"Seven Spanish Angels' is a 1984 single written by Troy Seals and Eddie Setser and recorded by Ray Charles with Willie Nelson. "Seven Spanish Angels" would be the most successful of Ray Charles' eight hits...
He looked down into her brown eyes
Said, "Say a prayer for me"
She threw her arms around him
Whispered, "God will keep us free"
And they could hear the riders comin'
He said, "This is my last fight
If they take me back to Texas
They won't take me back alive"

And there were seven Spanish angels
At the altar of the sun
They were prayin' for the lovers
In the valley of the gun
And when the battle stopped
And the smoke cleared
There was thunder from the throne
And seven Spanish angels
Took another angel home

She reached down and picked the gun up
That lay smokin' in his hand
Said, "Father please forgive me
I can't make it without my man"
And she knew the gun was empty
And she knew she couldn't win
But her final prayer was answered
When the rifles fired again


Lyrics submitted by fallacies

"Seven Spanish Angels" as written by Troy Harold/setser Seals

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Seven Spanish Angels song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentCan't believe that there are no comments on this classic.

    To me it sounds like it's about an American who went down to Mexico and fell in love with a Mexican girl(note he specifically mentions that she has brown eyes) in a time when it probably wasn't a good idea for an American to be in Mexico with a Mexican girl. And the wrong people found out about it, and they came to take the guy away, back to America. But he refuses to leave, and makes a stand only to be gunned down. The woman decides that she is gonna do the same, they both die and the spanish angels take them away.

    I guess it's pretty straight forward, but it's a good piece of storytelling none-the-less.
    Muzzyon January 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song tells the tale of someone who is been chased by the law for a crime he committed in texas. While on the run he fell in love. When the law men finally catch up with him, he won't let them take him alive. Heartbroken about losing her man she decides to join him on "the other side"
    CMABCAon September 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is, obviously, filled with Biblical imagery, and most of it comes from the Book of Revelations.

    He looked down into her brown eyes,
    Said, " Say a prayer for me."
    She threw her arms around him,
    Whispered, "God will keep us free."
    And they could hear the riders comin,
    He said, "This is my last fight.
    If they take me back to Texas,
    They won't take me back alive."

    The first stanza is clearly just setting the tone, though line 2, 4, and 5 set the religious overtone. Line 5, saying "could hear the riders", refers not only to the enemy army, but also to the riders in the book of revelations. The four horsemen, bringing all sorts of death and destruction with them.

    And there were seven Spanish Angels,
    At the alter of the Sun.

    The 7 angels and an allusion to the 7 angels in Revelations, who undo the 7 seals of heaven, and release the 7 judgments upon the world. In this context, it clearly foreshadows the tragic end of the two lovers.

    The alter of the sun may be a reference to a place, but Sun always refers to God. Altar is most likely church.

    They were prayin' for the lovers,
    In the valley of the gun.

    Valley of the gun most likely refers to Psalm 23, which contains the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Despite the fact that the 7 angels destroy most of the world in Revelations, their true purpose is to save those deemed worthy to get into God's kingdom. In the context of the song, the angels here are most likely priests, or fellow townsmen/women.

    And when the battle stopped,
    And the smoke cleared.
    There was thunder from the throne.
    And seven Spanish angels,
    Took another angel home.

    The throne refers to God, which in Revelations is constantly mentioned that God alone sits atop a throne in heaven. The 7 angels taking the other angel home clearly means the male at the start of the song died, but did so in battle and righteously. He is saved, so to speak, by the angels.

    She reached down and picked the gun up,
    That lay smokin in his hand.
    Said, "Father please forgive me,
    I can't make it without my man."

    Suicide is, as nearly everyone knows, a sin. Hence the beg for forgiveness. Also, if she were to succeed and forgiven, she would make it into heaven, though it would be unlikely to happen, as in Revelations God is very stern and saves only the most loyal to him.

    And she knew the gun was empty,
    And she knew she couldn't win.
    But her final prayer was answered,
    When the rifles fired again.

    But, it does not say that she fired. She knew the gun was empty, and that she could not win. So therefore, she most likely did not attempt it. As a result of this metaphorical test of faith, God rewards her by giving her final wish. And as death may seem like a funny reward, remember that those left living suffered in hellfire, whereas those that died right away were saved, allowed to live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    On the surface, this song is about two star crossed lovers during, most likely, the Mexican War. It uses far more religious allusions, however, than one would even think. Also, it has a good beat.

    Impaired_Casingon December 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation(oops ... posting this as a separate comment rather than under 'replies')

    She reached down and picked the gun up,
    That lay smokin in his hand.
    Said, "Father please forgive me,
    I can't make it without my man.
    And she knew the gun was empty,
    And she knew she couldn't win.
    But her final prayer was answered,
    When the rifles fired again.

    There is a deep sadness in the self-determination here. I think that she did decide to end her life, the technicalities of what constitutes suicide notwithstanding, and that her expectation when she picked up the gun was that she would be killed by the riders some of whom supposedly would not realize that the gun was empty.

    Her feelings of hopeless loss (and empathy) on the death of her lover overshadowed her understanding of the sense of the moral wrong in giving up on her own life. The integrity in that sense of self-sacrifice seems to me to be the strongest emotional focus of the story. There is no closing section in the lyrics referring to the seven angels taking her to heaven, although one could argue that her final prayer was to be forgiven and she was (and should have been).

    With regards to the reference to a specific number of angels, the earlier posting makes a good case for referencing the seven angels noted in Revelations. I'm not sure, however, what that adds to the contextual meaning of the song, although the references to seven angels does add emotional content, providing both a sense of something that is more specific and weighty as well as something that is more undefined/cryptic.

    FWIW, the following are some of the key references in Revelations (American King James version):

    Revelations 1:20 - "The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches."

    Revelations 8:06 - "And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."

    Revelation 21:9 - "And there came to me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

    Since the references in the bible to seven angels are pretty much limited to the context of Revelations, it seems preferable to consider the references to seven angels in the Willie Nelson / Ray Charles song as being separate from the specific context of Revelations and, pending any further insights on what the seven angels would be referencing, to just be a somewhat separate and very loosely related allegorical reference.
    DeeSongson January 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Memoryyou know how a certain song, after not hearing it for a very long time, can make you feel strange? the other day, this song came on the radio, and it had been 10 or so years since I had heard it. I'm not a rock, neither am I a cry-baby, but this song brought tears to my eyes. my own reaction was unexpected.

    i really like the way they tell an entire story of these two, in a few very meaningful lines. what a great song!
    archerynuton January 29, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningRiders were coming to take him back to Texas. It is a country song, so a posse of some sort. The lovers at an are at "the altar of the sun." There is also "thunder from the throne" and "seven Spanish angels." My image is of an Aztec ruin, maybe a pyramid with an altar and seat at the top. The angels seem to me best explained as statuary at a church. If there were an Aztec temple which was not destroyed, it makes sense that a Christian Church might be built nearby. So the image, for me, is of Mexico, a hot day with cumulo-nimbus clouds, a Mexican girl brought her lover deep into Mexico (bandito territory - the valley of the gun) to escape from the law in Texas and to claim the sanctuary of her home church. There is a shootout. Sudden silence, smoke clears(from black powder cartridge weapons so that makes it very late nineteenth or very early twentieth centruy) and then thunder from above, seemingly from the ruins. A lot of very good atmospherics.
    dante99654on September 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song invokes South Mexico's rich history of Aztec and Mayan cultures.

    The songwriters knew of the Legend of the Lovers. There is a Mayan temple in the Yucatan called Temple of the Seven Dolls, Dzibilchaltún. The Alter of the Sun is a real place also, located in the great Maya city of Palenque in southern Mexico. The song also invokes La Malinche, a slave woman given to Hernan Cortes when he conquered the Maya and Aztecs, as she is depicted in Mexican artwork showing women who stand alongside men in battle. Finally, this song invokes La Noche Triste ("the sorrowful night") on June 30, 1520, an important event during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

    What used to be thought of as an Aztec calendar is the actually an altar. The death of this couple, two warriors, alludes to the "Sun Stone" which is a “temalacatl” — a sacrificial altar — the idea was that warriors would be tied to it for gladiatorial sacrifices. Palenque also held other temples, an aqueduct, and a palace with a three-story tower. There are many Aztec altars in Mexico, but since this one is closest to the Temple of 7 dolls (angels) it seems most fitting.

    There is another altar, the stone of Moctezuma, which depicts11 conquest scenes of the Aztec defeating the Maya. Since it was found in 1988, 4 years after & Spanish Angels was written, it is not the subject of this song, but it was known that the Spanish destroyed the ceremonial center of the Tenochtitlan, and built a large Palace, which is resting on many pre-Columbian artifacts.

    Another "sun stone" altar that was found in 1790, under the palaces the Spanish built on top of Aztec structures, called the Stone of the Five Eras. It was found when repairs were being done to the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City, built in sections from 1573 to 1813, on top of Aztec religious places as a sign of conquest of these beautiful but now oppressed people. Why is my mention of oppression significant? Because this song is pure allegory, and it fits in with the legends coming out of the region.

    Ever go into a Mexican restaurant and see really colorful paintings of a handsome Aztec warrior holding a beautiful woman in his arms, next to two mountains? This is a really popular legend. The native peoples are represented by the lovers, the man and woman in this song. Part of the rich cultural history of this area is the Legend of the Lovers. Aztec mythology relates the legend of Mt. Popocatepetl and Mt. Iztaccihuatl ("white woman"), two glacier-iced volcanoes just outside Mexico city, represented as two starred-crossed lovers. The peaks of Izta are in the shape of a reclining woman. The other mountain is the man "Don Goyo", overlooking her.

    This is something like a Romeo and Juliet story, with the woman killing herself because she couldn't live without her love. In Aztec mythology, the volcanoes were once humans who were deeply in love. This legend features two star-crossed lovers, the young brave warrior Popocat'petl and the beautiful princess Iztacc'huatl. The father of Iztacc'huatl, a mighty ruler, placed a demanding condition upon Popocat'petl before he could take Iztacc'huatl as his bride. His mandate required that Popocat'petl first engage in battle against the tribe's enemy (Maya) and return victorious. Variations of the legend include the added stipulation that Popocat'petl needed to return with the vanquished enemy's head as proof of his success.

    Popocat'petl set off for battle with Iztacc'huatl waiting for her beloved's return. A false message was sent back to the ruler by Tlaxcala, that the warrior has been slain when in fact, Popocat'petl has won the battle and is ready to return to his Iztacc'huatl. However, the princess upon hearing the false news,dies of a broken heart.

    Popocat'petl returns alive, but grief-stricken beyond measure, dies next to his beloved. The Gods, touched by the lovers' plight, turn the humans into mountains, so that they may finally be together. They remain so to this day with Popocat'petl residing over his princess Iztacc'huatl, while she lay asleep. On occasion, Popo will spew ash, reminding those watching that he is always in attendance, that he will never leave the side of his beloved Izta.

    As for the coward, Tlaxcala, who lied to Iztaccihuatl, overcome with repentance for the tragedy that ensued, he went off to die very near his land. He also became a mountain, Pico de Orizaba, another of the region’s volcanoes and now, from afar, watches the eternal dream of the two lovers, never again to be separated.

    In the same area the culture holds a festival called Day of the Dead.

    Troy Seals (famous musician family, ie Seals & Croft) and Eddie Setser wrote this song.
    LaVaqueraon July 21, 2013   Link
  • 0
    Link(s)I mean links in a general way, not URL. The story told in Seven Spanish Angels is linked in my mind to the movie, Colorado Territory. Desperado played by Joel McCrea is trapped in the Valley of the Dead by a posse of fifty men. He vows not to go back to jail. He's ultimately shot dead and his lover, Colorado, played by Virginia Mayo, picks up his gun, knowing there's no ammunition. She's shot dead as well. Awfully close.
    IMDb says it was a remake of High Sierra starring Humphrey Bogart. I see more connection to the song than to the earlier movie.
    angusbon June 11, 2014   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI should note agreement with the earlier posting from "Imparied Casing" that, iIn the context of the song, the angels here are most likely priests, or fellow townsmen/women".

    Another reason for considering the references to seven angels to be different from the references in Revelations is because the song refers to seven *Spanish* angels, whereas Revelations 1:20 makes reference to "the angels of the seven churches" and Revelations 1:4 refers to "the seven churches which are in Asia". Apologies for now being obsessively analytical on this item. 'Nuff said. I'll focus on just enjoying the song itself.
    DeeSongson January 05, 2009   Link

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