Big-voiced Irish solo artist Andrew Hozier Byrne, better known as Hozier, first created a stir when he posted this track in September 2013. The song reached #1 on the Irish iTunes singles chart and #2 in the official Irish singles chart.
Lyrically the song is one large metaphor comparing a lover to religion.
"Take me to church I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife Offer me that deathless death Good God, let me give you my life."
Speaking with The Irish Times, Hozier said about matters of the heart: "I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment – if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes – everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense."
Hozier attracted further attention with the release of the song's Brendan Canty directed music video, which criticizes the repression of gay people in Russia. "Growing up in Ireland, the church is always there – the hypocrisy, the political cowardice," Hozier told Billboard magazine. "The video has the same theme – an organization that undermines humanity."
Written in the wake of a breakup with his first girlfriend, this is both a love song and a contemplation of sin, drawing influence from the late atheist writer Christopher Hitchens. Hozier described it to The Guardian as, "a bit of a losing your religion song."
The line "I was born sick, but I love it. Command me to be well" was inspired by Elizabethan dramatist Fulke Greville's 1554 poem Chorus Sacerdotum, that speaks of mankind being "created sick, commanded to be sound."
Hozier explained the song's meaning to The Cut: "Sexuality, and sexual orientation - regardless of orientation - is just natural," he said. "An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation - that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love."
Hozier added that the song is not an attack on faith. "Coming from Ireland, obviously, there's a bit of a cultural hangover from the influence of the church. You've got a lot of people walking around with a heavy weight in their hearts and a disappointment, and that s--t carries from generation to generation," he explained. "So the song is just about that - it's an assertion of self, reclaiming humanity back for something that is the most natural and worthwhile. Electing, in this case a female, to choose a love who is worth loving."
Hozier generated some heat stateside after performing the song on Saturday Night Live. Though the singer grew up in Ireland, he told Grantland that playing the American television show was "a massive, massive deal" for him. He explained: "My father introduced me to The Blues Brothers when I was very, very young. And Saturday Night Live - that’s where they started. I’m very, very aware of that."
This song was featured in a popular 2014 commercial for Beats wireless headphones. The spot shows NBA superstar LeBron James returning to his hometown of Akron, Ohio and remembering his childhood years. James had recently returned to the local NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he started his pro career. A voiceover says, "don't ever forget where you came from" while this song plays in the background, emphasizing the intractable bond between James and the city.
Ring those bells: This song is the highest-charting tune in the Hot 100's history with the word 'church' in its title. Culture Club's "Church of the Poison Mind," which peaked at #10 in 1983, was the previous best.
This was 2014's most-streamed track globally on Spotify. The song was streamed over 87 million times during the year on the service.
Hozier performed this at the Grammy Awards in 2015, where it was nominated for Song of the Year (Sam Smith won for "Stay With Me"). Toward the end of the song, he was joined by Annie Lennox, who sang with him before going into a rousing rendition of "I Put A Spell On You."
Hozier recorded his vocals in his attic at 3 a.m. one January morning in 2013. "We re-recorded bits around it, " he said, "but I boshed the vocals in for my laptop."
Hozier told the story of the song to Q magazine: "I'd been working on the lyrics for a long time," he said. "I always have ideas for songs for ages. So I sat down at the piano and hammered out something and then found a chorus and those lyrics just fell into place."
The song topped the charts in several countries, including Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. However it fell just short on many tallies, peaking at #2 in Hozier's home country of Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, UK and US.
Hozier sings at the start of the song:
My lover's got humour She's the giggle at a funeral Knows everybody's disapproval I should've worshipped her sooner
Asked during a Reddit AMA what it means to be the giggle at a funeral, Hozier replied: "Have you ever burst your s--t laughing at Church? I think it's something that all Irish people have experienced at some point. There's a unique, wonderful aspect to an expression of irreverence in the face of what should be reverential."
Talitha from Harrisburg, PaIf you think this is insane, or to far fetched. You're dead wrong, but I won't burst your bubble. Cannibalism is what lies at heart of our world. And maybe this guy has some insight into sex. I have no idea, because I won't allow myself to think about it. It's at the core. It's the reason. Cannibalism. It's the guilty hallucination we place between us and the guilt we feel because we think we killed and ate God. Completely insane, but nontheless the foundation of the planet earth. (In reality this has not happened, because it is impossible, and only seems to take place in our minds, which are convincing, because they're God's minds, see? You're God's and you're part of God's mind, therefore the earth and the cannibalistic bulls--t has never and could never take place, it isn't true because it wasn't made by God. See? So the Sacrifice, the horrible imagery, the rituals, none are "real". They seem "real" to you because your mind believes in them. Once you stop believing, they cease existing. Peace is the state we truly exist in, this is a nightmare. All the world, the continents, the screens and their contents - all a - nightmare - that doesn't exist! It doesn't exist! Wake from the nightmare! Peace be unto you my perfect self. Hahah and Joy. http://stobblehouse.com/text/ACIM.pdf
Talitha from Harrisburg, PaThis song I believe is from an almost complete spiritual confusion bordering on the profound. When he speaks about sex, he's talking about a ritualistic sacrifice, commenting on traditional religion as it actually is, a guilt ridden sinner condemning false righteousness. He comments on the orgasm as "that deathless death" , which is correct. He mixes religious imagery with the imagery of ritual sacrifice.
My lover's got humour She's the giggle at a funeral Knows everybody's disapproval I should've worshipped her sooner If the heavens ever did speak She's the last true mouthpiece
This refers to a Rasputin like indulgence, mixed with an innocent proclamation of purity. This is the path to enlightenment, he's right. It's a dismissal of the guilt induced by the world and religion. And he's right, he's on the right track. Maintaining a sense of humor in this world is a privilege of the elite, the enlightened, who understand it's not real. No one else can maintain humor at a funeral, surrounded by disapproval, only those who don't believe in it.
Every Sunday's getting more bleak A fresh poison each week "We were born sick" You heard them say it My church offers no absolutes She tells me "worship in the bedroom" The only heaven I'll be sent to Is when I'm alone with you I was born sick, but I love it Command me to be well
This is the commentary on religion. Sin, "you're born a sinner" and " you deserve it, and will burn in hell"
Great, this commentary, is revolutionary because it exposes that, in order to continue life, we must have sex and yet we are sinners to maintain our species. "Command me to be well" I find the most potent and insightful line in the whole song, and the only line I would believe myself. Command me to be well, is the only line I find true.
"My church offers no absolutes. She tells me worship in the bedroom. The only heaven I'll be sent to. Is when I'm alone with you.
Here he gives up on religion. He chooses, a person, or thing that is more "natural" to him. Which is a semi-logical choice. This has nothing to do with gayness, and the video was just a political choice at that time. This song, is about sex as an alternative to religion in some way, but here it goes, and it is false.
Take me to church I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of delights I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife Offer me that deathless death Good God, let me give you my life
Here he likens sex to Church, and submits, using the imagery of a dog. "I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife" indicates that he is the sacrifice. Offer me that deathless death (orgasm) Good God, let me give you my life (devotion to master for orgasm) Strong Sado-masochistic overtones, which play in quite perfectly.
If I'm a pagan of the good times My lover's the sunlight To keep the goddess on my side She demands a sacrifice Drain the whole sea Get something shiny Something meaty for the main course That's a fine looking high horse What you got in the stable? We've a lot of starving faithful That looks tasty That looks plenty This is hungry work
He thinks he is indulging in the "good times" and that his lover is the "sunlight", but he knows that in order to appease the "goddess" she demands a sacrifice. This is where the cannibalism theme really comes into play. We can see from our world that this is an insightful piece of information. We must kill and eat life forms in order to live, the goddess of this song is not different, and so, why should sex be different. Sex itself potentially being a "theatre" of sorts, a place where life and death play out their roles. I don't actually know because I won't allow myself to think about it. Anyways, we can at least be sure, cannibalism plays out in life, and in this song cannibalism has played some role. He mixes sexual innuendos with this so it can be hard to interpret.
No masters or kings when the ritual begins There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene Only then I am human Only then I am clean
I think here is the profound confusion. He's demonstrating the equality in the act of sex, by saying there is no superiority, but also highlighting the ritual aspect of the act. From here I believe he is delusional, mixing metaphors to the point of non-comprehension. That's what a "good songwriter" does to a large extent, in my "humble" opinion. Mixture to oblivion. Because a songwriter can't really do anything but comment. So maybe it's society that has mixed the metaphor, I don't know.
The comment in the song "Command me to be well" is the most insightful for me. Because it illumitates human beings innate power to cure illness. Maybe you think that's a psycho thing to pull from this song but it's true you can command others to be well, and they will be. I don't believe any sacrificial elements of the song are true, in case you're searching lyrics to find truth, but I do believe searching lyrics for truth is completely valid. The trance state induced by playing music over and over during practice makes musicians particularly likely to be contacted by other people.
I will never be sure this song isn't the complete truth about something, from some view.
Hans from BuffaloI have taken a completely different meaning from this than all of you have. I dont know if i am necessarily right, but i think I can at least offer a fresh look at this.
I believe that this song has nothing to do with gay sex or the church. I think it has to do with Hoziers personal relationship with God. His lover, that he mentions is "God" or atleast the most true expression of God which is "love"which is why he refers to her as female but has a two men in the video. The angry mob that you see, that is actually everyone in the comments section of this web page. When he is referencing the deathless death he is talking about the death of ego which is experienced when you have self realization and feel the bliss of knowing true love. Not the love of a human for a human, but the love of being alive and present in the moment, where everything is sacred, because everything is a contruct of divine creation.
I think Hozier has a much older faith in that he believes in the sacred feminine and masculine. He is demonizing all faiths for taking what comes naturally to us as a species and calling it sin. When you have a personal relationship with God, you worship him/her in your own way, and rarely is that way understood by others. But if you are publicly open about it you are crucified at every opportunity.
It also has a bondage feel to it. Like he is using selfless sex (non-gratuitis sexual experiance) to show his faith and devotion. Again, when the sacred feminine or masculine is worshipped in pagan culture it is done so through sexual acts. One person, known as the alter, or the vessel is pleased sexually by one person or many, and people who are doing the pleasing dont receive sexual pleasure from it, it is a symbol of their love and devotion to God, a sacrfice.
I could go on for hours and deconstruct the lyrics to give you many examples of my take in it but that this point i am simply beating a dead horse. There are two sides to every person, there is the soul, and the ego. The egos job is to create reality so that we dont sit around all day crying on our hands and knees thanking god for giving us life. We cant be productive members of our species if we do nothing but glorify creation, which we would totally do if we humbled ourselves enough to show God the gratitude he/she deserves. The souls job is to communicate to us what we must learn in life to become more godlike, to be worthy of standing in Gods presence upon our death. The two are at constant war, and the only thing in this life that allows the two to function in tandem is selfless love. Which i believe is the meaning of this song.
Hnehimmi from MoroccoHello everybody! it's my first time here, I like so much this song; it's extraordinary and powerful in many ways... I hear it all the time and everytime some of my friends just tell me it's about gay men !!! which makes me nerves (it's like even lesting to a gay song is not normal or a bad thing or a crime ... ) So i decided to search of the meaning of the song (since english is not my first language so i don't understand the song very well ).
I think the song is not about gays and even if it's i don't care. I'm not with or against being gay ... but i think it's not normal beging. a gay couple cant's create a normal familly for the children and many other thing (it's just my personal opinion)
Finaly, I like so much your comments and the differents ways of thinkings and how you discuss the topic with respect.
Lindsey from UsaI think this is an extraordinarily powerful song in so many ways. It (as I see it) is saying that sex is natural, and it should not be seen as shamful to have sex or to express your sexuality. I think the lyrics of this song are beautifully written and I know they are about sex, but i do not think they are necessarily about gay sex. I think that Hozier may have made the video feature two gay men because he knew that would strike a lot of controversy in this day in age. He also knew that people are more accepting of homosexuality these days, and that people might understand the song a bit better if it were explained in that way. If you read the lyrics, I think it is less about gay sex and more about comparing a lover to religion, or religion and sex in general. I did quite enjoy reading all of these comments, I think some of you have some very interesting and intelligent views of homosexuality, religion, and society. My favorite comment (and the most intellectual at that) about our society was definitely from Susi. I never thought of our patriarchal society in that way, but I 100% agree.
Susi from San SebastianHozier is just so brave to publicly proclaim these truths about the Church and gay love. In fact, few people do that even nowadays. @Chris. Re: 'Also churches don't regard of female gay relationships as much, they mainly (if not only) talk about male gay relationships'. Well, I agree with you that this is all about sexism, but I think it is also connected with our patriarchal system which keeps (in the XXI century) silencing women and their needs. For one thing, the word 'gay' being used only for men is itself a sexism. Anyway, I think that tolerating gayness just as much as we tolerate heterosexuality would threaten our patriarchal system. On the one hand, men could not feel 'with more rights' than his lover because his lover would be himself a man. On the other hand, if (lesbian) women do not need men anymore, then it wouldn't make any sense for men to be central, or even important -at least not as important as our society pretend them to be. Thus, the patriarchal system we have now would collapse. Now, I wonder why there is so much fear about this, and I also wonder about the sense of those wide functional divisions male-female. WE should select the functions to perform in life rather than society doing it for us. Back to gay-not gay, instead of classifying people about their personal sexual likes or dislikes (sex and sexual tastes should be a private thing and nobody else's business as long as you respect the others) why don't we classify people as respectful - disrespectful? This is the very base to be a good person. And being a good person has nothing to do with believing in God, in Allah, or in Krishna (or being gay or heterosexual!)
Courtney from AusHELP!!! Could anyone tell me why this song is rock? Like the technicalities of it? drums i know do something but like why is this song rock
Beverley Davis from Littlemoon1I'm an old broad who loves songs about sex. When I first heard it I thought there was a little pagan element to it, but none of the pagan groups I belong to have ever mentioned it. My daughter informed me the other day it was about gay sex. I know a lot of gay men use derogatory female terms for their body parts so I thought, oh that's why it felt a little off to me. Much success to Hozier, although he doesn't need my approval.
Chris from Greece"Anywho, the video shows nothing about The Church, so it's misleading, it shows a group of homophobics who don't represent The Church at all, or they wouldn't be expressing violence." Just wow, if the rest of the comment was following up in the same logic I would consider it trolling. Violence has been expressed through churches throughout the centuries, wars have been based on them and initiated by them. And I am not talking about Faith, faith is one thing church is another. Churches, no matter the religion, as institutions are based on humans, who so far have used the faith they represent and the faithful people towards promoting their own agendas and ideas. Churches have been violent, especially the catholic one no doubt (I am a christian btw). And again just to clarify, I am not doubting or accusing the faith (it's not jesus or god's fault or whatever divine being there is) I am accusing the Church, the institution, not the belief. So....could this group of people be motivated by a church to act in a violent way? Sure they can. Especially in older years churches were like a school, whatever the priest is preaching is law, it's what people should do. When you are promoting homophobia (you don't have to say "go kill them", just say how unnatural it is, how it's the biggest sin ever, how they are not human beings etc.) you open up the ground to these groups so that they can freely move and do such things. I happen to live in a society that is still pretty homophobic btw and where our church (the christian orthodox) is as well very homophobic. Whenever I see a priest saying how gay people are sick and they should be "treated", or how wrong is what they are doing, or how they'll burn in hell no matter what if they are gay, or when they compare homosexuality to pedophilia or bestiality (not sure what the correct word is)...all these things above cultivate an environment and form a society where being gay is an ethical "crime", where you can't love someone of the same gender and be your true self, and where people treat gays as beings of lower value -> bullying, killing them etc. I am saying al these things just to support my main argument, that church is indirectly promoting these acts. They don't have to go out and shout "kill them all!!!" and you don't have to see a group with religious banners or priests with their church's clothes. So are these people in the video motivated by some religious ideas preached to them by their churches and then their families? Probably. Even if they didn't go to church themselves their parents probably did, they listened to a homophobic preaching and then told their children how being gay is wrong. And then all of a sudden these children group up against someone who is gay...is the church innocent?
And just on a smaller note, when we talk about "gay" we usually only refer to men, excluding women. I've found many men who are very homophobic to feel excited at the idea of "lesbian" (or whatever you want to call it) love, which of course is pure hypocrisy. How and why would someone hate the one gender for being gay and not the other? Also churches don't regard of female gay relationships as much, they mainly (if not only) talk about male gay relationships. What I am saying is in no way related to the video or the argument above, but I just have to drop it here as a kind reminder that when we are talking about "gay" we shouldn't exclude the female gender and certainly not make sexistic discriminations (why is the one ok and not the other?)
Cat from United StatesYes but Nancy, people of Catholic consent do not accept their child as gay. Parents say they don't care if there kid is boy or girl as long as its healthy, but if there kid is trans they don't love them the same, or if there kid is gay they think there no longer healthy. Maybe he used this metaphorically, like take me to church because, god accepts everyone, so should you, please accept me and stop going against people for things they can't change. Again there was a time and place where you couldn't be black and equal to a white man and its still that way all over the place. Same with women and men. Women are just as equal if not better, but people are stuck in there old ways and need to move on to newer views. He isn't even gay, he is just a supporter, so give him some credit, even if the song is crappy, because Les Bi Honest (not trying to offend anyone), I didn't find it that appealing either.
Matt from HobartA very annoying song. Sooner this one is drowned out by newer hits the better.
Stephen from MelbourneGreat sounding song even if I don't agree with Hozier's view. Here is a Christian response to the song: http://theevangelion.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/take-me-to-church-does-jesus-love-gays.html
Jacob from NebraskaNancy is absolutely correct; true sight is always obscured by those who question it. Not that questioning it (Ex: Religion) is wrong, it's natural for humans to question. However Commenter Linda is a prime example as to why faith is a fantastic thing for humanity. She begins with snide remarks against those who believe in a higher being. She then defends her beliefs as though they are somehow 'better' than others. Afterwards stating that she believes everyone has the right to believe in whatever they want and even straining her vocabulary with words like, "Integrity, honesty, compassion, acceptance and tolerance". These were obviously only thrown in there to put down a religious reader. For if she actually did follow the path she so boldly claims she does, she wouldn't have chosen these words to describe herself. Tolerance is the ability to accept another's opinion, which she clearly cannot. Faith is there not for the control of humanity but rather for simple order with kindness and overall wellbeing. It's why when 'non-believers' began to come up as common, Christianity reacted out of fear, fear that they would lose society as a whole. If any sort of research was used in Linda's comment it would have helped her 'side' significantly. However because she so blindly jumped in to insult so quickly she came out only as prude, distasteful and unsatisfactory. I normally don't jump into asinine arguments like this, but Linda's comment was just too full of hypocritical statements and unjustified conclusions, I just felt like it would be fun. Yes, I accept every person for who they are no matter gender, race, religion, or culture. It's just sometimes people can be assholes, which I am being one right about now because I badgered Linda pretty hard, which I do apologize for, but what I said is the truth, there is no denying it. TL:DR. Linda is the reason why atheists have a bad reputation for being Impetuous and abhorrent people.
Nana from UsaIt's a great song but doesn't Hozier realize that the Catholic Church has a new pope? Even still, it's always fun to blame the church for society's problems. Makes for good song writing.
Red from UsaWOW. That's all I can say after reading these comments. How do you all get so wrapped up in the word "church", when it is not even the most important lyric behind the meaning of the song? The ideas about religion have a lot less to do with Hozier's intent than the feeling you have for another person, the depth of love for and losing yourself in another. God has very little to do with what he is referencing. It's just a song, enjoy it.
Ismael Garcia from Texas@Beau Your completely missing the point. And you have to give Nancy some wiggle room in her comment seeing as she couldn't exactly translate exactly what she mentioned to say because of her minimal English. BUT what she ment to say, at least in my opinion, is that God made sex for a man and a woman, yes. Because sex thru a man and woman are the only way to conceive. But also, God made sex to be enjoyed by a man and the woman he has married. Or visa versa. Regardless if she is ABLE to conceive a child or not. The Bible is not a book of fables and fairy tales. It's a book about creation, of examples of life, the consequences of certain decisions, and the story of Jesus' life. The commandments were created for us to follow, but Jesus made it as simple as it possibly could be to follow those commandments with the one main commandment, Love One Another. The whole world would be a much better place with that simple commandment. God is Love. So just as Nancy said, God loves every single man and woman. Regardless of their choices in life. Even Jesus hang out with prostitutes and had dinner with tax collectors (which were horrible people at the time). Doesn't mean he agreed with their lifestyle, just that he loved them as the people they were. Just as we Christians should be towards anybody's lifestyle choice. Rather than condemning them. God gave us the ability to make up our own minds, our own choices, make our own mistakes. But hopefully, ultimately, making the choice to love Him in the end.
Linda Teese from AustraliaThis is a powerful song. I think its incredible even though I found the video very confronting & brutal. I find it incredible that people actually believe the bible is the only truth. It wasn't written by any God, it was written by men. A book of fables and stories. It was written to bring laws and rules to control the masses. Before anyone gets the idea to lambast me for my beliefs please refrain. We all have the right to believe in whatever works for us. If the bible is working for you, that's fantastic but don't expect me to follow that path. I choose to follow a path where we are equal, doing the next right thing. Integrity, honesty, compassion acceptance and tolerance. Nature is the way for all living creatures to live, die and reproduce. Laws of nature, not god.
Beau from Usa@Nancy , Re: "sex is the most natural thing he gave us but its meant to be for a man a woman, who can reproduce naturally", so a woman who can't conceive due to health reasons or is too old to have children wasn't meant to have sex any longer? Argument invalid, sorry.
Nancy from UsaI like the beat of this song, didn't understand the lyrics at first because english isn't my first language but after reading them and reading the "meaning" its sad to see how people is being lied to, FIRST off, God never condemns sex, that is just not true, sex is the most natural thing he gave us but its meant to be for a man a woman, who can reproduce naturally....straight out man and man can't do that, so obviously it isn't natural. Don't try to force it down our throats don't get me wrong, I have nothing against homosexuals, I'm Christian Catholic and love every man just may not love their ways, but a true faithful would never damn anyone to hell or be prejudice, God along with our beliefs are pure love, people within the church who point fingers are sinners as well....
Anywho, the video shows nothing about The Church, so it's misleading, it shows a group of homophobics who don't represent The Chuch at all, or they wouldn't be expressing violence.
There, I believe in God and The Churches doctrines, if you don't, don't, it's up to you, but that will never stop me from wishing you the best and hoping for your conversion. God bless.
So in short, live and let live, don't be prejudice towards anything, including my faith.
Dakotah Domengeaux from MichiganI love this song and everything it inspires... individuality. My only comment is regarding the church. I disagree with everything. Church is not the Mother Judge. Live a little. We then understand after heartbreaks and failures the Bible is a guideline , a gift, if we adhere to it's words so shall we be saved. Years after, I realize after having all the sex, all the passion, the money anything. God just created a love song to protect us. It's all out there but do we want it? Try it and maybe you want it . Maybe you don't. I personally will stop blaming God for my problems.
Russell Mctom from Bohttp://www.towleroad.com/2014/11/mister-chase-covers-hoziers-take-me-to-church-video.html