Looking for Song Suggestions: Name that Sin/Virtue/Gift

music notes

Many years ago, when I was teaching a Confirmation class, I came up with an activity to teach about the Seven Deadly Sins, the Seven Virtues, and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit using music. In essence, I identified “contemporary” songs that speak to each of these items—yes, 21 songs. The gist of the activity is for catechists to play segments of these songs and invite the young people to match them to the appropriate deadly sin, virtue, or gift of the Holy Spirit.

While, in fact, some of the songs in the activity are “timeless classics,” and some really hit the nail on the head, I thought it would be fun and helpful to update many of the songs to reflect more of what might be considered “contemporary” to today’s young people. Here is the original chart:

Deadly Sins


Gifts of the Spirit

Pride: excessive focus on self

Alice Cooper: “I’m the Coolest”

Faith: focus on God

U2: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

Courage: the strength to focus on God in the face of challenges

Bob Marley: “Get Up, Stand Up”

Envy: resentment of others

Hilary Duff: “Who’s That Girl?”

Charity: love of God and others

Black Eyed Peas: “Where Is the Love?”

Right Judgment: seeking the advice of others, giving advice to others

The Beatles: “Help!”

Anger: uncontrolled hatred, acting without thinking

Nickelback: “Just For”

Prudence: the ability to think before acting

Carrie Underwood: “Lessons Learned”

Knowledge: learning to think as God thinks

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord”

Avarice: excessive desire for wealth and abundance

Beatles: “Money”

Justice: a desire to make sure all can share in God’s abundance

USA for Africa: “We Are the World”

Wonder and Awe: marveling at the abundance of God’s love

Lee Ann Womack: “I Hope You Dance”

Gluttony: excessive desire for food and drink

Dave Matthews Band: “Trippin Billies”

Temperance: balancing what you want with what you need

Goo Goo Dolls: “Better Days”

Wisdom: recognizing what God wants for us and others

The Byrds: “Turn, Turn, Turn”

Lust: sexual desires that disrespect the dignity of others

John Mayer: “Your Body is a Wonderland”

Fortitude: the strength to resist excessive desires

Aaliyah: “Journey to the Past”

Reverence: respect for God and others

Jagged Edge: “Respect”

Sloth: lack of hope in God’s goodness

Reliant K: “Apathetic Way to Be”

Hope: confidence in God’s goodness

REM: “Everybody Hurts”

Understanding: recognizing God’s goodness

Johnny Nash: “I Can See Clearly Now”

I think the best way to update this activity is through a little bit of catechist crowdsourcing, especially since I am even more out of touch with contemporary music than I was when I created the original activity! I invite you to suggest songs that today’s young people would consider “contemporary,” while being sure, of course, that the songs do not contain any explicit lyrics (even though some of the songs, especially for the seven deadly sins, may have negative messages). Suggest as many or as few songs as you choose. You may even consider assigning this to your young people as a project, since they know the musical landscape better than most of us!

Please use the “Leave a Reply” feature below to share your suggestions. If and when I get enough solid new suggestions, I’ll re-issue the chart.

About Joe Paprocki 2739 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

5 Comments on Looking for Song Suggestions: Name that Sin/Virtue/Gift

  1. Thank you so much for all you do. I am going to enjoy doing this activity with my students and I will pass it on to others.

    Peace and Good

  2. What a fabulous idea!
    Before I retired from teaching full time, one of our community building events included an activity to introduce in a creative way someone you admired. I chose my best friend who had a brain bleed in 2001 and was not expected to survive but today lives with personal care support 22 years later. I focused on her courage and perseverance in my presentation. All this explanation to tell you that the first song that comes to mind is Andra Day’s Rise Up. It reminds me of my friend each time I hear it. It was first played in 2016 so it’s not as current as some you might receive but certainly conveys the meaning of Courage. One more aside, on August 10, 2023 we gathered for the 22nd annual celebration of “The Day Stephen Saved Lynne’s Life” (Stephen was her neurosurgeon and, unbeknownst to him at the time, she was his first grade teacher!). God wasn’t done writing her story.

    • Thanks for the inspiring story of your friend Lynne and for the song suggestion! May the annual celebrations continue for years to come!

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