Marvin Gaye was nearly in tears after singing “The Lord’s Prayer”


“The Prince of Soul” sings a heartfelt prayer in church.

Marvin Gaye’s many contributions to the development of pop music have earned him the title, “The Prince of Soul,” with an effortless tenor that reverberates with a smooth texture. Soul music as a genre developed through the Black community of the mid-20th century, with many of the singers bringing to it styles learned through Gospel church music.

Here we have a rare recording of Gaye’s addition to sacred music, “The Lords Prayer” sung a cappella. Gaye’s renowned voice opens the song in gentle timbre. His melody rises and falls in lilting tones, using deliberate melismatic phrases to continue the melodic movements on individual syllables of the text. One can almost hear an orchestra swelling behind him as he reaches the highest notes towards the end.

The video that was put together around Gaye’s outstanding vocals is spliced with Catholic imagery, adding to the tenderness of the song. Although Gaye is singing in a church, he keeps his voice so humble in his treatment of the text that the high ceilings barely reverberate. You can tell that Gaye was moved by the song, as he is nearly in tears by the end.

Raised in a strict religious Pentecostal sect known as the House of God, Marvin Gaye had a complicated relationship with his faith due to his relationship with his father. His father, a minister within the House of God church, was harshly abusive with Marvin from a young age. Be that as it may, Gaye learned to sing in church and brought those tones to the forefront of the Motown movement. According to HollowVerse, Gaye once commented of his faith:

“I’m the son of an apostolic minister and I know a great deal about God and I’ve been with God all my life and … it sounds a bit hypocritical, but I’m a pretty religious guy.”

In 2009, someone took Gaye’s vocal and arranged a lovely accompaniment behind it, featured below. We especially liked the harmonies that the editor added, as well as a small chorus of female voices who sing around Gaye’s recording.

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