Sunday mornings in a Jamaican household have been comically delineated through viral videos over the years. In the scene, there’s always a parent yanking you from sweet slumber, endless chores to be done, and Sister Scully telling you to “Hurrrrrrrrryyyyy uuuuuppppppp!”
Gospel music is as much ingrained in the Sunday ritual as the sound of the pressure cooker, school clothes being ironed, and getting a scoop of your favourite ice cream from the corner shop.
Jamaica formed its own style of recorded gospel music in the 1960s with the “Jam gospel” movement. Pioneers included producers Sonia Pottinger, Byron Lee, Coxsone Dodd, and singers Claudelle Clarke, Otis Wright, Father Richard Ho Long and Adina Edwards.
Regardless of your preference, Sundays would feel incomplete without the choiring of old time or modern reggae gospel emanating from homes, taxis and churches.
Here are 15 iconic Jamaican gospel songs you’ll hear or play today. Nine are available on Apple Music.
Kukudoo, King David
Hai, hai, hai! If we each received $1 for every time we heard this song, we’d all be millionaires. This revival anthem debuted in 2009, and is a staple at every nine night, and many households on a Sunday.
Ketch A Fire, Prodigal Son & Jason Almighty
There is no ill-intention when these men say they wish “somebody soul woulda ketch a fire.” Instead, the uptempo track invites the spirit of Jesus Christ to rid impurities and corruption, or as Jason Almighty puts it, bun dem wid di Holy Ghost! The winning collaborators may also land on your Sunday playlist with Jesus Bigger, produced by former secular hitmaker Danny Brownie.
The Answer, Sandra Brooks
This blessing came to us six years after Brooks decided to leave the iconic gospel group, Grace Thrillers. We all remember those seaside visuals, and her praying on bended knees in her bedroom. Brooks’ Did You Stop to Pray is also Sunday-worthy, as she reminds us how to start our day.
If It’s Not You, Kevin Downswell
Downswell’s powerhouse vocals are belting from someone’s house right now. One of the more emotional selections, this single fosters reflection on God’s grace and mercies, and one’s eternal gratitude and allegiance to serving Him. Downswell gets double play and switches the tempo with You Make Me Stronger.
Hear My Cry Oh God, Marvia Providence
Come on people of God! The Clarendon-native dominated Jamaican airwaves when this debuted in 2005, and even found a special audience at street dances. Fifteen years later, the track still holds its seat at the Sunday playlist table.
I’ll Give My Heart, Jodian Pantry
We all remember the innocence of Pantry in this video and her critical message of the best gift we could ever give our creator – our heart.
Can’t Even Walk, Grace Thrillers
The original single was recorded by Five Blind Boys of Mississippi in 1977, but the Grace Thrillers cover in 1994 hits different.
Hurry Up, Sister Scully
She died in 2015 but her vocals are immortal, especially on this Southern cover which is undoubtedly the official alarm track for Sunday.
Drinking From My Saucer, Jabez
Originally recorded by Michael Combs in 1999, Jabez added his soul-stirring vocals 17 years later in what has become one of his biggest releases. His single A Nuh One Prayer Mi Pray also suits Sundays.
Hold My Hand, Glacia Robinson
She was sceptical when God told her to enter this song into the 1998 JCDC Gospel Competition, but she obeyed and witnessed the song take her around the world. The song is a sure-pick for today, likewise her follow-up It’s Not Over Now.
Hallelujah, Jermaine Edwards
Time seems to stop as Edwards cries sweet praise of surrender on this one. The tears turn to smiles in another Edwards number, Beautiful Day, perfect for resetting the mind for a new week.
Wanna Make Heaven My Home, Robert Foster
Another JCDC Gospel Festival Song entry (1999), this track professes his aspiration of making it beyond the pearly gates.
With Jesus I’ll Make It, Juliet Grant
As one week ends and another commences, motivation to press on with renewed strength is always appreciated. This 2001 release is just that.
I Am Committed, Maxine Duncan
Call it the funeral procession song or not, Duncan’s 2011 ode to Christ resonates with so many people because of its vulnerability and intent.
You Are God, Jermaine Gordon
We round off the list with this gospel anthem, also released in 2011. The lyrics are light in word count, but powerful in message and feel.