Country artists' references to religion can range from "so subtle that you don't notice it until you're Googling the meaning behind the lyrics" to "as overt as you can get." But no matter their visibility, religious references in country music are plentiful, to say the least.
Everyone from Hank Williams to Carrie Underwood has mentioned God and faith in a song; in fact, religion and country music are so intertwined that the Inspirational Country Music Awards are held each year. So, The Boot has rounded up our favorite country songs about faith -- the musical reminders of the values that run deep through the genre.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "As they nail me to this tree / Just know my Father waits for me / God, how can this be your will / To have your son and my son killed?"
Evans and Paisley sang this song for the soundtrack to the film The Passion of the Christ. They take on the roles of Mary and Jesus through the lyrics, and the pair's flawless harmonies and emotionally charged delivery make this a favorite, particularly around Easter.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "I believe there are angels among us / Sent down to us from somewhere up above / They come to you and me in our darkest hours / To show us how to live, to teach us how to give / To guide us with the light of love."
Alabama released this song as a Christmas single over 20 years ago, from their album Cheap Seats. But while they intended for the tune to be a holiday hit, we think the lyrics are thought-provoking 365 days of the year.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "So I'll cherish the old rugged cross / 'Til my trophies at last I'll lay down / I will cling to the old rugged cross / And exchange it someday for a crown."
The Man in Black was such a fan of this traditional hymn that he included it on three albums: Sings Precious Memories, Sings With the Goodpasture BC School and Believe in Him (on which he recorded the tune as a duet with Jessi Colter).
Faith-Filled Lyric: "His fingerprints are everywhere / I just slowed down to stop and stare / Opened my eyes and man, I swear / I saw God today."
This No. 1 hit from Strait's Troubadour CD chronicles the spiritual awakening of a man while his baby girl is being born. It's a poignant reminder of looking for everyday miracles, such as "a flower growing in the middle of a sidewalk" and a sunset with "a splash of amber melted into shades of red."
Faith-Filled Lyric: "Go rest high on that mountain / Son, your work on earth is done / Go to Heaven a-shoutin' / Love for the Father and the Son"
Gill wrote part of this song following the 1989 death of his good friend Keith Whitley. But it wasn't until Gill's brother succumbed to a heart attack four years later that he finally finished writing the tune. Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs harmonize on the track, which is still played on country and Christian radio stations -- and at countless memorial services.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "I'm finding more and more truth / In the words written in red / They tell me that there's more to life / Than just what I can see / Oh, I believe."
This thought-provoking single chronicles the story of an older man who uses his life lessons to teach a young boy about faith as he grows into adulthood. The lines "I can't quote the book / The chapter or the verse / You can't tell me it all ends / In a slow ride in a hearse" sum up the everlasting message of this poignant song.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "Jesus, take the wheel / Take it from my hands / 'Cause I can't do this on my own / I'm letting go / So give me one more chance / To save me from this road I'm on / Jesus, take the wheel."
Underwood's debut single and her first No. 1 hit, this song tells the heartwarming story of a woman who loses control of her car when she hits an icy patch with her baby in the backseat. The near-accident serves as a wake-up call to return to her faith, a moment echoed in Underwood's 2014 song "Something in the Water."
Faith-Filled Lyric: "This old world of ours is full of troubles / But this world would, oh, so better be / If we'd find more Bibles on the table / And mothers singing 'Rock of ages, cleft for me'"
From the country legend's 1960 album Cup of Loneliness, this classic song gives us a brief glimpse into a time when the end of the day meant that "Dad would read to us from the family Bible / And we'd count our many blessings one by one."
Faith-Filled Lyric: "There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway / Why there's not four of them, Heaven only knows / I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you / It's what you leave behind you when you go."
This country classic tells the emotional tale of the redemption of a prostitute, who is the sole survivor in a tragic accident that claims the lives of a farmer, a teacher and a preacher. She uses the preacher's "blood-stained Bible" to turn her life around.
Faith-Filled Lyric: "But when I get where I'm going / And I see my Maker's face / I'll stand forever in the light / of His amazing grace."
Death isn't so scary ... if you have faith. The lyrics of this song beautifully -- and with vivid detail -- describe the afterlife. Using imagery such as "I'm gonna land beside a lion / And run my fingers through his mane" and "I'm gonna walk with my granddaddy / And he'll match me step for step," Paisley and Parton paint an enticing picture of Heaven.