I crewed on a fair golden ship that
went down at the dawn of the world
We mutinied had sentenced our captain to die
'fore our sails had barely unfurled

We sank shortly after our riot,
Wanton flames and our powder kegs met
While I swam for my life there came voices aloft,
joyful, unearthly, and dread

Singing of a violent, tireless mystery
That one would give his life to save his enemies

Too bone tired to keep my arms moving
To swim or even grasp out for straws
Undertow drew me down into its cold
and infinite, indigo jaws

I was singing of a violent, tireless mystery
That one would give his life to save his enemies

Thought I must be dead or dreaming
When my captain still battered, betrayed
Pulled me up, laid me over the beam he clung to
Breathed his last and sank under the waves

Your body is a bridge across an endless sea


Lyrics submitted by faithinthethief, edited by ChipperSpiff

The Great Exchange song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThis song is, most probably, a parable. The implications are obvious, and the meaning is stirring.

    The story in the song goes: A sailor, on a ship at the "dawn of the world" (the time of the discovery of the "New World", as referenced by the title... "The Great Exchange" is what historians call the passing of slaves from Africa to the new world, resources and new foods back to Europe, and then some money and resources to Africa repeating the cycle... however, the title doesn't just set the scene historically, but provides a sort of pun on the meaning...)

    The sailor and the rest of the crew mutinied against the captain and they sentenced him to die, to walk the plank, so to speak. The irony, of course, is that they sank after they mutinied against their captain... mutinies occur when crews are displeased with the captain's leadership or their progress, so to sink afterwords is a sort of foil.

    In the ocean water, the narrator swims for his life, becomes exhausted, and succumbs, thinking he will drown...

    And then his captain, clinging to wooden debris from the exploded ship, rescues him, most selfishly, by pulling is body across his support, giving up his own means of survival for the sailor who had helped to cause the entire predicament.


    So, the song is a message on selfish sacrifice of the betrayed for his enemies, and, considering Dustin's faith, its no far stretch to assume who the song's meaning parallels.

    I absolutely love this song! It's my favorite on this album, by far, and I really like the way he sings the lyrics; it makes the meaning more clear that way. For example, whenever I hear him say "We mutinied had sentenced our captain to die 'fore our sails", the way he sings it, sounds like "to die for our sins", and again, near the end, he says "Your body is a bridge across an endless sea", the way that he sings it it comes across as, to me, "your body is a bridge, a cross, an endless sea." If talking about Christ, the "bridge" is from one life to the next, the cross, well thats obvious, and an endless sea, which reminds me of the song "Open Water" from water, where he compares God to the seas... that part may be a stretch, but thats really the feeling that I get from that line.

    Anyways, the other imagery in this song, like the captain making the supreme sacrifice upon a beam of wood, really cement in me that this song is less disputably about Christ than some other songs: the metaphor is obvious.

    The great exchange is one life for another.

    That's what this song means to me.
    DISGUISTIPATEDon August 14, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor the few that think Dustin's faith has little to do with the lyrics of Thrice I have this to offer.

    05:51 PM on 08/11/09#1114
    DustinTHRICE
    Thrice / Dustin
    Offline
    User Info.

    Originally Posted by Derka Derka
    does your faith influence your lyrics and music?
    or do you try keep your beliefs separate from your music?

    I don't even know how that is possible, or if it is, I don't know that it should be pursued in any way. My life is integrated with my beliefs about life. What would be the point otherwise. If I write a song about anything, it is going to be filtered through my worldview. I guess the issue to start with, is that people try to compartmentalize their lives. If you are integrated, you don't have to try to write one thing or not write another, but the things that are most important to you cannot help but show up on every page, whether directly or indirectly.

    Source: absolutepunk.net/…
    SeVeNFoLdon August 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe above explanation is a really good one. I just wanted to add that when Martin Luther talked about Christ dying for the world's sins, he said Jesus died the death afforded to thieves, liars, murderers, betrayers, etc. Thus when the captain gives his life for the very man that cursed him, he dies the death that should be reserved for such aforementioned transgressors, directly simulating the act of Christ on the cross. It is only fitting, in relation to this song, that Luther himself called this instance "the great exchange."

    This song, to me, is a parable to mirror Luther's way of explaining the atonement.
    russellcpon August 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe story I get from this is that a crew mutinied against their captain, which ended in a sunken ship. The captain saved the narrator, a mutineer, even though he had betrayed him.
    A Usernameon July 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDustin needs to be like a novelist or something because the dude can write some deep literature. This, Burn the fleet, The Whaler, etc.
    lotsoffaceon August 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery piratey. tee hee hee :] one of my favorites off the album fo sho.
    kaytiluon August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyes, it undoubtedly is. jesus is indeed one who gave his life to save his enemies
    brooks450on August 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthrice is touring with brand new so get some damn tickets because theyre fucking incredible live
    auhsoj3on August 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentC.S. Lewis refers to Jesus as "our great Captain" in his sermon, "The Weight of Glory"
    brooks450on August 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favorite Thrice song. What a great picture of who Christ is, and who (including myself) man is.
    baner9588on September 03, 2009   Link

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