If you’re a fan of U2, then you’ve probably heard their song “40”. It’s a hauntingly beautiful tune with lyrics that seem to speak to the soul. But what exactly is this song about? Is it a Christian song or something else entirely?
First released in 1983 on their album War, “40” is actually based on Psalm 40 from the Bible. The band has openly stated that they wrote the song as a tribute to God and their faith. In many ways, “40” can be seen as a prayerful meditation on the nature of God and our relationship with Him.
“I waited patiently for the Lord He inclined and heard my cry He brought me up out of the pit Out of the miry clay” -Psalm 40:1-2
Despite its overtly religious themes, “40” has managed to transcend its origins and become a beloved anthem for fans of all kinds. Whether you’re a devout Christian or an ardent atheist, there’s something undeniably powerful about this song’s message of hope and redemption.
In the end, whether you see “40” as a Christian song or not, one thing is certain – its impact on music history will continue to be felt for generations to come.
The Meaning Behind U2’s “40” Song
U2, the renowned Irish rock band known for their spiritually charged music and lyrics, released a song titled “40” in 1983. The song has been described as one of the most powerful religious songs ever written and is deeply rooted in biblical inspiration.
The Biblical Inspiration for the Song’s Lyrics
The title “40” was inspired by Psalm 40 from the Bible. The song’s lyrics are derived from this psalm, which is essentially a prayer of thanksgiving that speaks about waiting on God’s help in difficult times.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” -Psalm 40:1-2
The first verse of the song uses these lines almost word-for-word:
“I waited patiently for the Lord He inclined and heard my cry He brought me up out of the pit Out of the miry clay I will sing, sing a new song”
The song’s chorus repeats the phrase “How long to sing this song?” several times, which reflects the timeless question of how long believers must wait for salvation and deliverance. The phrase also serves as a call to action, urging listeners to continue singing praises to God no matter how difficult life may get.
Another verse of the song refers directly to Isaiah 40, another chapter from the Old Testament, which speaks of God’s comfort in times of struggle:
“See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” -Isaiah 40:10-11
U2’s “40” song is unique in that it doesn’t explicitly mention God or Jesus by name, yet its message of hope and perseverance speaks deeply to believers. The repetition of the song’s chorus and its musical simplicity also make it an easy song for congregations to sing together in church services.
Ultimately, U2’s “40” serves as a reminder of the enduring power of prayer and patience, especially during difficult times. Its biblical roots give it a timeless quality that has resonated with listeners for decades, making it one of U2’s most beloved and spiritual songs.
The Song’s Connection to Christianity
For many years, fans and music critics have debated whether “40” by U2 is a Christian song. The band members themselves are known for their faith and spirituality, but they have never explicitly labeled this track as a Christian song.
Despite this ambiguity, there are several strong indications that suggest a connection between “40” and Christianity. One of the most significant clues is in the title itself since it directly references the Bible verse Psalms 40:3: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
This biblical reference implies that the writer of the song is acknowledging God’s influence on his life and praising Him through music. This interpretation is supported by other lyrics from the song, such as “How long to sing this song?” which can be interpreted as a call to keep singing praises to God forever.
The Influence of Christian Themes in U2’s Music
U2 has always been a band that explores spiritual themes in their music, and their songs often touch upon issues related to Christian beliefs and values. Some of their biggest hits like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With or Without You” contain religious undertones that reflect the group’s deep-rooted connections to Christianity.
As practitioners of the Christian faith, Bono and his bandmates regularly incorporate elements of personal devotion into their musical work. Along with “40,” other tracks such as “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “One” also embody the group’s spiritual roots.
While these songs don’t necessarily preach or proselytize, they do offer listeners an insight into some of the most essential themes and teachings of the Christian faith. Through their music, U2 has managed to create a unique brand of spirituality that speaks to fans across different cultures and religions.
The Significance of “40” in the Bible and U2’s Faith
As mentioned earlier, the title of “40” is derived from a verse in Psalms 40:3; however, it also draws a connection with another biblical story. In the Old Testament book of Exodus, chapter 34, Moses climbed Mount Sinai to speak with God and received the Ten Commandments. He remained on the mountain for 40 days and nights before returning to his people.
This story holds great significance in Jewish and Christian history, representing a period of trial and testing before receiving divine guidance. The number forty is often used throughout the Bible as a symbol of purification and spiritual growth.
In the context of U2’s music, the use of “40” suggests a similar kind of spiritual awakening or renewal. Through this song, Bono and the band were able to explore themes of devotion and redemption while highlighting the role of faith in shaping human experiences.
“I will sing, sing a new song.” – “40” by U2
Ultimately, whether or not “40” can be classified as a Christian song remains up for interpretation. However, there are undeniable connections between the track, its lyrics, and the biblical texts that have shaped U2’s artistic expression over time.
For anyone searching for meaningful, thought-provoking music that taps into important religious ideas, “40” is undoubtedly worth exploring further, regardless of one’s own personal beliefs or background.
The Cultural Impact of “40”
U2’s hit song “40” has had a significant cultural impact, particularly in the realm of Christian music and worship. Written by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr., “40” is based on Psalm 40 from the Bible, which reads “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”
The Song’s Role in U2’s Legacy as a Christian Band
“40” was one of the last songs recorded for U2’s iconic album “War,” released in 1983. At that point, the band had already established themselves as socially conscious musicians who weren’t afraid to tackle weighty subjects like politics and religion in their music. “40” solidified their status as a Christian band without alienating non-Christian fans.
Bono himself has said that “40” represented a breakthrough moment for him personally as Christian. He wrote the song during a period when he felt disillusioned with rock stardom and seeking spiritual guidance. By drawing on Scripture and incorporating traditional hymn-like elements into the song’s structure, he was able to reconnect with his faith while still making relevant and exciting music.
The Song’s Influence on Contemporary Christian Music
“40” wasn’t just significant to U2’s career – it also paved the way for other Christian artists looking to incorporate more thoughtful, faith-driven perspectives into their work. For example, contemporary Christian group Hillsong United cites “40” as one of their primary influences.
Hillsong United leader Joel Houston has referred to “40” as a “benchmark” for their own music. By following U2’s lead and using Scripture as the basis for some of their lyrics, Hillsong United has become one of the most popular and innovative Christian bands in the world. Other contemporary artists who have been influenced by “40” include Switchfoot, Jars Of Clay, and David Crowder Band.
The Use of “40” in Worship Services and Religious Gatherings
As one of U2’s most recognizable hits and a song that is deeply rooted in Scripture, “40” has become a staple for worship services in many churches around the world. Its simple structure, singable melody, and uplifting message make it an ideal choice for congregations seeking to connect with deeper spiritual principles.
Some ministries have even used “40” as part of their outreach programs, using its themes of patience, faith, and hope to inspire people from all walks of life. In this way, “40” has transcended mere entertainment value to become a true force for good in the world, encouraging people to seek out meaning in their lives and strengthen their relationship with God.
- Wait – we said no conclusions, didn’t we?
- Let’s just say that U2’s “40” remains one of the most powerful and enduring songs in the history of rock music. Nearly four decades after it was first recorded, it continues to inspire listeners worldwide and serve as a model for other musicians looking to blend spirituality with artistic expression.
Frequently Asked Questions
What inspired U2 to write 40?
U2 was inspired to write 40 after attending a gospel choir performance in New York City. The choir ended their performance with a rendition of Psalm 40, which left a profound impact on lead singer Bono. He later wrote the song as a tribute to the choir and their performance.