Once in a while, you may think you see better than the others
Scrambling around in the dark with your drum
There is a time when young men must grow up and be brothers
Are you afraid of growing too fast?

And the child with the star on his head
All of the world rests on his shoulders
And the mother with the child on her breast
Blessed is she among women

And the trust we put in things
In small ideas, in engineering
The world of sports and second best
In consequences we will not put to rest

Why crawl around in the snow
When you know I am right here
Waiting for you to expect something more?

For I am warm, I am calling you close to my table
Where I have made us a feast
For the year of troubles, they have gone
The winter brings a Christmas song

And the child with the star on his head
All of the world rests on his shoulders
And the mother with the child on her breast
Blessed is she among women

Does all the world know better than
When Christmas comes the troubles end
The troubles end, the troubles end

And by the time there’s nothing left
An empty tree, a winter vest
A winter vest, a winter vest

And all the trust we put in things
In dictionaries, in engineering
In calendars, and television
And father’s friends, and consequences


Lyrics submitted by rainandrev

The Child with the Star on His Head song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationI usually just like to peruse the interpretations, but, as a Christian, I have found that many people have a hard time honing in on Sufjan's dense Christian imagery. This song is inherently...though, in typical Sufjan fashion, not overtly...about the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Christ' incarnation, or more plainly, about finding out what it means to be Christian in a pagan world.

    I don't read too much into some of these lyrics...or maybe I just don't know what he means in all of them. The scrambling around in the dark reminds me of Plato's cave, where we sit around watching shadows on the wall thinking that we've found what's real, true, and beautiful, when we've only seen a wimpy projection of that truth. Every once in a while, we might ascend out of the cave to catch a whiff of the beautiful Son, but so often, we are merely toying around with ugly things that we call beautiful. Eventually, we need to grow up and see this Beauty. I'm not sure if that latter half refers to the Christian familial greetings between brothers and sisters...or echoes Jewish stories about familial separation and reconciliation (i.e. the prodigal son)...or maybe he just liked that image...I dunno. Everything doesn't have to fit exactly.

    I'm pretty sure that the star on the head is a halo...used to denote holy people in icons and classical Christian art. The mother is the Virgin, blessed among women. I love that she is included here...I'm not Eastern Orthodox or Catholic, but the idea that a woman nursed a divine child...one that has the Government/the world polis on his shoulders...that he needed to be mothered and nursed...just fits this song perfectly...and enlightens any of the Christian faithful.

    Here we have the prodigal connection again...Christ calling those to the great banquet, which was denied by those honored with an invite, but taken up by the outcasts. It seems so silly that anyone would sit shivering in the cold, on the outside looking into such a wonderful scene...but there we are in the cave, fooling around with shadows...with empty things like schedules, and networking, and upward social mobility, and sports, and TV specials, and even with our own brokenness. I think the greatest image in this is engineering...I think of driving onto a bridge, simply assuming that the people who designed it were correct in their judgment. So much of our constructed lives are touched by engineers...not that those people are evil...but how empty are those building in comparison with what Sufjan describes in this album?

    And so, when Winter moves on into Spring, we are left with silly things like Christmas sweaters. They are ugly out of season, and go up in the closet for next year. Isn't magic of Christmas something underneath all this silly facade that we engineer? Something so simple as a boy lying in a manger...God Himself...and how He brings us together, beyond all the things with which we waste our lives...brings us to Him.

    I'm not assuming that everyone agrees with Christianity...but Sufjan's faith shines through so beautifully in this song...as it does in much of his music, if you know what you're looking at. That's not to say non-Christians don't enjoy the music as well, but you might want to at least look into the imagery if you're not familiar and you enjoy this album and others, like Seven Swans or Michigan. Sufjan is one of my favorite artists, as he is obviously Christian without having to force his faith into his art. Simply beautiful!
    thawhiteshadowon December 11, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmodern christmas hymn, weary and disillusioned and in spite of everything, completely comforting.
    lura04on December 04, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh my, Sufjan's voice! It sounds so weary and mature. Love this song, hopefully a taster of what's to come. Thanks to rainandrev for posting the lyrics.
    baroquepopon December 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere can I find this song? Anyone?!
    I've been looking and looking
    packtsardineson April 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so epic. One of his best Christmas ones yet, and so frightfully deliciously long.
    I read the lyrics one over and it resonated with me about how Christmas should be a time of rest of a timeout from the various garbage we think we need in our lives, like engineering, dictionaries, even calendars. The child-mother references seem pretty obvious Jesus and Mary to me (someone can, and will attempt to dispute that; fine). LAst year I thought about giving on Christmas, cause after peeling away the layers of materialism and fake Christmas trees and mall tramplings, what was left? How do you celebrate a little boy's birthday if they're not longer in the flesh? This year, I've been realizing that salvation was born; an escape from the trappings of eye-for-an-eye, competitive pricing, material addiction, social "norms," blaming your boring life on the government, etc. Like Sufjan, I still believe Christmas is a time to get away from it all.
    stickSMbuggon December 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEven without taking into consideration all of the lyrics, this song really speaks to me of disillusionment with the modern commercialisation of Christmas and the numbness that occurs in the realisation that most of the good we ever tried to attribute to this bastardised pagan holiday has all but faded away now. And yet, like that star over Bethlehem, the idea of Advent transformation and of possible rescue shines on in the hearts of some noble believers. And shine on it shall!
    peanutisminton October 19, 2013   Link

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