Somewhere along the way, many church pastors have given their flocks the notion that romantic music is only for other people. You know—the unsaved, the unsanctified. However, there would be a lot of empty vacation Bible school camps if the parishioners weren’t occasionally making some love connections of their own.
So, for the faithful, we’ve compiled a loving armful of songs with a passionate, spiritual flavor to put the average church deacon or president of the usher board in a romantic mood on Valentine’s Day—or any other time when the mind, body, and spirit are willing. We’ll just call these ditties the love songs that even a preacher can love, since a couple of them are performed by preachers. And, if it’s possible to get your praise on while also getting it on, these are the songs to help make it all happen.
1. “Satin Sheets” – Bishop T.D. Jakes ft. Marvin Sapp (1999)
Sapp is definitely not singing about his Lord and Savior on this soulful, old school, R&B invitation to make love to his wife on satin sheets. The Grand Rapids, MI pastor calls her “baby,” and performs it with the gruff passion and showmanship of the late Gerald Levert. Sapp could have certainly been a convincing soul singer, had he chosen that route.
2. “Tonight Tonight” – Bebe & CeCe Winans (2000)
Now, the sibling duo may have been singing of a higher power on this R&B-styled ballad, but this is also pretty close to a booty call. “Tonight, tonight, I want to see you tonight,” they sing in a seemingly seductive style. It’s a beautiful expression of love, but it’s up to your imagination to decide whether this is a carnal or divine situation.
3. “Sunday Kinda Love” – Israel Houghton ft. Aaron Lindsey, PJ Morton & Nikki Ross (2013)
This is a warm, happy, mid-tempo, hand-clapping celebration of love from the Ja Rule film, I’m in Love With a Church Girl.
4. “I’m Yours” – Bryan Andrew Wilson (2014)
The spiritual soul singer does a `60s flashback, with this Austin Powers-styled retro number, with swirling wurtlizer, upright piano, and old school background vocals. He’s singing about his love of God, but one can easily slip one’s boo into the song and equally enjoy it.
5. “Just When” – Vickie Winans ft. Marvin Winans (1991)
Gospel music’s erstwhile Will and Jada never recorded a love song during their marriage, but this soulful ballad comes close enough. Vickie’s sultry, Anita Baker-like low notes and dazzling high notes, mesh beautifully with Marvin’s smooth as chilled ice vocal tone.
6. “Anything” – John Stoddart (2003)
The singing pianist displays a tortured melancholy on this instantly engaging pledge to “do anything for you, if you only ask me to” for this rousing, mid-tempo soul number with a soft bed of strings backing him. This is an understated but, nonetheless, powerful anthem to fidelity and love.
7. “Dedicated” – Nicholas (1985)
Like Marvin and Tammy or Roberta and Donny, Phil and Brenda Nicholas gave the gospel world a solid decade of hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s. On this smooth R&B balladry, they sing of their love for each other as husband and wife in the sight of God. It sparkles with the same dark but evergreen charm that distinguishes `70s era down-tempos by The Emotions, Deniece Williams, and Earth Wind & Fire.
8. “My Lady and Myself” – Fred Hammond (2012):
The divorced singer ponders a past love on this tender, jazzy song, shining with echoes of `70s- era groups such as The Stylistics or The Dramatics. “We’ve weathered storms before, been through challenges galore, now we’ve become two instead of one,” he sings to God in explaining the separation between himself and his woman. He wants her back and seeks help from Heaven to bring her back home.
9. “With You” – J.R. (2005):
This St. Louis native came up on the Christian hip hop scene, and was given a national platform through his association with the influential group, The Cross Movement. There’s nothing hip hop about this finger-snapping, silky, soul ballad where J.R. (Courtney Orlando Peebles) sings of the euphoric feeling he gets when he communes with God.
10. “Spiritual Thang” – Eric Benet (1996)
From his first solo album came this masterful ode to love. “Seems like God had a reason to bring your love to me,” Benet sings on this R&B head-bopper, in which he shows off both his Stevie Wonder-styled vocal approach and his high-pitched squeals.
11. “Breaks Your Heart” – C West (2017)
The new kid on this musical block, the 19-year-old acoustic guitarist from Buffalo, NY bridges folk and soul music on this airy, uplifting atonement to God for his past wrongs. “If it breaks your heart, let it break my heart,” he sings on the toasty tune.
12. “The Lady, Her Lover, & Lord” – T.D. Jakes ft. Shirley Murdock (1999)
Book-ended with Bishop Jakes’ sensual baritone narrating the story, R&B legend Shirley Murdock’s bright voice sings the joys of a romantically contented woman on this engaging track.
13. “My Everything” – Briana Babineaux (2016)
The 22-year-old Cajun beauty with the big voice sings of giving up everything for a relationship with God, on this smooth jazz performance that finds her singing with hearty emotion and a deep love.