As Catholics begin the holiday weekend. The same questions appear to come up over time. Are the boys Catholic or Protestants?
Throughout U2’s career, faith struggle has been a recurring theme in their music. Bono, a child of mixed Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, has explored his spiritual self through U2’s life in the spotlight. In his music, he frequently cites scripture and recounts personal periods of hope and despair, faith and doubt, temptation and grace — all characteristic of a Christian worldview. The spiritual messages behind the band’s lyrics are so prevalent that some places of worship have used the band’s music in services called U2charists, in an attempt to reach out to a younger crowd. From Boy, the band’s first album, to the newly released No Line on the Horizon, issues of faith continue to manifest themselves in U2’s music.
No Line on the Horizon may be one of their most spiritual albums to date. The band’s 12th studio album, Horizon was five years in the making, the longest gap U2 has ever had without a CD release. With a considerable amount of time put into the album, U2 aimed for reinvention. Bono told long-time collaborators Brian Eno and Daniel Lanoios that he wanted an album of “futuristic spirituals,” and the largely experimental Horizon was the result. The band wrote and recorded the album all over — spending time in Dublin, New York, London, and Fez, Morocco. Lyrically rich, Horizon is new and fresh while still remaining classically U2, complete with a spiritual restlessness, concern for social justice, and more than a hint of nonsense.
So how is it possible that a group who put out their first album years before most of my classmates were born still carries relevance for young people? The themes in U2’s music transcend age, as they continue to explore love and its meaning, relationship with the divine, sin and forgiveness — with their signature humor and hint of irreverence. Their songs contain a depth that allows for reflection and interpretation.
The band’s spiritual side was evident during their performance of “Magnificent” that morning. A long, instrumental lead-in built up to the release of Bono’s booming voice, “I was born/I was born to sing for you/I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up.” As Bono closed his eyes and reached up to the sky, audience members witnessed what seemed like his personal conversation with God — Bono’s acknowledgment of God’s gift of music. Later, he highlighted the strength of divine love, “Only love/Only love would leave such a mark/Only love/only love can heal such a scar.”
From our view, we see nothing wrong with introducing faith, love and hope into music. Happy Easter U2 Fans.