The POP (quiz) Gospel According to Michael Jackson
"…a time to mourn and a time to dance"–Ecclesiastes 3:4
By David Buckna
Special to ASSIST News Service
On June 25, 2009 pop music superstar
Michael Jackson died after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 50. Known as the
"King of Pop," Jackson’s songs and innovative dance moves were enjoyed by fans
around the world. Test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to the
music of the Jackson 5 and Michael’s solo career with this 20 question quiz.
1. What was the first song Michael sang in public at age 5?
2. This gentle ballad by the Jackson 5 begins: "You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back". Name it.
3. What carol, first made popular by the Harry Simeone Chorale, appears on the Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)?
4. What was the first single from the Jackson 5’s Skywriter album (1973)?
What video for a song on The Jackson’s Triumph album (1980) was voted
one of the 100 best videos of all time, in a 2001 poll to mark the 20th
anniversary of MTV?
This dance-pop R&B classic from Thriller (1982)–the best-selling
album of all time–includes the lyric: "But the kid is not my son." Name the song.
7. Also from
Thriller, this song’s theme echoes Proverbs 20:3 "Avoiding a fight is a
mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling." Name the song.
What 1985 song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie was
recorded by a supergroup of 45 musicians billed as USA for Africa?
9. A gospel choir is heard on what song from Bad (1987)?
10. What song from Dangerous (1991) promotes racial unity?
This song includes the lyrics:"And you can go by feel/’Stead of
circumstance/But the power’s in believing/So give yourself a chance".
Name the song.
12. On what song does Michael sing: "See the nations turn their swords into plowshares"?
13. What gospel-influenced song from Dangerous resembles a lament psalm?
14. What’s the setting for the 1992 video, Remember the Time?
15. What 1995 ballad centers around the destruction and rebirth of planet Earth?
16. What music video directed by Spike Lee was filmed in Brazil, the streets of Salvador, and a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro?
17. What song from Invincible (2001) asks the question: "And will the sun ever shine in the blind man’s eyes when he cries?"
18. What song did Michael ask pastors Andrae and Sandra Crouch to sing to him just weeks before his death?
When Michael was rehearsing "They Don’t Care About Us" with dancers
during a June 23 session at the Staples Center, a 1963 sound byte from
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was added. What does King say?
20. What was the first song performed at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service? (July 7/09)
1. "Climb Ev’ry Mountain", at Garnett Elementary School in Gary, Indiana
Ev’ry Mountain" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and
Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, sung by the Mother Abbess to
Maria. The inspirational song encourages others to take every step
towards attaining their dreams.
"When I finished that song, the reaction in the auditorium overwhelmed
me. The applause was thunderous and people were smiling; some of them
were standing. My teachers were crying and I just couldn’t believe it.
I had made them all happy. It was such a great feeling. I felt a little
confused too, because I didn’t think I had done anything special. I was
just singing the way I sang at home every night. When you’re
performing, you don’t realize what you sound like or how you’re coming
across. You just open your mouth and sing."
Climb Ev’ry Mountain
"I’ll Be There". The song continues: "Where there is love, I’ll be
there/I’ll reach out my hand to you/I’ll have faith in all you do/Just
call my name and I’ll be there"
the book of Jeremiah, God invites people to call to him:"Call to me and
I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not
know." (Jeremiah 33:3)
"The Little Drummer Boy" (Davis/Onorati/Simeone). Also known as the
Carol of the Drum, Katherine K. Davis first composed the words and
music–transcribed from a traditional Czech carol–in 1941. The Trapp
Family Singers recorded "Carol of the Drum" prior to their 1955
retirement. In 1968, Rankin-Bass produced a stop motion animated
Christmas TV special based on The Little Drummer Boy.
4. "Hallelujah Day".
The Hebrew "hallelujah" combines "hallelu" and "yah," and translates as
"Praise God". The phrase is found in the book of Psalms (such as 113:1)
and four times in the book of Revelation (such as 19:1)
the song: "Somebody found the key/Somebody opened up the door/Now
there’ll be dancing in the streets/This is the day we’ve been waiting
7: 7-8) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock
and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives;
those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
5. "Can You Feel It".
From the song: "Spread the word and try to teach the man/Who’s hating his brother/When hate won’t do"
John 4:20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a
liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen,
cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
The song continues:"’Cause we’re all the same, yes/The blood inside of me is inside of you"
One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism
Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
(Genesis 1:26-27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
6. "Billie Jean".
Jackson says in his autobiography, Moonwalk (1988) that "Billie Jean"
was based on the groupies he and his brothers encountered while part of
The Jackson 5: "There never was a real Billie Jean. The girl in the
song is a composite of people my brothers have been plagued with over
the years. I could never understand how these girls could say they were
carrying someone’s child when it wasn’t true."
Genesis 38:25, Tamar sends a message to her father-in-law, Judah,
saying, "I am pregnant by the man who owns these." [Judah’s own seal,
cord and staff]. Later,Tamar gives birth to twin boys. In Judah’s case,
the kids really are his sons.
7. "Beat It".
out to get you, better leave while you can/Don’t wanna be a boy, you
wanna be a man/You wanna stay alive, better do what you can/So beat it,
just beat it"
"The music video opens with the news of a fight circulating a diner.
This scene repeats itself at a pool hall, where gang members arrive via
foot, forklift, and out of sewers. The camera cuts to a scene of
Jackson lying on a bed, contemplating the senseless violence. The
singer leaves the room upon hearing the
commotion caused by the rival gangs. Donning a red leather jacket,
Jackson dances his way through the diner and pool hall, towards the
fight. Arriving at the scene, the singer breaks up the fight and
launches into a dance routine. The video ends with the gang members
joining him in the dance, agreeing that violence is not the solution to
(Romans 12:18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
8. "We Are the World". ‘We are the children’
(John 1:11-13) He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
(1 John 2:28-29) And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
‘We are all a part of God’s great big family’.
(Acts 13:26) Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.
Ritchie, co-writer of "We Are the World", sang "Jesus Is Love" (from
the Commodores’ 1980 album, Heroes) at the Michael Jackson Memorial
Service with the First AME Church Choir (July 7/09).
"Man in the Mirror" (words & music by Siedah Garrett/Glen Ballard).
Jackson added background vocals from Siedah Garrett, The Winans, and
the Andrae Crouch Choir.
starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his
ways/No message could have been any clearer/If you wanna make the world
a better place/Take a look at yourself and then make a change"
1:22-25) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive
yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do
what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and,
after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they
look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives
freedom and continue in it–not forgetting what they have heard but
doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.
Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine writes: "When people first heard
the studio version, he sounded full of himself. But at the 
Grammys, he took the song to church, with a full-blown gospel
production that stands as one of his most stunning vocal workouts. In a
way, this was as majestic and definitive as the Motown 25 moonwalk."
10. "Black or White". From the chorus: "But, if you’re thinkin’ about my baby/It don’t matter if you’re black or white"
How did different skin colors come about?
11. "Keep the Faith". Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.(Hebrews 11:1)
12. "Heal the World".
2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for
many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against
nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
13. "Will You Be There". The song begins: "Hold me, like the river Jordan/And I will then say to thee/ You are my friend".
Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16)
"Carry me/like you are my brother"
(Isaiah 46:4) I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
"Weary/tell me will you hold me"
139:9-10) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far
side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand
will hold me fast.
"When lost will you find me"
15:3-6) Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a
hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine
in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And
when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.
Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice
with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Near the close of "Will You Be There", Michael speaks the following:
our darkest hour/In my deepest despair/Will you still care?/Will you be
there?/In my trials/and my tribulations/Through our doubts/and
frustrations/In my violence/In my turbulence/Through my fear/and my
confessions/ In my anguish and my pains/Through my joy and my sorrow/In
the promise of another tomorrow/I’ll never let you part/For you’re
always in my heart."
Jennifer Hudson performed the song at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2mVK0–A5E
Ancient Egypt. The music video for "Remember the Time" became one of
his longest at over 9 minutes. It featured groundbreaking visual
effects and an appearance by Eddie Murphy as Pharaoh Rameses
II–believed by many scholars to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
to the Bible, Moses was the leader of the Israelites when they were
delivered by God out of slavery in Egypt. Dr. Paul L. Maier writes: (http://www.equip.org/PDF/DA111.pdf):
"The very name Moses is Egyptian, as witness pharaonic names such as
Thut-mose and Ra-meses….It is true that few remains of encampments or
artifacts from the Exodus era have been discovered archaeologically in
the Sinai, but a nomadic, tribal migration would hardly leave behind
permanent stone foundations of imposing buildings en route."
"Earth Song". Jackson and the Andrae Crouch Choir engage in a back and
forth chant as the song reaches it’s climatic finale. New York Times
music critic Jon Pareles describes "Earth Song" as "a complaint to God
about problems that range from war to endangered whales."
"What have we done to the world/Look what we’ve done/What about all the peace/That you pledge your only son"
Peter 3: 10;13) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The
heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by
fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare….But
in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and
a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
16. "They Don’t Care About Us".
"Some things in life they just don’t wanna see/But if Martin Luther was livin’/He wouldn’t let this be"
the first time in his career, Jackson made a second music video for a
single–also directed by Spike Lee. This second version was filmed in a
prison. It also contains real footage of human rights abuses, such as
the Rodney King beating.
25:44-46) "They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or
thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did
not help you?’ "He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not
do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ "Then they
will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
17. "Cry". The healing of a blind man is recounted in Mark 8.
The Bethsaida miracle – Jesus healing a blind man
Keith Mano writes: "As far as I can judge, this is irrefutable evidence
that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida. Back in 30 A.D. the blind did
not often receive sight: there were few, if any, eye surgeons and
seldom a decent miracle-worker. No shill in the crowd could have faked
it all by
pretending to be blind–because only someone recently given his sight
would see "men as trees, walking," would see the Cubist jumble that
Virgil told Oliver Sacks about. A faker, not knowing about post-blind
syndrome, would have reported that Jesus had given him perfect vision."
18. "It Won’t Be Long", which begins: "It won’t be long, then we’ll be leaving here/It won’t be long, we’ll be going home".
19. "…in what will
go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the
history of our nation." This is part of the opening sentence in King’s
historic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the
Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
I Have a Dream
"They Don’t Care About Us" [rehearsal, June 23/09]
"Soon and Very Soon", sung by the Andrae Crouch Choir. The first verse:
"Soon and very soon we are going to see the King…Hallelujah,
hallelujah, we’re going to see the King."
a massive tour, Michael Jackson reached out to gospel superstar Andrae
Crouch and his minister/musician sister Sandra weeks before his death
[June 30, 2009] http://www.bullypulpit.com/
Lucious W. Smith (Friendship Baptist Church, Pasadena,
California) closed the Michael Jackson Memorial Service (July 7/09):
"Our Heavenly Father, we thank you this day for the memory of Michael
Jackson that means so much to us, even right now. Thank you for the
gift of music that he gave us….Even now, the King of Pop must bow his
knees to the King of Kings, and we pray that you remind us, Lord, that
our lives are but dust, we are here for a moment and then we are gone."
Closing Prayer by Pastor Lucious W. Smith [begin at 2:30 sec. mark]
Freelancer David Buckna produces — THE POP GOSPEL — a column that communicates Judeo-Christian truth to the postmodern culture using a Q & A format. Questions are gleaned from movies, television, music, literature, current events and other aspects of pop culture. Buckna’s previous quizzes for ANS can be found at the ANS Search Archive page, searching for Buckna. Copyright 2009 by David Buckna. THE POP GOSPEL. ** You may republish this story with proper attribution. Buckna reads email at email@example.com
ASSIST News Service
If you listen to his lyrics they are those of a modern day prophet and it beseeches us to listen to him and what he sang. I won’t use words like preaching because that is off-putting, but listen. Listen to his messages. From "Black And
White", "Man In The Mirror". The inspiration behind "We Are The World".
We must take his words of responsibility seriously. We cannot let his
life be in vain / and always done with love. Remember that. Remember
him and thank God for him and his genius.