I don’t know why.
I just love this song.
I suppose it’s because it sounds a lot like me in some ways.
Hozier’s “Work Song” is a strange piece of music. I suppose that’s Hozier’s thing. But it takes a subtle rhythmic grip on me.
But the lyrics are a mixture of dripping sweetness and grave self-awareness.
My baby’s sweet as can be, she give me toothaches just from kissin’ me
I was three days on a drunken sin
You might want to give it a listen.
That unique juxtaposition is part of what attracts me. The absurdity of some of the claims rival the most trite of love songs. When you consider the chorus, you see the hyperbole that simply underlines the depth of the love he is striving to express.
When my time comes around lay me gently in the cold dark earth No grave can hold my body down I’ll crawl home to her
You hear these words and you know that it’s a deliberate overstatement of the reality it’s meant to express.
But there’s something deeper here that stands out to me that I suspect was richer than even the lyricist had intended. The idea that this human love can endure even the separating chasm of death is a stretch even for a dreamer like myself. But the notion that there is a love deep enough to overcome the grip of the grave is not simply a stretch.
As a follower of Jesus, I understand that Jesus was God in the flesh. God came near and lived the perfect life that none of us could possibly live. Then Jesus lay His own body on a cross to endure the penalty of death that you and I deserve because of our selfish hijacking of our life from the One who made us for Himself.
Jesus’ lifeless body was placed “in the cold dark earth,” (to borrow Hozier’s expression). But, in something so very much more than an expressive dramatization, Jesus did rise from that grave.
But there’s more. The Scriptures unfold for us the plan for Jesus to return some day and gather His beloved, His Church, to Himself and take us out of this mess.
I know that this was probably not on Hozier’s mind when he penned these lyrics, but he is overstating a love that, in his human brokenness (just like the rest of us), he wants to be true—that he could crawl right out of the grave to return to his beloved. But, as I hear these words, my mind is drawn to the promise of the One who died for me. Because He died and conquered the grave for me and, out of His incredible love for me, is preparing a place in His own presence for me.
SO… in a very real way, when my time comes around and my body is placed in the cold, dark earth, my spirit will fly on home to my Beloved. And then one day my body will join—having been instantly transformed to be like Jesus’ own glorious body—to spend forever in a state of everlasting wonder and peace.
But the wonder of all of this is not even the overcoming of the grave. In fact, the second verse of Hozier’s work paints a picture I want to draw to your attention.
Boys when my baby found me I was three days on a drunken sin I woke with her walls around me Nothin’ in her room but an empty crib And I was burnin’ up with fever I didn’t care much how long I lived But I swear I thought I dreamed her She never asked me once about the wrong I did
Hozier expresses here a picture of what I believe is the greatest wonder in all of the Story. It is the wonder of grace.
Just like his description, my Beloved, my Savior, came to my rescue when I was wallowing in the gravity of my sin. When I accepted His help, all of the mess, all of the sin, all of the self-absorption was washed away.
It wasn’t that I was worthy or even worth it. It sure wasn’t that I was good enough. It was entirely out of the substance of His own character. He gave me a new life that will not end in a grave. It’s going forever beyond that.
No grave can hold my body down.
I’ll be raised to be with Him.
Now… I think this is a great song. But it’s what it points me to that strikes such a chord in me. But, at the same time, it makes me think a great deal about the most powerful earthly gift I’ve been given—my partner, my helper, my refuge here in this world. And when Hozier sings about crawling home to his love even out of the grave, I get it. I’m that kind of crazy in love with my girl too.
But that love was a gift with a higher purpose. It was given me to help me see here a glimpse of the more wondrous, more powerful, everlasting intimacy for which we were made.
That makes me want to simply hold her close and give thanks.
I think I shall.