"To Be Alone with You" is among the most explicitly Christian of Sufjan Stevens' songs. The narrator is speaking to Jesus Christ in reference to their relationship....
I'd swim across Lake Michigan
I'd sell my shoes
I'd give my body to be back again
In the rest of the room
To be alone with you
To be alone with you
To be alone with you
To be alone with you

You gave your body to the lonely
They took your clothes
You gave up a wife and a family
You gave your ghost
To be alone with me
To be alone with me
To be alone with me
You went up on a tree

To be alone with me
You went up on a tree

I've never known a man who loved me


Lyrics submitted by vwkeychain


To Be Alone with You song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentIt is about Jesus, Allthearmsweneed. On the cross, Jesus showed the perfect example of what love is. The cross provides access to God. There is no other way we could even pray to God without having a relationship with Christ - a believe and faith in Him. When Sufjan says "They took your clothes" , it is describing when the Roman soldiers took Jesus' clothes right before He was crucified (see Romans 19:23-24).

    In response to the line "You gave up a wife and a family" , Sufjan is trying to talk about the humanity of Christ. He was both fully human and fully God (see John 10:30). Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in -every- way - therefore He was tempted sexually, but He never sinned. A lot of times people have a picket-fence house dream of a family with 2.5 children and a dog and a cat, but Jesus chose a much harder life. And for one reason - to accompliish salvation for those who would believe in Him.

    In response to "You gave up your ghost", Sufjan speaks of the Holy Spirit. Because of the finished work on the cross, Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    "The tree" is another word for the cross since it was made out of the wood from trees.

    Allthearmsweneed, I hope this helps to relieve your confusion.

    For His Glory,
    PemberleyTea
    Colossians 1:19
    PemberleyTeaon January 01, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt's about Jesus.
    BrainDamageon November 19, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General CommentOuch gummi, PemberleyTea did offer some good insight on the meaning of a couple lines in the song, mind you. I agree with your last two paragraphs, though. Absolutely gorg. For me, a Christian, knowing that this song is about Jesus opens up a deeper connection with the lyrics which in turn allows me to enjoy the song even more. I find the last line, "I've never met a man who loved me" very intriguing. It could mean one of two things, depending on perspective.

    1) Sufjan saying "I've never met a man who loved me.." except for Jesus.
    2) Jesus saying "I've never met a man who loved me." But he loved man anyway.

    That's my take.
    beulahrawkon March 17, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Commentyou want to know the best thing about sufjan stevens? it's not the music, and the music is fucking amazing, by the way, it's not his lyrics, which, too, are fucking amazing.

    i think it's the idea that, no matter what you think about religion, you listen to him, and you just love it and you want to convince yourself that it's not religious or that it is, so you can feel good about yourself listening to it.

    guys, it doesn't matter how many times you analyze these lyrics. he's religious. he's said it. he means it. he's not going to write bad about it.

    oh, but here's the best part:
    it doesn't matter! he's a visionary, a vangaurd for his generation, and maybe, you should all stop fighting. if you like his music, listen to it, and stop hating. their his beliefs, you don't need to go around and change them, and you know what? you don't need to! so, stop fighting, i don't think sufjan would've wanted this anyway. if he wants to write about religion, it's his choice, and you should respect it.

    and another thing: the whole, "sufjan's gay, look at his lyrics!"

    we cannot determine whether or not he's gay or straight, and frankly, it doesn't matter. he can be whatever he wants to be, and we're not the judge of his lifestyle. let him live. he plays music because he loves it, and we're here on the sidelines listening to it, and that's all, and that's it.

    <3
    somwherefarbehindon April 26, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI don't see what's nice about Gummi, who elucidated nothing. Why react harshly over strong Christian views that are probably similar to Sufjan's?

    Walty- I was raised Christian and I was only allowed to listen to Christian music for a lot of my younger years. Some of the artists I found were good and even though I'm not Christian anymore I still listen to them. Pedro the Lion, Over the Rhine, Jennifer Knapp, and Sixpence None the Richer produce literate and innovative Christian music, though not quite of Sufjan's quality.
    snowflakereposeon June 25, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think the biggest problem with christian music in general is that it feels like it's just people patting themselves on the back saying "good job! we're christian so we'll write songs about jesus"

    this seems different, however. as the bible passages that have been cited have proved, there's a strong christian connection (but given how much of the bible there is, it seems possible to give almost any line, especially ones so vague, a christian slant). yet there's something about the christian explanation of the song that bothers me: the third and fourth lines. I dunno, they seem to suggest to me that he's somehow lost his connection. that he'd swim across lake michigan to be alone with the big J again. like it's a trial of faith rather than a pure devotional song.

    and to wrap this ramble up with my initial thought, that feeling is so disparate from, to use a example from the bottom of the barrel, apologetix's abomination "come out and pray". It doesn't scream we're better than you, it simply invites you to sit next to it a while and see what happens.
    windmills221bon July 17, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit's definitely about jesus. but it is beautiful anyhow.
    thegirlmostlovelyon March 06, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt\'s about Jesus. I wish he was singing about a woman; I could have made good use of this song on mixtapes that way.
    a town like parison April 22, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSufjan is such a great lyricist that even though this song is obviously about Jesus, it has that extra layer where you can apply its meaning to your own personal thing, even if you're not Christian. Several of his songs on Illinois are like that- multiple layers, both religious and secular. He's very good at that.

    So for those of you who say you know it's about Jesus "but...", youre right. There is another meaning, and it could be something totally personal to you that Sufjan intended to just be between you and the song.
    daybreaker2on January 19, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyes, it's about Jesus.
    The first verse is a current realization: Sufjan's longing to be near his saviour, he'd give anything to feel present, without distraction; one with God.
    The second verse describes what Sufjan feels Jesus gave up to be close to his broken people. The Lonely who took the clothes were the Roman Soldiers. Jesus gave up having a wife and a family. He did not marry. He gave his ghost....death. How can one be alone with someone if they are dead? Christians say Jesus rose again. This cannot be describing just any human.
    "To be alone with me you went up on a tree". the Bible calls the cross a tree. Christians sometimes still refer to it this way.
    the part about sufjan never knowing a man who loved him is a realization again. A sudden understanding of the existence of a different love. That love; beyond any love of a friend, a family member, even the deepest romantic love....is often unknown to us in this world. a sacrificial love that would give up anything for you and would love you even if you outright hated them.
    zurbaranon November 04, 2012   Link

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