28 Of The Best Songs About Forgiveness

Written by Dan Farrant

Forgiveness is a universal theme that many can relate to, and that has made its way into the fabric of music. Artists have penned songs as a way to explore personal experiences and emotions surrounding this complex concept.

While forgiveness is not always easy to do, listening to songs about this subject can be a start. We believe that they have the power to initiate healing and even inspire acts of forgiveness.

Today, we have compiled 28 of the best songs about forgiveness to help you along the journey. So read on and let these songs touch your heart.

1. “Forgiveness” By Matthew West

Just like Matthew West sings in “Forgiveness,” pardoning someone’s mistakes is one of the hardest things to do. This song, released in 2012, is from his album Into the Light.

The song was inspired by the true story of Renee Napier, a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver. Despite the immeasurable pain and loss, she chose the path of forgiveness.

The song highlights the power of forgiveness even in the most tragic circumstances. It emphasizes that forgiving can heal deep-seated emotional wounds, offering a path toward healing and peace.

2. “I Forgive You” By Kelly Clarkson

The deeply emotional song “I Forgive You” by Kelly Clarkson is up next. This 2011 track is about moving on from past hurts and finding the courage to forgive others and oneself.

The lyrics find the narrator struggling to let go of pain and resentment. However, she acknowledges that the other person is not the only person to be blamed. She sees herself accountable for the things that took place.

By forgiving the other person and herself, it paves the way for healing and emotional recovery. Despite what she has gone through, she is determined to change, to look at things “with a brand new attitude.” All this is because she has learned to forgive.

3. “Please Forgive Me” By Bryan Adams

When we talk about songs with “forgiveness” in the title, let us not forget Bryan Adams‘ “Please Forgive Me.” When it was released in 1993, it was a global radio hit. This passionate love song explores the theme of forgiveness within the context of a romantic relationship.

The lyrics express the narrator’s deep, unending love for his partner. The plea for forgiveness is not prompted by a mistake. Rather, he is asking forgiveness because he can’t help loving her intensely, even if it might be overwhelming.

The narrator further conveys his feelings to her, emphasizing that he is his priority. He wants her to understand the depth of his feelings and how much she means to him.

4. “Wings Of Forgiveness” By India.Arie Simpson

In “Wings of Forgiveness,” India.Arie Simpson forgives from a place of love and understanding. It’s about finding the strength to forgive someone who hurt you.

The lyrics show the narrator’s personal journey toward forgiveness. She expresses her longing for peace and the ability to accept things she cannot change.

In addition, the song references certain personalities, such as Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Jesus. All of them are known for their immense capacity to forgive, even in the face of adversity. Their examples are reminders of healing and the power of forgiveness.

5. “Apology Song” By The Decemberists

Trust The Decemberists to come up with a song about apologizing for losing your friend’s bike. We’re talking about “Apology Song,” which was released in 2004.

The song is a unique take on the theme of forgiveness, as the narrator gets Madeline stolen while being under his care. Madeline is, as you might have guessed, the name of his friend Steven’s bike.

The narrator is deeply regretful of what happened and promptly asks Steven’s forgiveness. The only consolation he can give is assuring his friend that he has taken good care of Madeline while Steven is away.

6. “Pray For Forgiveness” By Alicia Keys

Aside from forgiveness, Alicia Keys‘ “Pray for Forgiveness” explores themes of self-reflection and personal growth. It centers on her journey of seeking forgiveness from herself and from a higher power.

The song begins with the metaphor of a beautiful garden. It represents a state of peace that has been lost due to self-delusion. These delusions leave in a metaphorical storm, which suggests turmoil and regret.

The narrator acknowledges her errors, including taking her life for granted, and this prompts her to seek forgiveness. She yearns to make amends and redeem herself.

7. “Sorry” By Justin Bieber

In Justin Bieber‘s “Sorry,” the narrator is asking forgiveness in the aftermath of mistakes in a relationship. He expresses a heartfelt plea for another chance to make things right.

In the lyrics, the narrator is remorseful for his past actions and seeks a chance to apologize. The song encapsulates the emotions that arise when one acknowledges his mistakes and seeks to redeem himself.

In relation to forgiveness, “Sorry” emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions, expressing regret, and making amends. It reminds us that apologizing is a step toward healing.

8. “Ms. Jackson” By OutKast

Andre 3000, one-half of OutKast, was right when he said that music gives you a chance to say anything. And so, through this medium, he co-wrote “Ms. Jackson” to convey his remorse and ask forgiveness at the same time.

Though “Ms. Jackson” is a fictional name, she is based on the mother of singer Erykah Badu, with whom Andre had a child. Through this song, he wanted Badu’s mother to hear his side of the story.

The song centers on the intricate emotions involved when a relationship ends. It does not only affect the couple but their families as well. The lyrics “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson (oh), I am for real / Never meant to make your daughter cry / I apologize a trillion times” signify his sincere regret over causing pain to both Badu and her mother.

9. “Back To December” By Taylor Swift

One of Taylor Swift‘s most recognizable songs and one that deserves a spot on this list is “Back to December.” This heartfelt song explores themes of regret, apology, and forgiveness.

“Back to December” finds the narrator expressing her remorse for her role in a relationship’s end. She acknowledges the pain she caused him and directly asks for his forgiveness. The lyric “And I go back to December all the time” expresses her desire to turn back time to amend the mistakes she made.

The song reminds us of the consequences of our actions and the importance of expressing sincere regret and seeking forgiveness. Doing so requires humility and the willingness to admit mistakes.

10. “Sorry” By Ciara

The emotional song “Sorry” by Ciara explores themes of remorse, reconciliation, and forgiveness. The track was released in 2012 from her album of the same name.

The song follows the narrative of a woman who misses and still loves her ex despite the strained relationship they had. She expresses regret for what she said and did, hoping to make amends. This suggests her understanding of her mistakes and a desire to be forgiven.

In essence, “Sorry” is about taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging the pain you caused. And lastly, it’s about asking forgiveness even when words are difficult to say.

11. “Hello” By Adele

One of the most successful songs from Adele’s 25th album is “Hello.” It’s a tale of regret, reconciliation, and seeking forgiveness. Here, the narrator reflects on a past relationship and the lingering feelings of remorse.

In the lyrics, she expresses her desire to reconnect with her old lover and address some unresolved issues. This suggests her acknowledgment of her mistakes and a yearning to be forgiven.

At its core, “Hello” is about the longing to make amends and seek reconciliation. It emphasizes the importance of reaching out and asking for forgiveness even if time has passed.

12. “Forgive” By Rebecca Lynn Howard

Up next is “Forgive” by Rebecca Lynn Howard, a song that explores the complexities of forgiveness in the context of a failed relationship. It follows the story of a woman who has been hurt and betrayed and is grappling with the idea of forgiveness.

The song tells us that forgiving is not an easy task. As Howard sings, forgiveness is “a mighty big word.” To make things difficult, he has betrayed her trust and is now expecting her to just forgive.

The lyrics show her hurt and confusion as now the pain leaves her at a point when she doesn’t know herself anymore. But what she’s sure of is that “it’s too soon for [her] to say forgive.”

13. “Forgiveness” By TobyMac Ft. Lecrae

And now we go to a song with “forgiveness” in the lyrics. TobyMac collaborated with Lecrae in “Forgiveness,” released in 2012 from Eye on It.

The track explores the multi-faceted nature of forgiveness. It underscores the dual aspects of forgiveness — both asking for it and offering it. The lyrics highlight human error, acknowledging that “we all make mistakes sometimes.” But with forgiveness, we can all experience personal growth and emotional freedom.

The song is a gentle reminder of our imperfections and the need for compassion and understanding. And as TobyMac and Lecrae tell us, “We all need forgiveness.”

14. “I Forgive You” By Kellie Pickler

The deeply emotional “I Forgive You” by Kellie Pickler explores forgiveness from a personal perspective. The song is about the pain involved in carrying past hurts and the freedom that forgiveness brings.

In the lyrics, the narrator is suffocated with “carrying around this pain” and “dragging it like a chain.” The vivid imagery expresses the emotional toll that holding onto resentment can bring to a person.

However, as the song shows, forgiveness might be the key to letting go of the burden the narrator feels. She recognizes that it’s the one thing left to do so she can let go of the pain and be free.

15. “Forgiven Me” Mary Mary

While forgiving others can be liberating, forgiving oneself is equally important. Mary Mary‘s “Forgiven Me” is about acknowledging one’s mistakes, accepting them, and forgiving oneself.

The song reflects on the difficulty of forgiving oneself, which is typically harder on oneself than on others. This is what we mean when we say that the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Sometimes, guilt and regret add to the difficulty.

However, “Forgiven Me” reminds us of the necessity and power of self-forgiveness. This is a vital step toward healing and moving forward.

16. “Forgive And Forget” By You Me At Six

In “Forgive and Forget” by You Me at Six, the narrator struggles with forgiveness in the context of personal relationships. He is burdened by past mistakes and regrets.

Thus, he expresses his desire to move past old hurts. In other words, to “forget what was said and give pain a rain check.” This suggests he understands the need to forgive so he can let go of past mistakes and make room for healing.

In addition, the song explores the shared nature of pain in relationships. This is addressed in the line “…all of your demons became my demons.” It means that forgiveness is not just pardoning others of their wrongdoings. It’s also about freeing yourself from the shared pain.

17. “Sweet Forgiveness” By Bonnie Raitt

Up next is a Bonnie Raitt song that mentions “forgiveness” in an intimate context. “Sweet Forgiveness” was featured in her sixth album, released in 1977.

The title itself is the song’s central motif, representing forgiving someone and being forgiven in return. However, forgiving is not easy as it involves some struggle in the process. This points to the thin line between vulnerability and strength that is necessary when a person decides to forgive.

The song also implies a longing for connection and reconciliation. With this, “Sweet Forgiveness” underscores the healing power of forgiving. By deciding to forgive, a person can mend broken relationships.

18. “Forgiven” By Alanis Morissette

The Jagged Little Pill album by Alanis Morissette contains the track “Forgiven.” It explores the theme of forgiveness through the lens of religious teachings and personal experiences.

Many critics speculate that the song is about sexuality. It tells the story of a Catholic girl grappling with her faith and the burden of sin as taught in her religion.

This is directly addressed in the opening lyrics: “You know how us Catholic girls can be / We make up for so much time a little too late.” This points to the stereotype that Catholic school girls are sexually innocent.

The lines “My brothers they never went blind for what they did / But I may as well have” point to a double standard that men get lucky, but girls are supposed to resist temptation.

In relation to forgiveness, “Forgiven” represents the narrator’s struggle to reconcile her actions with her spiritual beliefs.

19. “Posthumous Forgiveness” By Tame Impala

Released in 2020, Tame Impala delves into forgiveness after the death of his father in “Posthumous Forgiveness.” The song captures his emotional journey as he comes to terms with past hurts and finds a way to forgive.

In the first part of the song, he sounds angry, with the line “But now I know you only saved yourself,” reflecting his resentment. But in the latter part, he seems to assume a change in heart. He wished his father was still alive so he could talk to him and play his songs for him.

The title encapsulates the central theme of the song. It represents the act of forgiving someone even after their death. The narrator sees this as a way to find closure and heal.

20. “I Have Forgiven Jesus” By Morrissey

The alternative rock song “I Have Forgiven Jesus” takes on forgiveness from a unique perspective. This song was released in 2004 from Morrissey‘s You Are the Quarry album.

In the lyrics, the narrator feels that Jesus has deserted him due to his struggles with finding love. He is disillusioned because he is unable to deal with his own desires.

The title represents a paradoxical act of forgiving a divine figure considered an unending source of forgiveness. For the narrator, Jesus created him with so much desire but “there’s nothing [he] can do with this desire.”

21. “Forgive Myself” By Sam Smith

Before we can love others, we must love ourselves first. That’s what Sam Smith is talking about in “Forgive Myself,” a track from his Love Goes album.

In the lyrics, the narrator reflects on his past relationship, acknowledging that he has hurt himself more than necessary. He is unable to move on because he still thinks about his ex and their memories. He wishes he could have done more for his partner.

The narrator feels heartbroken, wishing that his ex would come back. However, he also realizes that his ex is gone, and he needs to move on. He must forgive himself first before he can heal.

22. “Time Is A Healer” By Eva Cassidy

A song that explores the concept of forgiveness, healing, and love is Eva Cassidy‘s “Time Is a Healer.” This track belongs to her 1997 album Eva by Heart.

The central idea behind the song is that time is a vital element in healing emotional wounds. The song suggests that even when hearts break, they can be “put back together again” over time. This can be interpreted as forgiveness, either of oneself or others.

Aside from time, the song underscores the power of love to heal. That despite causing wounds, it can also heal them. This points to the duality of love and forgiveness: they can both hurt and heal.

23. “Hurt” By Christina Aguilera

Our next song, Christina Aguilera‘s “Hurt,” delves into themes of regret, forgiveness, and missed opportunities. She co-wrote this track with Mark Ronson and Linda Perry. The latter was inspired to write about the death of her father.

The lyrics follow a woman who is grieving the loss of her dad. She expresses remorse for blaming him for the troubles in her life. But what hurts the most is not having the chance to

ask forgiveness before his death. The lyrics “Forgive all your mistakes / There’s nothing I wouldn’t do / To hear your voice again” reflect her regret and longing for reconciliation.

“Hurt” also explores the idea of self-forgiveness. The narrator blames herself for not appreciating her father when he was still alive. She acknowledges her own shortcomings and embarks on a journey to forgive herself.

24. “Forgiven” By Sanctus Real

Christian rock band Sanctus Real released “Forgiven” in 2010. It centers on divine forgiveness and its transformative power.

In humility, the narrator talks about the liberating feelings of being forgiven by God. The song shows that forgiveness is not just an act. It is a journey toward personal growth and spiritual maturity.

The lyrics further suggest that when we are weakened by our sinful pasts, we must find comfort in the fact that Jesus Christ has forgiven us. This is a reminder of God’s unconditional love and mercy, reinforcing the belief that no mistake is too great to be forgiven.

25. “Sorry, Blame It On Me” By Akon

There’s a lot that Akon is asking forgiveness for in “Sorry, Blame It On Me.” This deeply emotional song is about accountability, remorse, and forgiveness.

Notably, Akon wrote the song after he faced backlash when he danced suggestively with an underage girl. Needless to say, he was criticized harshly for his behavior.

At its core, “Sorry, Blame It on Me” is Akon’s apology to people whom he may have hurt through his actions. He takes full responsibility and is not afraid to admit he is wrong, showcasing a high level of self-awareness and maturity. Through this song, he conveys his heartfelt apology to his fans, his family, and everyone affected.

26. “Angry Anymore” By Ani DiFranco

When our heart is full of anger, it can be difficult to forgive. But Ani DiFranco is singing from a place of compassion and maturity in “Angry Anymore.”

The lyrics narrate the story of someone’s journey from anger and resentment to forgiveness and peace. The opening lines, “Growing up it was just me and my mom / Against the world,” suggest that the anger comes from past experiences.

As the song progresses, she realizes that holding onto anger is not beneficial. This realization leads her to let go of her anger and choose forgiveness.

27. “Last Time I Say Sorry” By John Legend And Kane Brown

Another collaboration on our list is “Last Time I Say Sorry” by John Legend and Kane Brown. They were inspired to pen the song by their resolve to be better husbands to their wives.

The narrative resolves around the narrators who express regret for their past actions. They promise to change for the better and commit to making amends.

In the context of forgiveness, the song underscores the fact that forgiveness is not easy. It requires one to accept his faults and a genuine commitment to change. The narrators are ready and willing to do anything to earn the forgiveness of their loved ones.

28. “In Between” By Linkin Park

Last but not least is Linkin Park‘s “In Between.” Released in 2007, this introspective song delves around regret, apology, and forgiveness.

The song opens with an apology, showing the narrator’s remorse for past actions and behavior. It suggests that he yearns to mend a strained relationship as he regrets that things have ended the way they have.

In relation to forgiveness, the song expresses the difficulty of seeking forgiveness when the damage is done. The narrator is also struggling with internal conflict and personal guilt. Asking for forgiveness from the other person and from himself appears to be a significant part of his journey to healing.

Summing Up Our List Of Forgiveness Songs

Between Matthew West’s “Forgiveness” and Linkin Park’s “In Between,” we’ve seen how forgiveness is interpreted in unique and profound ways. These songs highlight the need to forgive others and yourself and to ask forgiveness as well.

We hope that the songs above remind you that forgiveness is a powerful and healing experience. So forgive more, and do not be afraid to accept your own faults when it’s you who need to be forgiven.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.