Traditional and Inspirational Songs About Hope and Bravery

Updated on March 20, 2020
AliciaC profile image

Linda Crampton has loved music since childhood. She plays the piano and recorder, sings, and listens to classical, folk, and early music.

Music can open the door to new ideas and feelings.
Music can open the door to new ideas and feelings. | Source

The Wonder of Music

Music has the mysterious and often wonderful ability to influence our emotions, sometimes profoundly. It can calm us down when we're agitated, comfort us in times of sadness, and inspire us when we need help. Some genres may be more meaningful than others for certain listeners. Folk and traditional music are two styles of music that I enjoy. Sometimes they do more than entertain me. The pieces in this article cover the themes of hope and bravery, two qualities that can be very useful in life. The songs and the performers have interesting backgrounds that are worth exploring.

A Luther memorial in Wittenberg
A Luther memorial in Wittenberg | Source

How Can I Keep From Singing

"How Can I Keep From Singing?" was originally a Christian song. The folk singer Pete Seeger removed the overtly religious references from the song during the 1960s but kept the inspirational theme. Seeger's version is the one sung below. An alternate name for the song is "My Life Flows on in Endless Song", which is the first line in each version. Unlike several of the songs in this collection, this one is sweet and pensive rather than triumphant.

The music is said to have been written by an American Baptist minister named Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1826–1899). This assumption may not be accurate. Lowry supervised the publication of many hymnals. He may have collected the tune instead of writing it himself.

The identity of the lyricist is even more uncertain than that of the composer. According to the first source in the "References" section below, the lyrics were published in the New York Observer in 1868 and were attributed to a woman named Pauline T.

"The New York Observer" refers to two newspapers. One was published from 1987 to 2016 and then transitioned to an online publication. The other was published in the nineteenth century by a geographer and journalist named Sidney Edwards Morse.

Meaning of the Lyrics

In the original lyrics, the singer says that despite "earth's lamentation" and "the tumult and strife" of life, they can hear people singing a hymn in the distance. As they listen, they can't help adding their voice to the choir. Over time, they find that the "peace of Christ" helps them to deal with life's problems as they continue to sing in gratitude.

The idea of inspiration and gratitude are still present in the version of the song in the video below, though the source of the inspiration is vague apart from a line about a fountain springing from deep within the Earth. In the original lyrics, the fountain comes from Christ. Nevertheless, the modified version still contains lines that could suggest an unearthly source of the inspiration.

Despite its name, Celtic Woman is a group of women instead of just one person. In the video above, Eabha McMahon is the singer.

Scotland the Brave

"Scotland the Brave" is often considered to be an unofficial national anthem for Scotland and is very popular. It was published around 1911 but was likely common before that time. The music is often played on the bagpipes without lyrics. Lyrics do exist, however. They were written by Cliff Hanley in 1951. The chorus is shown below. In the second line of the chorus, "hame" means home.The rest of the lyrics praise Scotland, its natural history, and its people.

Towering in gallant fame,
Scotland my mountain hame,
High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
Land of my high endeavour,
Land of the shining river,
Land of my heart for ever,
Scotland the brave.

A second set of lyrics has also been created for the piece. This version is sung by John McDermott, one of the original members of the group known as The Irish Tenors. The lines above are taken from the original lyrics of the song.

The music in the video above is performed by the pipe band of the Royal Tank Regiment in Britain. In the video below, Robert Wilson sings the original lyrics. He was a Scottish tenor who died in 1964.

Óró, Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile

"Óró, Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile" is a traditional Irish song. The word "Óró" is a cheer. The rest of the title welcomes someone home. The "someone" is a woman named Gráinne Mhaol or Grace O'Malley, a person who actually existed. In the song, she is returning to Ireland and is accompanied by a group of Irish soldiers. The song expresses the eager hope that she will "disperse the foreigners" (the English) from the country.

The real Grace O'Malley is often referred to as a pirate queen. She appears to have been an assertive and courageous person who was successful in many of her goals. She lived in the sixteenth century and was an atypical woman for that period. Grace owned multiple ships and led many men. Part of her life involved fighting the English, as the song suggests. This fight was very important for the Irish people, who wanted to govern themselves.

Mary Black is an Irish vocalist who sings folk and contemporary songs. One of her goals is to introduce Irish music to an international audience.

Mo Ghile Mear or My Gallant Darling

"Mo Ghile Mear" is another Irish song. In English, it's known as "My Gallant Hero", "My Gallant Darling", or "My Dearest Darling". The hero or darling in the song is Bonnie Prince Charlie, though he's not mentioned by name. The singer laments the loss of the prince.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720–1788) was the grandson of King James Vll of Scotland, who was also King James ll of England. Charles' father was living in exile in France but believed that it was his right to rule Britain. George ll (a Hanoverian) occupied the throne at the time.

While he was a young man, Charles went to Scotland to obtain the throne for the Stuarts by force. The Stuarts were Catholics and the Hanoverians were Protestants. Many Irish people supported Bonnie Prince Charlie and his cause. They believed that having a Catholic monarch would lead to a better life in Ireland.

Charles failed in his attempt to gain the throne. The Battle of Culloden in 1746 was the decisive event that defeated the prince and his forces. Charles used various disguises as he tried to escape from Scotland. He was eventually able to return to France, where he lived until he was sixty-eight.

Though the song honours Charles as a hero, I think that some of the brave people who helped him also deserve to be recognized. Many people lost their lives during the attempt to gain the throne for the Stuarts.

Orla Fallon is the singer in the video above. She's from Ireland and was once a member of Celtic Woman. She's a harpist as well as a vocalist.

Hope the Hermit Folk Song

"Hope the Hermit" is an old English folk song. People alive today remember singing it in their childhood, but it appears to be slowly fading into history. I think that's a shame. The song was published in The National Song Book, a 1906 collection of British songs edited and arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford. The book was intended to be an educational one for students studying music in schools.

The lyrics describe a wise and elderly hermit who lives in a forest. People from far and near visit him and are cheered by his advice. He tells them that:

The very longest lane,
Has a turning, it is plain,
E'en the blackest of clouds will fly.

The chorus repeats the theme of hope.

Though to care we are born,
Yet the dullest morn
Often heralds in the fairest day

Some of the other songs in this article may be more supportive when life is hard, but I think "Hope the Hermit" is an enjoyable piece of music.

Corrine Coles is a vocalist who has uploaded multiple folk songs on her YouTube channel. She sings some of the songs on the channel, including the one above.

The Lord's Prayer by Andrea Bocelli

The Lord's Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13 in the Bible. The Bible is divided into sections called books."Matthew" is one of them. The Lord's Prayer is located in Chapter 6 and verses 9 to 13 in Matthew. Another version is given in Luke 11:2-4. The instruction to say the prayer is given by Jesus, which makes it important for many Christians.

The choir, orchestra, and soloist in the video below give a beautiful and soaring depiction of the prayer. The music and perhaps a feeling of something greater than ourselves may be inspiring even for people who aren't Christians. Even if this isn't the case, the music may be very enjoyable.

The words of the prayer vary slightly in different traditions. The last four lines in the version that I'm familiar with are shown below. They're sung as a triumphant climax in the video below.

For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Andrea Bocelli is an acclaimed tenor who has been blind since childhood. He was born in Italy and is popular internationally.

Land of Hope and Glory

"The Proms" is an eight-week celebration of classical music in the UK. The celebration was started in 1895. It takes place in summer and early fall in London and involves multiple events. Many of these events take place in the Royal Albert Hall, but some happen at other locations, including outdoor ones. The word "prom" is short for promenade concert. The term was once used for concerts in which the audience walked around a park as they listened to music.

A popular event for many people happens on the last day of the celebration. It's known as the "Last Night of the Proms" and is televised by the BBC. The music consists of light and patriotic classics. Part of the tradition is that the audience joins in the chorus of the patriotic songs, waving flags as they do so. I watched the event on television multiple times when I lived in the UK and always loved it.

"Land of Hope and Glory" is a popular piece that is often included in the event. The music was written by Edward Elgar. The piece is actually known as Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D major and was published in 1901. The poet A.C. Benson wrote the lyrics for the melody. The first line of the lyrics is sometimes used as the name of the whole piece.

I always found the soaring melody of the song exciting when I heard it at the Proms. Today the lyrics could be criticized for their excessive nationalism, but they matched the mood at the time when they were written. The first four lines are shown below.

Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?

The conductor in the video above is David Robertson. He currently conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Magic of Music

The response to a piece of music may not be the same in everyone who hears it. Fortunately, the world of music is very wide and includes many styles for listeners to explore. If one genre is unappealing, others will almost certainly be attractive.

Music has much to offer in the way of personal enjoyment and inspiration. The quotation below from soprano Lesley Garrett sounds very accurate to me. I don't know what prompted the statement, but I love the thought.

That was when I realized that music is the most profound, magical form of communication there is.

Music can certainly be magical. It's a wonderful art form and method of communication. Hope, bravery, history, and many other topics can be presently very effectively in a musical form. Even when a listener perceives no message in a piece of music, listening to it can create memories that last for a long time.


Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Linda Crampton


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      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        7 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Hi, Dianna. I find the first piece that you mention inspiring, too. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        7 days ago

        Love the Lord's Prayer version you posted. Very inspiring. The celtic music always brings a sense of calm to listeners.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        8 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Yes, isolation could be a major problem for some people at this time. I hope the situation improves soon.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        9 days ago from UK

        That's a very good point, Linda. Sadly it tends to be the older generation who don't have internet. At a time like this it could help ease their isolation.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        10 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much for the comment and for sharing your experience, Jason. I hope you stay safe, too.

      • Nicoartz profile image

        Jason Nicolosi 

        10 days ago from AZ

        Hi, Linda great article. I loved every video. However, I'm actually a big fan of  Andrea Bocelli. I have even had the privilege of seeing him live. It was amazing. I love the video of him singing the Lord's Prayer. Thanks so much for this article. It was inspirational and uplifting. Stay safe and healthy.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        10 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you for the comment, Dora. I appreciate your visit.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        10 days ago from The Caribbean

        Apart from the Celtic Woman singers and The Lord's Prayer by Andrea Bocelli, the songs and singers are new to me, but I enjoy being introduced to them and the facts surrounding them. Thank you.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        11 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Hi, Liz. Thanks for the kind comment. Some of the churches in my area live streamed their Sunday service, too. There are a lot of options for maintaining a semi-normal life at this time for someone who has access to the Internet. I worry about the people who don't have Internet access, though.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        11 days ago from UK

        I think we all could do with listening to some of these at the moment. The local village church live streamed services on Sunday. The hymns used were very moving and inspirational. Music is a powerful medium. As usual you have put together a beautifully structured and interesting article.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        12 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much for the visit and the interesting comment, Nell.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        12 days ago from England

        Hi Linda, I love this. I always play my Irish and scots music, and these choices were wonderful. I noticed there was a McDermott mentioned in there somewhere which made me smile as that is my Scots family name or at least one of them. I totally enjoyed this, thanks

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        12 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you for the lovely thought and comment, Mitara.

      • MitaraN profile image

        Mitara N 

        12 days ago from South Africa

        Aside from writing, music prides itself with feelings and expression that fills the soul with its meaning.

        Great choice of music, and such a pleasure reading your article

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        13 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thanks, Devika. I love the idea that music can enlighten the soul.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        13 days ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        Hi Linda this is amazing to know of and read from you. Music that enlightens the soul and in a good time too.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much for the comment, Linda.

      • lindacee profile image

        Linda Chechar 

        2 weeks ago from Arizona

        These are wonderful songs. The musical songs are beautiful among hopefully and soulfully. I've enjoyed them all!

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Hi, Bill. Hope is important at this time. I think that music is important in more ways than one.

        Blessings to you as well, Bill.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Hi, Raymond. I appreciate your visit and comment very much.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much, Bill. I hope you and your family stay safe, too.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you for such an interesting comment, Manatita. I hope you have a good weekend and stay safe.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Thank you for sharing these, Linda. I like the message of hope, and what better way to deliver it than in music.

        Blessings to you always, my friend.

      • raymondphilippe profile image

        Raymond Philippe 

        2 weeks ago from The Netherlands

        Linda, what a beautiful collection of songs and very applicable in this day and age.

      • bdegiulio profile image

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Some of these songs I had never heard before, but they are beautiful. There really is something magical about music no matter what genre you enjoy. Stay safe and have a great weekend, Linda.

      • manatita44 profile image


        2 weeks ago from london

        A great food for the soul is music, and you have done an excellent job in bringing this to us. I love folk and traditional music, but some of them also do have a deeper 'soulful' sound, that is to say, they appeal to the soul -- the real in us.

        Didn't even know that Borcelli was blind. What a beautiful Spirit and God-sent too. There were a couple of woman in the videos who also stood out for me and they naturally did the most soulful pieces.

        Musical is actually the language of Love and seen from an esoteric standpoint, the universe is nothing but music. yet we have to elevate to the level of the Seers and Rishis to hear this. Another necessary Hub for us in these troubling times.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I love that version of the Lord's Prayer, too, Peggy. Like you, I think it's beautiful. I appreciate your visit and comment.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        This is another great compilation of songs. I was listening to the first video as I was scrolling down. When I saw the one by Andrea Bocelli singing the Lord's Prayer, I had to immediately listen to that one. It is so very beautiful! Thanks!

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much, Flourish. I hope that you and your family stay safe, too. We're fine at the moment. I hope it stays that way.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        2 weeks ago from USA

        this is very appropriate right now given what we are facing. The songs are lovely and uplift the spirit. I really like Celtic Woman. I hope you and your family are well and stay that way.

      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thanks, Denise. I appreciate your visit and comment. Blessings to you as well.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        2 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Wow, you did a lot of research here. Some of these songs I've never heard of before and I'm richer for hearing them now. Thank you.



      • AliciaC profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Crampton 

        2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much for the comment, Pamela. I hope you have a great weekend, too.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        This is such an interesting article. I love the bagpipes in the second video and I also really like the Lord's Prayer. It is hard to Andrea Bocelli singing the Lord's Prayer. I really loved all the music and all the other information.

        Have a great weekend, Linda.


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