On the faith beat: What's spiritual about the Beatles?

  • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2012 - 7:36 PM

When you think of spiritual music, Stevie Wonder or the Pointer Sisters may not immediately come to mind.

But give some of their tunes a closer listen and you may hear a spiritual message. That's the idea behind the music at Unity Christ Church in Golden Valley, where musicians have restyled songs from those pop icons and others -- revealing what they say is a sometimes unnoticed spiritual message.

The choir's new season starts Sept. 16, and at both Sunday services members will cover the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and "Help."

"There's so many great pop songs that are universal spirit songs," said Judi Donaghy Vinar, who serves as choir director at the church.

While it's not uncommon for churches to incorporate contemporary Christian music into their worship services, it's not often the likes of the Doobie Brothers or James Taylor can be heard in the pews. But that's just what you'll find at Unity.

Vinar said the church is "spiritual and philosophical" and part of the New Thought movement. That means it "embraces all religions" and is open to a variety of music stylings.

"The essence of our church is God is best translated as the word 'love,'" she said. "So a lot of love songs translate as a result."

Vinar and her music partner at the church, Lori Dokken, stick closely to songs' original melodies and lyrics in their restyling. The lyrics from pop songs often reflect or enhance the message being heard from the church pastor, Vinar said.

At past services, the choir has sung "I Just Want to Celebrate" by Rare Earth. One line in the song, "I just want to celebrate another day of living," is a "universal spiritual lyric," Vinar said.

"I'm a musician by trade and I've worked in the commercial music industry," she said. "I happen to have a real affinity for songs that are uplifting, instead of the 'He done me wrong' kind of song.

"My experience from playing in clubs was that's what the customer wanted to hear too. And we were able to easily translate that to Sunday morning."

Rose French • 612-673-4352

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