By Schuyler Kitchin

25 Songs to Help You Go Back to School

Hello there!

My name is Schuyler Kitchin, and I’m an InterVarsity minister at Berklee College of Music/Boston Conservatory. I’ve been in that role for two years and it's been such a joy. Sharing music is one of my favorite things to do. Music is a gift that helps us unlock, wrestle with, acknowledge, and feel our feelings, whether angst, joy, awe, sadness, or whatever. I have the honor of composing a playlist for you, college student, as you embark on this school year! I’ve selected 25 songs and included explanations of why I find each song worth listening to as you begin your year. God be with you!                   

- Schuyler, the Curator


1. "All Shall Be Well" by John Van Deusen – What an important reminder to start out on! This comes from medieval visionary Julian of Norwich. I’ve found the simplicity of this song and the beauty of the lyrics so comforting, a great reminder of God’s sovereignty and goodness. “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”

2. "Morning Song (Give Me Jesus)" by Antoine Bradford – A modern, somewhat jazzy take on the classic spiritual. During the Urbana Missions Conference this past December, I was in so much of a rush each day that I barely had any time to sit with Jesus, so I would try to listen to this song each morning as a moment of quiet and connection with God.

Sitting with God Amidst Anxieties & Uncertainties

3. "Wherever’s Next" by Mikaela Gatto – This is by an IV Berklee student leader, Mikki Gatto! She took a voice memo of our large group, which you can hear in the background at the beginning and during the choruses. A bop of a song about trusting God amidst uncertainties ahead.

4. "Time of Unknowns" by Zach Winters – Zach wrote this during the pandemic, hoping to write a song that would bring people comfort in a chaotic time, but he ended up writing words that he himself needed to hear: comfort from God spoken over fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. We know this for certain: God is good and cares for us deeply, even when things are unraveling.

5. "Light the Way" by Phil Thompson – Another song that I’ve found extremely encouraging when facing uncertainty. A song like this can easily get stuck in your head, constantly reminding us of God’s presence and help in time of need.

6. "Be Still My Soul" by Page CXVI – I’m a sucker for hymns. I know they can be wordy and feel inaccessible, but when they hit, they HIT. This song has been so calming in times of stress and anxiety.

God's Loving Presence Brings Rest

7. "Nothing Else" by Gatton & sxxnt – Lo-fi for your studying needs. A great song bringing confession, adoration, and peacefulness together before the Lord.

8. "Friend" by Jonathan Ogden – College can be lonely. Maybe you’re surrounded by friends but don’t feel known; maybe you’re isolated. In either case, we have a friend closer than a brother in Jesus.

9. "On and On" by Housefires – This song is based on Psalm 139 and is such a powerful reminder of God’s immense, pursuing love for us!

10. "God of Rest (Dios Del Descanso)" by Vineyard Worship with Tina Colón Williams – Knowing God’s loving-kindness towards us enables us to rest in God. There are so many other things that call on our attention: classes, grades, projects, performances, social pressures, family, etc., which are important, no doubt! But it’s easy to become like machines, at the mercy of our schools and schedules. God calls us to work, yes, but also invites us into Sabbath rest, because we are finite, not machines. What would it look like for you to take the risk of rest this semester?

11. "Caribbean Joy Medley" by Urbana Worship – There is joy in the Lord!! Rest isn’t just sleep, it’s fun, it’s family & friends, it’s dancing like a fool! This song goes so hard, enjoy the talents of the Urbana Worship team!

God's Intimate Presence Amidst Suffering

12. "Everlasting God" by William Murphy with Bishop James Morton – This song comes from one of my favorite passages, Psalm 27. It is such a deeply encouraging poem of reassurance in the face of painful circumstances–you will not be abandoned by God.

13. "God Who Sees Us" by Gloria Fanchiang – Praying out of the grievous experiences of violence towards Asian Americans, Gloria Fanchiang verbalizes her cries and the cries of many for justice from God in the face of abuse and racism. Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, entered into human suffering and oppression, showing us the heart of God, the God who saw Hagar in her distress and still sees and is present to the oppressed.

14. "Son of Suffering" by Maverick City Music with Chandler Moore & Jekalyn Carr – Based on Isaiah 53, Maverick City delivers a song that wonders at the immense love of the Suffering Servant, Jesus, who bled, carried our griefs and sins, and died to reconcile creation to God. “Blood and tears, how can it be? There’s a God who weeps, there’s a God who bleeds.” Thanks be to God.

​​15. "꽃들도 Hanamo" by 달빛마을 Moonlight Village – This is a Korean version of a Japanese worship song, a beautiful reflection on the hope we have in Jesus. Here’s a translation I found of the verse & chorus: “Here’s a stream that cleanses all our griefs / Even all our tears will pass away / And when His grace brings us to fruitfulness / Songs of joy will fill our every day // Let the flowers and the clouds / Let the winds and the deepest seas / Sing praise to the Lord / Praise to the Lord / Praise the Lord!”

16. "thou art with me" by Schuyler Kitchin – I wrote this song to communicate the tension I’ve often felt in my experience of Jesus. Jesus has been both surgeon and shepherd to me, and I find these not too dissimilar because in both experiences, I am in good, loving hands. May this song be an encouraging reminder that regardless of circumstances, God is present with you.

17. "He Reigns / Awesome God" by Kirk Franklin – So much of our faith is about memory, of being reminded of who God is and what God has done. God is sovereign, even when we feel utterly helpless. Why not be reminded of this in boisterous confidence with a classic gospel banger from Kirk Franklin!?

Sent with the Spirit

18. "Rest on Us" by Maverick City Music & UPPERROOM with Brandon Lake & Eniola Abioye – This is such an important prayer as we enter our campuses. The Spirit has been at work long before we got there, and the Spirit will be at work long after we leave–we are graciously invited into this work with the Spirit, so we entreat God to enliven us in the Spirit as we enter our campuses again or for the first time–may we bring the good news of Jesus to every corner of campus through the power of the Holy Spirit!

19. "Crimson Cord" by Propaganda – We’ve all got our stories and scars that we bring with us to campus, and we have a God who is brokenhearted with us AND who is powerful enough to redeem our pain and help us to empathize with and honor those we meet who also have wounds. Our stories are our common bond and can be vital to our witness of God’s presence and power.

20. "Kingdom of God" by Jon Guerra – I remember in my first year at Berklee I would listen to this song while sitting on Boylston Street as tons of students and others walked by. Jesus knows every story, fear, doubt, hope, pain, longing of every person who walked by, and there is good news for each one in Jesus. Imagine if Jesus walked on your campus–whom would he seek out? Where would he go? The cool thing is that with the Spirit’s presence within us, THAT’S US! We get to bring that good news to our campuses, just as Jesus brought the news of the kingdom to the people of Israel. Our communities are the broken, blessed pictures of the kingdom, inviting others to experience the love of our God who makes all things new.

21. "Instrument of Peace" by The Porter’s Gate – This song comes from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi–I encourage you to look it up! It’s a beautiful unpacking of what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we are, through the Spirit’s power within us.

22. "Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful" by Good Shepherd Collective with Matthew Wright – This song stands out to me because it carries worship and witness together. There is awe at the Lord’s goodness coupled with the desire to share that with others. Worship leads to witness, leads to worship, and so on.

23. "May You Be Glorified!" by John Van Deusen – I love this song as an anthemic reminder of our goal in all of what we do, as students, as chapters, as human beings. Living into our giftings, be they in evangelism, engineering, photography, poem-writing, Bible study leading, biochemistry, or whatever, we can glorify God! God can be glorified in our work and in our rest, our doing and our being, our receiving and our being sent. It ought not feel like a fearful, pressurized thing–St. Irenaeus said “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” To live in dependence on God, seeking to follow Jesus through the power of the Spirit, growing in love for God, others, and self, is glorifying to our gracious God, so let this be our earnest prayer: “May you be glorified in all of me, my King!”


24. "Psalm 23" by Zach Winters – Let this song of peace wash over you.

25. "Fear Thou Not" by Josh Garrels – A final word of encouragement over you as you begin your school year. God invites us into his love, which drives out fear. Amen!

Find the full InterVarsity Back to School Playlist here

Listen to the Playlist

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Schuyler Kitchin is a campus minister at Berklee College of Music & Boston Conservatory. He loves listening to and playing music, rock climbing, walking around aimlessly in the woods, playing ping pong and soccer, reading novels, and getting to know Jesus alongside students and friends!