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The role of Scripture in U2 music and lyrics

A quote from One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God:

If U2 had only recorded Psalm 40 on an album and then used it as a standard concert closer for a number of years, it would have been remarkable in the world of rock and roll. Yet their creative use of Psalm 40 is only the tip of the iceberg as I begin this section considering the role of Scripture in the studio and live music of U2 over the years.

Many songs include either direct quotations or allusions to specific passages of scripture. For example, in the powerful live performances of “The End of the World” from their early 1990s album Achtung Baby, Bono plays the part of Judas and the Edge plays the role of Jesus as they explore this great story of desire and betrayal from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14. And on their 2004 album How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the song “Crumbs from Your Table” is a direct reference to parables from the Gospels of Matthew, chapter 15, and Luke, chapter 16, that set a tone for the song as a whole.

They’ve quoted the Scriptures all along in songs, interviews, and in live performances, but the influence of Scripture runs deeper still. The Scriptures have so deeply shaped the way they speak that the quotation marks often fall away. The Scriptures offer poetic modes of truthful speech about God and the world.

Without a sense of the wideness and wildness of the Bible, you can still love U2 as a great rock and roll band. Yet without that sense of Scripture in U2’s work, you would miss how, again and again, U2 is pointing beyond themselves to a deeper dimension of life, the dimension of the soul, where one meets face to face with, in Bono’s words, “a force of love and logic behind the universe.”
– Source: Christian Scharen, One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God

 

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