In his elementary and middle school bands, he also played trumpet and tuba. Both of his parents are musicians who exposed him to all different styles of music including instrumental jazz, European classical, gospel, opera, R&B and jazz-fusion.
Simple Gifts—Yo-Yo Ma and Allison Krause
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
"Simple Gifts" is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848, generally attributed to Elder Joseph Brackett from Alfred Shaker Village.
Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.
Alison Maria Krauss (born July 23, 1971) is an American bluegrass-country singer and musician. As of 2019, she has won 27 Grammy Awards from 42 nominations.
Singing for Our Lives—Holly Near
We are a gentle, angry people
And we are singing, singing for our lives
We are a justice-seeking people
And we are singing, singing for our lives
We are young and old together
And we are singing, singing for our lives
This song, written by Holly Near, refers to the assassination of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk. Milk was gay and the two were murdered because of the homophobia of Dan White, a former member of the city supervisors who blamed Milk for his problems.