Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff -– they comfort me.
One of my all-time favorite songs is the single “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West.
Originally, when West presented the demo for “Jesus Walks” to record producers, they told him that it would never make it to radio because it was not marketable to the general public. But they were wrong: at the 47th Grammy Awards it won the Grammy for best rap song, and over a decade after its release, the song continues to resonate with listeners like myself.
It begins with a sample of a chant from the ARC Choir’s recording of “Walk With Me.”
“Jesus walks! Jesus walks with me.”
Because religion is so personal, it becomes especially relevant when you examine it through lenses that directly impact your own life, because those are what make sense to you. For West, his faith is strengthened when he addresses issues like police brutality and racism, and that is what makes this song so passionate and authentic. West also expresses his most vulnerable emotions regarding his relationship with God, rapping, “I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid, cause we ain’t spoke in so long.”
The special thing about this song is the way in which it also evangelizes directly to the listener. There’s a part of the song wherein Kanye lists people from traditionally challenging walks of life and addresses them personally, saying, “Jesus walks with THEM!”
In my opinion, it is the best hymn of my generation. West reminds his audience that when life becomes difficult, Jesus still hears them and is with them:
“Now hear ye, hear ye, want to see Thee more clearly.
I know he hear me when my feet get weary.”
As we go on and continue our pilgrimages of life, that is the most important reminder we can have.
Content warning: “Jesus Walks” contains explicit language and discusses difficult themes.
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