Writer’s note: I don’t actually intend to write an in-depth anatomy of Elvis Presley’s religious journey nor his Christian views. I would just like to highlight some of his soulful performances that can either bring goosebumps or make you meditate on your spiritual state. By watching these performances, I leave the judgment up to you. Whether you see him as a man who sang for his faith, or a rock star who sang gospel songs for entertainment.
The wonder of Elvis Presley
“All I want is to know the truth, to know and experience God. I’m a searcher, that’s what I’m all about,” Elvis told a friend late in life.
Elvis Presley was a pauper’s son who became the King of Rock and Roll; a dirty-poor Pentecostal kid whose love for Southern gospel music propelled him to secular fame, fortune and folly; an evangelical entertainer of deep, abiding and conflicting faith who wore a cross and a Star of David, prayed and meditated, sang spirituals and read The Tao Te Ching. (The Tao Te Ching, along with the Zhuangzi, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism.)
Elvis inspired a new generation of Americans to take up the guitar and sing sweet soulful melodies about love. You can see his influence in many Hollywood movies and his imprint in the mannerisms of actors in films recorded after his death, in millions of vinyl recordings, in the yearnings of girls the world over when they saw him flexing his hips and pulsating his upper lips. The legend of Elvis Aaron Presley is quite unbelievable – and it lives on in pop culture all over the world, worth billions to those that care.
But beyond the superstar status, and the gifts that he lavished on those he knew and loved, he loved Gospel music and held the message of Jesus close to his heart.
Here are some of his performances that exemplified how much he poured his heart in singing songs about faith and God.
How Great Thou Art Live 1977
Why Me Lord (Live in Memphis 1974)
Perhaps Elvis was asking what could be God’s purpose in giving him a powerful voice. He has a lot of reasons to be thankful, and he expresses his gratitude through this song.
Elvis Presley – Bridge Over Troubled Water
The song itself has an intense message of compassion towards another person, but with Presley singing it with his unique style, it makes you feel the pain that this world is going through, and feel the sympathy towards humanity at the same time.
Elvis Presley – Glory Glory Hallelujah
A perfect worship song delivered with a sincere attitude of worship, what more can add to this?
The Old Rugged Cross
Again, the voice of Elvis Presley singing this version of Old Rugged Cross brings us back to that Cross where our freedom is redeemed.
So, after watching these videos, what’s your verdict about Elvis’ Presley’s faith?
Bridge Over Troubled Water, Elvis Presley, Glory Glory Halleluiah, how great thou art, old rugged cross, why me lord