Peace songs

Peace is now, and always has been, a universal aspiration. In this season, we bring together music from across cultures that expresses this striving to find more harmony than dissonance: with friends, families, communities, or even just within ourselves.

Peace, a state to which each person and every society aspires, is universally acknowledged as something worth striving for. In a world often marked by chaos and discord, music has the remarkable power to bring people together, transcending boundaries, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity. This playlist navigates the concept of “peace” in all its complexities and subjectivities, through diverse musical styles and cultural influences, offering a perspective on what ‘peace’ might mean to an individual, a nation or the world.

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill’s ‘Everything Is Everything’ infuses the playlist with a soulful and empowering vibe. Released as part of her critically acclaimed debut album, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,’ the song combines elements of R&B, hip-hop, and gospel. Its message of resilience and optimism resonates, encouraging listeners to find peace within themselves despite life’s challenges.

John Lennon

No playlist about peace would be complete without John Lennon’s iconic ‘Imagine.’ Released in 1971, the song envisages a world without countries, religion, or possessions. Lennon’s simple yet profound lyrics are complemented by a beautiful piano melody, making it a timeless anthem for unity and peace.

West-Eastern Divan orchestra

The playlist ends with a powerful orchestral piece by Elgar (‘Nimrod’ from the Enigma Variations) played by the West-Eastern Divan orchestra. This pan-Middle Eastern ensemble was conceived by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said, not because they thought it would bring peace, but rather because it offered a creative space for the prerequisites of peace – mutual understanding, patience and curiosity – to grow.

This concert was performed in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in 2007. The orchestra defies borders and brings together courageous musicians from across the region – Palestinians, Israelis, Egyptians, Jews, Muslims and Christians – to play and perform together in the spirit of tolerance and unity.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify, or in the Music Gallery on Tuesdays in December at 3.30pm.