Singing rock music to preach the gospel is no new concept. People have been doing it for many years—even rock’n’roll pioneers like Elvis Presley sung about the word of God.
In the ‘90s came Switchfoot, Relient K, and even Creed, which were popular rock bands that some fans probably didn’t even know were often singing about Christianity. In fact, the word “creed” means a religious formula stating a shared belief of a religion. (Though the band states they never considered themselves a Christian band, they all confess to being strongly Christian, and if you grew up in the ‘90s, then you probably have heard a few of their top songs like “With Arms Wide Open” or “My Sacrifice,” which all deal heavily with religious themes.)
That being said, introducing a group of nuns in Peru who get together to sing about God might not seem too groundbreaking, but let me assure you, this is different.
Say hello to Siervas; they’re nuns who rock out on stage fully decked-out in complete nun attire, singing about the hand of God and having faith. They’ve traveled the world touring, they have a music video with over 700,000 views, they’ve performed for over 200,000 people (including Pope Francis), and they’ve already got two full-length records out—and, of course, all of their earnings go to charity.
Due to the raucous reputation that has surrounded rock’n’roll ever since it first began to gain popularity in the ’50s, it took the church some warming up to start realizing the medium’s ability as a preaching tool. Even though Elvis sang the gospel every now and then, the church didn’t exactly endorse him—not only were his dance moves far too sensual, but his lyrics were also chockfull of allusions to sex. Even the term “rock and roll” came from an old school slang term that meant to have sex.
If you’ve ever listened to rock’n’roll, then you probably already know that many of the major themes that run throughout the music are sex, drugs, and rebellion. In Michael Haynes’ “The God of Rock: A Christian Perspective of Rock Music,” he even adds the themes of false religion and Satan.
BTRtoday spoke with Phelipe Herrera Espaliat, Diocesan Priest of the Archdiocese of Santiago, Chile. Not only has he dedicated his life to serving the Lord, but he also uses rock’n’roll to proclaim the word of God.
“I absolutely agree with using rock to spread the gospel,” Espaliat says. “It’s a genre of music, a means, not an end, so if that helps to touch people’s hearts and to change their lives into better ones and get them closer to God’s love and mercy, then why not?”
To see a group of religious servants singing rock’n’roll already conveys growth and a shifting of values. However, it’s not only important that Siervas are rocking out for the word of God, but also it’s a huge advancement for Christianity to see a large group of women taking the spotlight.
In the church it’s traditionally males who serve in senior leadership positions such as pope, patriarch, and bishop, and women may only serve as abbesses. To see Siervas perform as strong women on stage, traditionally dressed in the habit, is quite a unique sight to behold in religion.
“Their uniform is part of their identity, that is who they are,” Espaliat explains. “For me it would be a bad sign if they got rid of their habits just to perform—good for them that they don’t try to be someone else on stage to sing and praise the Lord!”
One of the Sisters told BBC that many people forget nuns were just like everyone else before they took their vows—which means many of them grew up listening to the radio and becoming fans of rock’n’roll. In fact, many learned how to play their musical instruments at a young age, and now they are able to use the music to support their collective faith. “We’ll go wherever God shows the way,” she concludes.
They’ve worked with big time/Grammy-winning producers like Francisco Murias and Joe Marlet, who are best known for working with bands like Nirvana and The Foo Fighters. You can find their whole discography on iTunes and Spotify, and you can also find them on Facebook.
Siervas is not just a group of your everyday nuns, or even your run-of-the-mill Christian rock group, they’re nuns who are making history for Christianity! They’re headed to Illinois really soon, so if you want to go to a sin-free rock show, I’d suggest checking it out.