Although Britain was once a primarily Christian country, the role of religion has declined over the past couple of decades as more people have embraced secularity. Thinking Out Loudhitmaker Ed Sheeran has been pretty open about his Catholic Irish roots in the past, but does he practice Christianity in his day-to-day life?
Ed Sheeran is thought to be Christian, though he has never explicitly confirmed this. Sheeran grew up in a Catholic household and nowadays often depicts religious imagery with his music. In 2017 Ed also sought planning permission to build a chapel on his East Anglia estate.
Despite advocating for sex worker’s rights and pro-choice legislation, when it comes to his religious beliefs Ed Sheeran prefers to keep his lips sealed. Is this a marketing ploy to help him appeal to a wider audience? Or is Sheeran scared of upsetting his conservative family? Keep reading to find out what we think
Ed was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1991 to John and Imogen Sheeran. His father, John, is of Irish heritage and grew up in a large Catholic family in Wexford. Ed references his paternal grandparent’s love story in the song ‘Nancy Mulligan’ from his third studio album ÷.
“It’s about my grandma and grandfather actually. One was Protestant and from Belfast and one was Catholic and from Southern Ireland. They got engaged and no one turned up to the wedding”, he told Zane Lowe.
So it’s no surprise that John grew up with strong religious beliefs that he tried to pass on to his own children, Ed and Matthew. As a young child, Ed regularly attended his local church and by the age of four, he was singing in the church choir. He references this in the song ‘Eraser’ in which he sings:
“Learned to sing inside the Lord’s house but stopped at the age of nine”.
‘Eraser’ isn’t the only time that Ed uses religious symbolism in his music. In the song ‘Afrie Love’ Ed refers to his late grandfather’s death in 2013. William Sheeran was a Protestant from Belfast, Northern Ireland who unfortunately suffered from Alzheimer’s for 20 years before passing away.
The song features the lyrics “then the devil took your breath away” and “I hope that heaven is your resting place” which seems to allude to Ed’s opinions on what happens when you die. Ed is hoping that his grandfather is happy and comfortable in his afterlife.
At the end of the song, Ed also sings “my father and all of my family rise from their seats to sing hallelujah”, which is a reference to the popular Christian hymn. In a conversation with Music-News in 2014, Ed said:
“That was a weird song, because I actually started writing it about two weeks before he passed away – thinking “what if?” – and then he did. So it was odd how it came about.”
Some other notable Christian references in Ed’s music are
- The A-Team – “For angels to fly, an angel will die”
- U.N.I – “But I know God made another one of me to love you better than I ever will”
- Put It All On Me – “I try to be strong, well, I got my demons”
- Eraser – “Blessed me with the life” and “And every day that Satan tempts me I try to take it in my stride”
- Barcelona – “You’re like something that God has sent me”
- Make It Rain – “When the sins of my father weigh down in my soul” and “Make it rain down, Lord”
The Chapel of Sheeran
Now that Ed is set to become a father in his own right, he has made plans to follow in his father’s footsteps by raising his children Christian. Back in 2014 Ed submitted a planning application to build his own Chapel on his estate in East Anglia.
The application states that the church will be a private sanctuary for retreat, contemplation and prayer. If granted, the Chapel will have pew space for 24 people, a stained glass window and a 48-foot tower.