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The Byrds, 'Turn! Turn! Turn!'

  • Taken from Eccelsiastes 3:1.
    'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven'
  • The closing phrase 'I swear its not too late', added by Seeger, helped make the song into an anthem for world peace in the turbulent years of the 1960s

Bob Marley, 'Judge Not'

  • Biblical references:
    Romans 14:4
    Matthew 7:1-4

The Scriptures in Song

A passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes (‘To everything there is a season …’) became a 1960s anthem when The Byrds popularised Pete Seeger’s 1959 song Turn! Turn! Turn! Seeger released his own version of it in 1962. The timelessness and popularity of its message have resulted in Turn,Turn, Turn being covered by numerous bands and artists ever since. Click on the album cover opposite to listen to the Byrds' version.

Another popular song whose lyrics are based on a passage of scripture is Rivers of Babylon (Psalm 137:1-4). First performed by reggae band the Melodians in 1970, it was later popularised by BoneyM (1978) and held No.1 place on the UK charts for 5 weeks.

The KJB has had a great influence of Rastafarian music and is the preferred version as a source of song lyrics. Words of Wisdom is a site ‘dedicated to matching Reggae song lyrics to Biblical quotations’. The best known songwriter and performer of reggae music was Bob Marley (1945-81), lead singer and rhythmn guitaist for the band Bob Marley and the Wailers.

In the country music genre, the title song of Johnny Cash's 2002 album American IV: The Man comes Around quotes and has numerous references to the Book of Revelation and the 'Man' who will come to pass judgment.