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6 Songs About Forgiveness to Sing When You Don’t Have the Words

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The transition into a new year always feels like a ripe time to make drastic changes to my life. While I have never been big on New Years resolutions, I will never deny my desire for a new year to bring new growth. Whether that is improving my diet, removing myself from toxic environments, improving my self-care practices, or even doing more research about therapy, I know there is a lot of self-improvement to be done.

That being said, none of these changes are easy to make. The emotional and mental ones, in particular, actually wind up being just as hard (if not harder than) the physical ones. And an aspect of life that I think we can all agree is difficult to change is asking for and granting forgiveness.

As Michael Stevens writes, “Being forgiven feels good, but letting things go feels even better. Holding grudges takes more energy than allowing yourself to move forward.”

Forgiveness is not only important for the person being forgiven, but it is also essential for the one doing the forgiving. Setting yourself free from pain or disappointment caused by others is an act of self-care; you are harboring that weight just as much as the transgressor. But again, none of this is easy. And sometimes you need a little added help. Enter these six songs about forgiveness, apologizing, and moving forward.

Music, specifically songs about forgiveness, can be medicine. Sure we blast tunes when we are having a great time with our best friends, but we also lean on them to get through our worst times. Sometimes, it is difficult to conjure up the right words to share with a person expressing your forgiveness of them or requesting forgiveness from them, so it only makes sense that we turn to songs about forgiveness.

Fortunately, over the past few decades, an array of amazing artists have churned out songs that span genres.Regardless of whether you are a fan of pop and hip-hop or rock’n’roll and musical theater, there are definitely a few songs out there for you.

“Hello” by Adele

Hello from the other side

I must've called a thousand times

To tell you I'm sorry

For everything that I've done

But when I call you never

Seem to be home

“Hello” should also be on a list of best songs to loudly (and in my case, badly) sing along to in the shower. In addition to the song’s beautiful production and Adele’s booming, beautiful voice, the lyrics are extraordinarily powerful.


“Sorry”—Justin Bieber

Yougottago and get angry at all of my honesty

You know I try but I don't do too well with apologies

I hope I don't run out of time, could someone call a referee?

'Cause I just need one more shot at forgiveness

I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice

By once or twice I mean maybe a couple of hundred times

So let me, oh let me redeem, oh redeem, oh myselftonight

'Cause I just need one more shot at second chances

Don’t let the virality of this song fool you, J. Biebs’ 2015 megahit is filled with lyrics that actually pack a big emotional punch. In them, he admits his wrongdoings and begs for redemption. While it is safe to assume that Bieber was singing about a romantic relationship, this act of humility is necessary to move forward in all kinds of relationships—whether you fear you have disappointed a friend, a parent, a child, or a co-worker.


“4:44”—Jay Z

Do I find it so hard

When I know in my heart

I'm letting you down everyday

Letting you down everyday

Why do I keep on running away?

Look, I apologize, often womanize

Took for my child to be born

See through a woman's eyes

Few people know more about the importance of songs about forgiveness than rap mogul Jay Z. In fact, he made a whole album chocked full of them! One of those songs is “4:44” in which he openly admits to being unfaithful to his partner—apologies are weaved in almost every stanza. And while we will never know what happened behind closed doors of his relationship,Jay Z’s public admission of guilt was an admirable step for such a monumental figure and role model.


“How to Save a Life”—The Fray

Where did I go wrong?

I lost a friend

Somewhere along in the bitterness

And I would have stayed up with you all night

Had I known how to save a life

This uber-popular song was originally inspired by a troubled teenager who The Fray’s lead singer Isaac Slade met while working as a mentor. Today, the song is a global anthem for anyone going through difficult times themselves or grappling with the difficulty of supporting a depressed friend or family member.


“If I Could Turn Back Time”—Cher

Too strong to tell you I was sorry

Too proud to tell you I was wrong

I know that I was blind, and darling

If I could turn back time

If I could find a way

I'd take back those words that hurt you

And you'd stay

Cher is a living goddess and must be protected at all costs! She is not, however, perfect. In “If I Could…”, Cher longs for a clock that will take her back in time—back before she made mistakes, and back before she caused another person pain. The reason this is one of her most well-known songs is because it is one of the most relatable. We have all wanted to take back our words or actions at some point or another. Since this is not possible just yet, admitting to those mistakes will continue to be the first step.


“It’s Quiet Uptown”—Hamilton the Broadway Musical

There are moments that the words don't reach

There's a grace too powerful to name

We push away what we can never understand

We push away the unimaginable

They are standing in the garden

Standing there side by side

She takes his hand

It's quiet uptown

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

Forgiveness, can you imagine?

This track is one of my favorites from the multi-award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton. It comes at a delicate time in the musical’s narrative (I promise I won’t give any spoilers) when a character has to grant the ultimate forgiveness to a person she loves. Use this song as a “sorry” to all the musical theater lovers in your life and there is no doubt in my mind that they will get the message.