I grew up thinking (and singing) a lot about heaven. The little Baptist churches that raised me – in Oklahoma and Kansas – made a big deal of the “right time.” Later in life, for a season in my twenties, I convinced myself that thinking too much about heaven was somehow bad. All those old songs and sermons on heaven were quaint comforts but theologically unsophisticated and perhaps counterproductive. If we think too much about heaven, I thought, wouldn’t that make us indifferent to our task on earth? Wouldn’t that make the glorious beauty of this world, and the dignity of the work to which we have been called, less glorious and less worthy?
I don’t think that anymore. As I have matured in life and in faith, I agree more and more with CS Lewis, who said, “If you read history, you will find that Christians who the most made for the present world were simply those who thought most of the future. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.
Contemplate the sky, sing it, desire it. . . . These are good things. To be oriented around the eternal is to be more joyful in the temporal. Ironically, we are more productive and contented when we see ourselves as pilgrims here, with heaven our true and permanent home. This perspective also provides ballast and endurance in times of suffering or contexts of oppression. In privileged and very comfortable places, it can be easy to think less about the sky. But for those who suffer or experience injustice, the thought of heaven is a necessary balm.
Our worst times on earth should ignite our hearts with hunger for heaven. But so are our best moments. The most piercing and powerful experiences of beauty, goodness and truth in this life are only echoes and flickers from heaven, after all. “They are but the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of an air we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited before”, writes Lewis.
Our worst times on earth should ignite our hearts with hunger for heaven. But so are our best moments.
So live in that spirit, embracing the beauty of this world, not in spite of our eyes fixed on the sky, but because of it.
One way to do this is to fill our ears with music that gives our hearts a celestial tone. There are countless songs that speak directly or indirectly of paradise, but the following are 57 of my favorites.
I collected them as a playlist on Spotify and Apple Music, and you can see the song list below.
In good times and bad, may these songs stir your soul to yearn for heaven, with gratitude for the future that Christ has assured us: “An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and does not fade” (1 Peter 1:4)
1. “That Day”, CityAlight
2. “One Day”, Cochren & Co.
3. “Someday (when we all get to heaven)”, Matt Redman
4. “What a day”, Phil Keaggy
5. “O day of peace that dimly shines”, Claire Holley
6. “In this great waking morning”, Harry Belafonte
7. “Almost Home”, Matt Boswell, Matt Dad
8. “Soon and Very Soon”, Andrae Crouch
9. “If I Get to Heaven”, John Van Deusen
10. “Pilgrim”, John Mark McMillan
11. “The High Country”, Caedmon’s Call
12. “After the Last Tear Drop”, Andrew Peterson
13. “Until Those Tears Gone”, Young Oceans, Harvest
14. “Where the streets have no name”, U2
15. “Heavenly Song”, Phil Wickham
16. “Revelation 22:20-21,” The Corner Room
17. “Granted in Heaven”, Beautiful Eulogy, Josh White
18. “Jesus, the Joy of Man’s Desire”, Josh Groban, Lili Haydn
19. “When We See Your Face (Live)”, Sovereign Grace Music
20. “Paradise is in our sights”, Citizens, Shea Salisbury
21. “Dreaming of Eden”, Tenielle Neda
22. “In the West”, Annie Lennox
23. “Paradise”, The Gray Havens
24. “In Paradise”, Rachel Wilhelm
25. “In Paradisum (Requiem, Op. 48: VIII)”, Gabriel Fauré
26. “Eternity”, Joshua Leventhal
27. “The Holy City”, Mahalia Jackson
28. “New Jerusalem”, vertical worship, Jon Guerra
29. “Revelation Song (Live)”, REVERE, Citizens, Mission House
30. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, Ghost Ship
31. “When We All Get To Heaven”, Clara Ward
32. “We shall feast in the house of Zion”, Sandra McCracken
33. “Milky White Way”, Elvis Presley
34. “Gold”, Mixtape for the Milky Way
35. “See You Soon”, The Gray Havens
36. “Meet Me in Heaven”, Johnny Cash
37. “Heaven is my home”, The Soul Stirrers
38. “Sing Me to Heaven”, Daniel E. Gawthrop
39. “Great Joy”, Thad Cockrell
40. “There Will Be a Day (Isaiah 2)”, Caroline Cobb
41. “A Place Called Earth”, Jon Foreman, Lauren Daigle
42. “No Night There”, Mahalia Jackson
43. “Behold”, Mission House
44. “In the soft by and by”, Dolly Parton
45. “On the Bright Shore of Heaven”, Alison Krauss and Union Station
46. ”Anthem of Heaven”, Phil Wickham
47. “Face to Face”, Zach Williams
48. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, Sam Cooke
49. “Hope”, James Newton Howard
50. “O Day of Peace”, Josh Garrels
51. “Forever with the Lord”, Songs of Grace
52. “When we all get to heaven”, throwing wreaths
53. “There is a higher throne”, Keith and Kristyn Getty
54. “All Hail the King of Heaven”, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa
55. “Revelation 19:1,” Sunday Service Chorus
56. “Is he worthy?”, Andrew Peterson
57. “Worthy is the Lamb. . . Amen (The Messiah)”, George Frideric Handel