Belting out his gospel-tinged lyrics in front of a cross lit in blue, Bieber took viewers to church, often closing his eyes and beating his chest. At the end of the performance, Bieber appeared to be overcome with emotion as he remained hunched over with his hands on his knees.
For his second song of the night, Bieber sang his latest single “Lonely,” walking through the halls of SNL's studio before walking on the stage where collaborator Benny Blanco was playing the piano.
NBC Justin Bieber and Chance the rapper
Earlier this week, Bieber dropped the music video for “Lonely,” which is about his early rise to fame as a teenager. The video stars 14-year-old actor Jacob Tremblay as a young Bieber struggling with the pressures of fame.
The two-and-a-half-minute clip follows Tremblay as Bieber in his My World-era, nailing the singer's past look with his signature purple hoodie, white jacket and pants ensemble, and of course his iconic side-swept hair.
In revealing the video for "Lonely" earlier Friday morning, Bieber posted a candid caption on Instagram about what it was like to write the moving track.
"Lonely is out now with @itsbennyblanco. When he and @finneas showed me this song to be honest it was hard to listen to considering how tough it was to get through some of these chapters," he admitted. "I went into the studio and sang through it which wasn’t easy but started to really see the importance of telling this story!"
Beiber released “Holy” with Chance the Rapper on Sept. 18. Though he has yet to confirm the release of a new album, he teased the release of "Holy" as the start of a "new era" following the success of his last studio album, Changes, which soared to No. 1 on the U.S. charts in February.