"Baby Can I Hold You Tonight" by Tracy Chapman

Though the title doesn’t indicate a song about forgiveness, it expresses that sometimes an embrace can convey more than words. And sometimes, it’s easier to ask for and more healing to receive.

“Sorry… is all that you can't say.  Years gone by and still words don't come easily…like sorry, like sorry.
Forgive me… But you can say, “Baby can I hold you tonight?”
Maybe if I told you the right words, at the right time you'd be mine.
I love you … is all that you can't say.  Years gone by and still words don't come easily….”

Written by Tracy Chapman, “Baby Can I Hold You Tonight” was released in 1988. It has since been covered by artists as diverse as Neil Diamond, the British band Boyzone, and as a duet with opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.

Hard to Say I’m Sorry by Chicago

This song also recognizes the need to ask an embrace to feel forgiven.  It also acknowledges our desire to make amends, beyond the apology. 

“Hold me now…It’s hard for me to say I'm sorry.  I just want you to know.
After all that we've been through, I will make it up to you, I promise to.”

Written by Chicago band member, Peter Cetera, and producer David Foster, it was released in 1982 as the lead single from the album Chicago 16. It spent two weeks at number one and was featured in a film soundtrack.

The Heart of the Matter by Don Henley

This song identifies that forgiveness is at the heart, the center, of broken relationships. And that even when we think we’ve let those experiences go and moved on, the wound may not be healed until we can forgive.

“I've been trying to get down to the Heart of the Matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter, but I think it's about forgiveness. Forgiveness! Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.
There are people in your life who've come and gone, They let you down and hurt your pride.
Better put it all behind you; life goes on…You keep carrying that anger, it'll eat you up inside.”

Written by former Eagle, Don Henley, for his 1989 album The End of the Innocence, it was covered by soul singer India.Arie in 2006 and stage and television actress Megan Hilty in 2013. Featured in television and film, it is said to have been inspired by a Graham Greene novel, and subsequently inspired another novel’s title.

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word by Elton John

Apologizing may be difficult because of the vulnerability of admitting that we were wrong. It can feel like a position of weakness, but taking responsibility can free us from burdens and give us strength to move forward with more authenticity.

“It's sad, so sad. It's a sad, sad situation, and it's getting more and more absurd.
Why can't we talk it over? Oh it seems to me that “sorry” seems to be the hardest word.”

Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and released in 1976 it was revived in 2002 when the song was covered by the British band Blue. Elton John sang on the track as well and the collaboration hit number one, 26 years after its first release.

All Apologies by Nirvana

Sometimes merely being willing to accept all the blame for a situation helps others lower their defenses. Stripped of the need to defend, explain or justify, they are freed to see their part in the situation. It is their choice. When we allow ourselves to accept our shadows, we become whole and are healed.

“What else should I be? All apologies. Everything is my fault, I'll take all the blame.
All in all is all we are.” 

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain wrote the song which was released in 1993. Nominated in 1995 for two Grammy Awards, and included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".

All is Forgiven by Jellyfish

This song seems to express the conflict that continues when a reconciliation is not complete.  One may say they have forgiven, but issues continue come up for healing.  

“Though he soured the milk of human kindness…All is forgiven.
Yes he tries to hide the cross he bears, but splinters, like the truth have always risen.
All is forgiven.
Though he shelters in the shade of the wings of a stool pigeon…
All is forgiven”

This power-pop song comes from second album from the San Francisco-based band Jellyfish called “Spilt Milk”, released in 1993.

Thank You by Dido

The majority of the song is about a really rough day, but the gratitude comes when the singer comes home to the person in her life who offers her a safe harbor. When we are grateful for what is truly meaningful, the small annoyances fade away.

“I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life.
Oh just to be with you is having the best day of my life.”

Written and performed by English singer-songwriter Dido, it was first heard in 1998, on the soundtrack of the film Sliding Doors.  Released as a single in 2000, it became the biggest hit on the album No Angel.  The song's first verse is featured as the chorus in the Eminem song "Stan".

Thank U by Alanis Morissette

When we take the time to reflect on all of our experiences, we can see that good has come from it all. What may have seemed a negative thing at the time, could later be seen as a necessary step in a process that ultimately led to a greater good than would have been possible otherwise. 

 “Thank you India
Thank you Providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you, thank you silence”

Canadian singer-songwriter, Alanis Morissette, wrote this for her fourth album in 1998, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Written by Morissette with Glen Ballard, who produced 1995’s Jagged Little Pill, she wrote the song after she came back from India. The music video featured Morissette walking nude in different streets in Los Angeles.

I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton John

Too often we assume that others know how we feel about them. One of the strongest and most basic desires we all have is to know that we are loved. And to be able to offer that to someone, with no expectation of having the feeling returned is a gift.

“I love you, I honestly love you…this is pure and simple and you must realize
That it's comin' from my heart, and not my head…
I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, I'm not trying to make you anything at all
But this feeling doesn't come along every day, And you shouldn't blow the chance
When you've got the chance to say I love you, I honestly love you.”

Written by Jeff Barry and Australian composer Peter Allen; it also appears in the musical about Allen's life, The Boy from Oz. The song won Newton-John two Grammy Awards in 1974. The song was Newton-John's first number-one single in the United States and Canada.

Thank you for Loving Me by Bon Jovi

"Thank you for loving me
For being my eyes
When I couldn't see
For parting my lips
When I couldn't breathe
Thank you for loving me
When I couldn't fly
Oh, you gave me wings
You pick me up when I fall down
You ring the bell before they count me out
If I was drowning you would part the sea
And risk your own life to rescue me"

Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, it was released in 2000. Bryan Adams did a cover version of this song in 2003. Jon Bon Jovi shared in an interview that the song’s title was inspired by the portrayal of death incarnate, a character played by Brad Pitt in the film Meet Joe Black.

5 Songs You Didn’t Realize Were Christian
Many of us have sung their songs a million times without even knowing they had a Christian message. Read next feature >
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