Social Justice Beats

by Katie Brick

“Hammer and a Nail” by the Indigo Girls came through my car radio this weekend. I was whisked back to doing community service – or thinking about doing service – in my 20s. And then I thought about theme songs from various DePaul Service Immersion Trips I’ve been on.

With new Spring Service Immersions just around the corner, and DCSA and Loop Community Service happening all the time I’d like to share my top 5 songs about service and invite YOU to add to the list via the comments!

In no particular order (and mostly stuck in a pop groove so do add hip hop, metal, show tunes, whatever):

“Hammer and Nail” by the Indigo Girls – fresh as a spring breeze while you’re painting on a service site.


“A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring.”

 “Blessed to Be A Witness” by Ben Harper – Introduced to this one by students on a service trip to the slums of Guayaquil, Ecuador, where we encountered families living on garbage dumps, tens of thousands of people living in shacks with no running water, and Jenny, a local activist who looked everyone in the eye and demanded, “¿Por qué estás aquí?” (Why are you here?).


“Only by the grace of God go I.
I am blessed to be a witness.”

 “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye – I remember this from being a kid and its call to action seems just as timely now with #BlackLivesMatter, continuing war, and fears putting us at odds with compassion and solidarity. You have to have an interest in ‘What’s goin’ on’ to get involved.


“Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying.”

  “You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals – My older brother, whose life is incredibly difficult right now and all about service, recently put this on a mix for me. It’s catchy.


“Wake up kids
We’ve got the dreamers disease.”

  “Hands” by Jewel. Yes, Jewel. It’s in the same genre as “Hammer and Nail,” granted – so share your own genres in the comments, and enjoy this in the meantime.


“We are God’s eyes
God’s hands
God’s mind
We are God’s eyes
God’s hands
God’s heart”


Katie Brick is the Director of the Office of Religious Diversity at DePaul University.

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