2020 was a hard year on musicians, but Catholic artists came through in a big way.
The year is coming to a close and Aleteia has assembled a year-in-review of some of the best Catholic songs we’ve heard this year.
There is no denying that 2020 was hard on musicians. Social restrictions forced every one of them to cancel their tours and take their live performances online. Even with the pandemic hurdles, however, there were a number of great releases from Catholic artsts.
Some of them released full-scale albums, while others produced isolated videos on YouTube. Whatever the methods, Catholic musicians really came through during the long months of isolation. Their songs were a comfort to the faithful who were forced to go so long without church music, or church itself for that matter.
We’ve listened again to every song that we heard this year and have gathered a short list of some of our favorites. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in one article to cover every artist we’ve seen in 2020. The selected works were chosen for their general accessibility, memorable melodies, and evangelical value. Please note, this list is not a ranking and artists appear in no particular order.
Aleteia’s Top 10 Catholic songs of 2020
“Sing Redeeming Love” – The Hillbilly Thomists
The Hillbilly Thomists recorded this rendition of “Sing Redeeming Love” in isolation at the beginning of the summer. The work is a fun bluegrass tune with a great energy and a timeless melody. The fiddle solo is top notch and their vocal harmonies are really tight. Rumor has it that The Hillbilly Thomists are soon to release a new album, on which this song may appear.
“You Are Good” – Dana Catherine
Dana Catherine released this tune in March, during the height of the world pandemic. The song is organized like a hymn, with a simple melody in the verse and an easy-to-learn chorus for sing-alongs. She noted that she wrote the song with a friend a while back, but felt that the pandemic was the best time to bring it out.
“SHADE” – Brother Isaiah
2020 saw Brother Isaiah release a new full length album, La Luz. Produced by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the work follows in Br. Isaiah’s established contemplative style. With bouncing guitar rhythms and fast-paced lyrics, Brother Isaiah says a lot in just a three-minute song. Brother Isaiah plays guitar and sings on every track of this unique solo album.
“Belovedness” – Sarah Kroger
Catholic artist Sarah Kroger released a full album this summer, called Light. While the work contains quite a few fantastic tracks, our favorite was “Belovedness.” The song contains a beautiful sentiment about accepting one’s place in God’s heart, and it is expressed through a melody that sounds as natural as if we’d heard it a thousand times before. Exceptional Catholic songwriting at its best.
“Only by Grace” – Fr. Rob Galea
Fr. Rob Galea did not have an official release this year, but he made dozens of recordings from isolation. “Only by Grace” is a hymn that Galea wrote years ago that he rerecorded for the pandemic. The tune draws on “Amazing Grace” and expands upon it. We especially liked how he ended it with the Lord’s Prayer.
“The Assumption” – Siervas
Siervas, the South American-based musical sensation made up of nuns, came back with a song for the Blessed Mother. They released this tune “The Assumption” in August, just before the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The song carries with it the jubilant faith that Siervas always brings to their songs. The music is so cheerful you can almost see the group of nuns smiling as they sing.
“Up Again” – DUPREE
DUPREE came out of nowhere and blew us away in 2020. Led by a mother and son, Lauren and Dylan Dupree, this band is making truly remarkable music. Not only are their melodies incredibly memorable, Dylan Dupree plays jaw-dropping guitar solos. It’s also really fun to watch the astounded look on his mother’s face whenever he plays. While they are not expressly Catholic, they are too good to keep off this list.
“Caminemos con Jesús” – Tony Alonso
Our most unexpected entry is Caminemos con Jesús, a collection of Cuban-styled Catholic hymns. The work, produced by Tony Alonso, a professor from Emery University, was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Written in the “son Cubano” style, the songs are sung in both English and Spanish. The work drew together some fantastic musicians, with excellent piano solos from the composer.
“Light for the World” – Poor Clares of Arundel
The first album of The Poor Clares of Arundel came in 2020 and reached #1 on both he Official Classical Artist Albums Chart and the Official Specialist Classical Chart. It is considered to be the most successful album ever to be released by a religious order, and for good reason. Every single track of this 16-song album is transcendent, with exceptional vocals from the sisters. It’s hard to believe they had never recorded anything before, and we can’t wait for their next release.
“Little Drummer Boy” – For KING & COUNTRY
The four-time Grammy Award winning Australian Christian duo For KING & COUNTRY has released its first Christmas album, A Drummer Boy Christmas. The work was eight years in the making and it shows in its exceptional quality. Each of the Christmas carols they cover opens up with original melodic lines that flawlessly meld into the classic melodies. They also made two new wonderful additions to the Christmas catalog: “Heavenly Hosts” and “The Carol of Joseph.” The album is an instant classic, so be sure to check it out.