Playlists | June 3, 2024

Playlist: Pacifism on repeat

A Church of the Brethren Anti-War playlist
by Cornelius Raff, BVS Volunteer at the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

As we find ourselves in the midst of conflict and war, in a world of escalating violence and civilian despair in many parts of the world, including the home countries of many of our international congregations, finding resilience and tranquility sometimes seems impossible.

With a long tradition of embracing and living peace in the teachings of Jesus, we tirelessly oppose all aspects of war through our personal lives and in our communities, and our advocacy as denomination.

Since the beginning of time, people have written music and sung songs to deal with trauma and to send political messages through the spirit of their compositions and music. 

Therefore, addressing pressing political events and sentiments to reflect inner feelings and using art to speak out, sometimes very explicitly, sometimes with a more layered and metaphorical approach, has always been a core part of not only music but all kinds of art, especially around issues of war and anti-militarism.

Some anti-war songs, such as “99 Luftballons” by Nena, lament certain aspects of war, while songs such as “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath or Green Day’s “Holiday” satirize war through the use of twisted metaphorical imagery and allusions. 

Most promote peace in some form, while others sing out against specific armed conflicts.

One of the most famous examples of an international anti-war song is “99 Luftballons” by German singer Nena. The song addresses the escalation of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation in the 1980s by telling a fictional story of military escalation caused by nothing more than 99 red balloons mistaken for military aircrafts.

Other songs depict the physical and psychological destruction that warfare causes to soldiers, and also emphasize its threat and harm to innocent civilians and humanity as a whole. 

Many of these songs are considered protest songs, and some have been embraced and used by war-weary people, various peace movements, and peace activists.

Feel free to use this playlist as a resource in your congregation, community or just enjoy the beauty and thoughtfulness of these songs by yourself. 

It also includes several songs sung and written by Church of the Brethren members. 

Thanks to the wonderful multi-instrumentalist Jacob Crouse who helped adding songs by Brethren artists for his wide-ranging musical knowledge.

To listen to the Spotify list, you will need to create a (free) account.

Spotify playlist

YouTube playlist

Table of contents for the June 2024 issue of Messenger
Table of contents for the June 2024 issue of Messenger

The June issue of Messenger contains an article on U.S. military spending. The full June issue of Messenger is only available to subscribers.

Do you have thoughts on these playlists? Send an email to to make comments or suggestions.

Would you like to curate a playlist for a future issue of Messenger?  Let us know at