Echoes of Faith: Exploring the Christian Undertones in Enya’s Music

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Enya’s music has often been associated with Christian themes and influences, although she herself has not explicitly identified as a Christian artist. In terms of religion, she considers herself as “spiritual not religious.” That said, there are pleny of Christian references in her music. Lets take a look and see if we can pick up on some of the “echoes of faith”!

Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin was raised in a Catholic household in Ireland. Her mother was a church choir instructor, and Enya sang in the church choir as a child. This early exposure to sacred music likely shaped her musical style.

Several of Enya’s songs contain lyrics with Christian references. Here are my favorites, most of them with Christmas themes:

Athair Ar Neamh (The Memory of Trees, 1995) is a hymn that translates to “Father in Heaven” in English. Here is the first verse:

Athair ar Neamh. Dia linn.
Athair ar Neamh. Dia liom.
M’anam, mo chroí, mo ghlóir,
moladh duit, a Dhia.
Father in Heaven, God help us.
Father in Heaven, God help me.
My soul, my heart, my voice
praise to you, oh God.

 

Sancta Maria from Dark Sky Island is a beautiful instrumentation of the liturgical prayer Ave Maria.

Oíche Chiúin (And Winter Came, 2008) is a setting of the Christmas carol Silent Night in Irish Gaelic.

Adeste Fideles (Amarantine, 2005) is a rendition of the traditional Christmas hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful in Latin.

It is no wonder that Enya’s music has been widely used in various Christian contexts. Songs like Evening Falls and Only Time have been used to evoke a sense of divine presence or mark significant moments in Christian rituals. It is not just her vocal works like the above, but also her instrumental pieces have been played during church services.

Enya’s music draws inspiration also from Gregorian chants. For instance, her song Pax Deorum (Peace of the Gods) borrows heavily from the monastic Gregorian chant style.

Last but not least: How Can I Keep From Singing? from Shepherd Moons (1991).

[Verse 4] No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

But even when focusing on Christian references in Enya’s music, I have to mention the use of ancient Celtic languages and how they reflect Enya’s Irish heritage. It is just as important. Also, when talking about Enya we must also mention the writing and compositions of Nicky and Roma Ryan. The music also reflect their faith and cultural backgrounds. 

In conclusion: While Enya has not explicitly identified as a Christian artist, her music resonates with Christian audiences due to its spiritual themes. However, her music transcends religious boundaries. Enya’s music has always appealed to a much broader audience. “Spiritual but not religious” is perhaps the best label to use on most of her material.

Verse 3

Echoes in rain
Drifting in waves
Long journey home
Never too late
Black as a crow
Night comes again
Everything flows
Here comes another new day

[Chorus] Alleluia, alle-alle alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia
Alleluia, alle-alle alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia

Above picture by s_bukley 1997 – copyright Bigstockphoto. Used under license.