Comedian Steve Martin: ‘Atheists Don’t Have No Songs’
Christians have joyful, stirring songs that celebrate the wonder of our relation with God. This is especially true during the Christmas season with songs such as the spine-tingling Handel’s Messiah. In contrast to this, in 2011 comedian Steve Martin performed a song on The Late Show with David Letterman that he called “the entire atheist hymnal” (on one page of paper). He called it: “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.”
Christians have their hymns and pages,
Hava Nagila’s for the Jews,
Baptists have the rock of ages,
Atheists just sing the blues.
Romantics play Claire de Lune,
Born agains sing “He is risen,”
But no one ever wrote a tune,
For godless existentialism.
For Atheists there’s no good news.
They’ll never sing a song of faith.
In their songs they have one rule:
The “he” is always lowercase.
Of course, his humor is meant to entertain us—and does. But what a contrast to a piece of music that moves hearts and masses across the board. Handel’s Messiah is arguably one of the most mellifluous expressions of Christian doctrine ever produced.
In fact, I think it makes all the sense in the world that both inexplicable tears and profound joy accompany the words and sounds of Handel’s Messiah. For this Messiah brings with him an invitation unlike any other: Come and see the Father, the Creator, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Come and see the Light, and the Overcomer of darkness, the One who wept at the grave of a friend, and the one who collects our tears in his bottle even before he will dry every eye. Christians, let’s sing our songs!
Jill Carattini, “Random Hallelujahs,” RZIM: A Slice of Infinity (12-16-16)