Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, "Lose your sight"
But I can't move the mountains for you


Lyrics submitted by Nobody-special


Timshel song meanings
Add your thoughts

71 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +5
    General CommentI've just read John Steinbeck's East Of Eden and have done a lot of thinking about this song since. Too much thinking, actually. The word 'timshel' is Hebrew and translates into English as 'thou mayest', according to East Of Eden. This will explain it a lot better than I can - timshel.org/…

    I read on YouTube (I think!) that this was written after falling into the sea at the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. This relates to the start of the song at least. After this, I get lost a little. If we stick to the 'thou mayest' interpretation, what I get is that the the singer is reaching out to someone and saying that the help is there if they want it, it's their choice.

    The lines "And you have your choices/And these are what make man great/His ladder to the stars" are basically taken straight out of East Of Eden, and are proof of sorts that the song's meaning is hidden in there somewhere.

    I'm aware that I haven't really done a great amount in helping to interpret the meaning of the song here, but there's plenty to think about, if theres anyone out there to do it. Only one previous comment!!? - Scandalous for a band of this quality.

    The song itself is simply breathtaking, I'm gonna see them in Dublin next week, can't wait!
    Nobody-specialon September 13, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHere is an except from Steinbeck's East of Eden that correlates directly wit the lines
    "And you have your choices
    And these are what make man great
    His ladder to the stars"

    "But 'Thou mayest'! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win"

    I believe the song is all simply about this great choice, not anything terribly specific such as the choice of abortion.
    maclmarton September 03, 2010   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretation Well, here's a completely different idea. This album has obvious Christian references. With the mention of water and birth, I'm wondering if this song doesn't speak about Baptism. I'm not talking about the popular idea that water washes you clean at baptism, but more the older idea that sin and evil are drowned and killed by baptism. Could the choice that was made be not that the woman had an abortion, but chose to have the child? This choice wasn't easy, and the songwriter can tell the dark side to , "lose your sight." But, he , "Can't move the mountains for you."
    It's a beautiful song on an interesting album. Don't have a clue if this is even close to what was intended, but it works for me.
    Partsguyon August 04, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Commentmumford and sons are so inspirational and moving. me and my husband bought this cd a few days before our son was born. after our son was born they told us he was going through heart failure and had to have a major operation immediately. In the months after the surgery while our son was still in the hospital we listened to this cd everyday on the ride to the hospital and every sad night when we had that sad drive home without our son. this cd changed my life and this one song in particular,

    And you are the mother
    The mother of your baby child
    The one to whom you gave life
    And you have your choices
    And these are what make man great
    His ladder to the stars


    to this day we still call our son the "little lion man"

    take mumford and sons music and let it move you in ways you never thought music could. i think thats what the band would want. xoxo
    natkingloveon March 09, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is a unique way of speaking to a women with an unwanted pregnancy. The lyrics speak to someone in a bleak situation 'Cold is the water, it freezes your already cold mind' and acknowledges that a life hangs in the balance 'death is at your doorstep.'

    Then, rather than preaching, legislating, or harassing the women, the lyrics gently promise that she will not be alone in this "you are not alone in this, as brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand."

    To clarify the situation, the next verse acknowledges that the women is pregnant "you are the mother" and acknowledges that the baby in the womb is a life "the one to whom you gave life."

    The KEY LINE in this song is "And you have your choices, and these are what make man great, his ladder to the stars." The take away is that this tough situation also presents a unique chance for heroism. The women can become great and help move towards heaven by making the right choice.

    So yes, the women has the choice. The law and politics are irrelevant. BUT, one's choices are of profound personal and spiritual consequence.
    fgh456on October 16, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My Opinionthis is such a beautiful song. the harmonies are amazing.
    elliellielliellieon August 11, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIT'S SO AMAZING TO ME THAT THEY CAN BE SO TALENTED...I MEAN, THEIR VOICES BLEND TOGETHER SO WELL, AND QUITE FRANKLY, MAKES ME WANT TO BREAK DOWN AND CRY! BEST BAND EVER! <3
    megallion October 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI first encountered this song quite randomly whilst coaching a dear friend through a decision about an unexpected pregnancy, and it perfectly captured the issues and dilemas, and the sense of support I was trying to convey in helping her make her own decisions. Not by influencing the outcome, but by helping her find what would ultimately be in her own best interests and cause the least regret faced with dificult choices.
    When I heard it, it reduced me to tears.
    What a perfect expression of the situation and the freindship I was trying to convey.
    She made the choice to keep the baby, and I know its the right decision for her. I'll never forget this song.
    Hand-holding Brotheron January 13, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdamn someone already wrote that
    whitlock1843on October 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI think that it is about someone who is feeling really numb and doesn't have any motivation in life,
    'death is at your doorstep, and it will steal your innocence, but it will not steal your substance, you are not alone in this"
    it means that you are so close to giving up, death being at your door step, and it has stolen your innocent mind, so things that you believed when you were little,
    like getting married and love and all that stuff that we get told is true by our parents, it's all gone and you don't believe in it so whats the point,
    they are saying that whoever this person is, they are not the only one who feels that way and they will do whatever they can to fix them, but "i won't move the mountain, for you" essentially is saying that whoever this person is, they have to cooperate in getting themselves back on track
    i have always found that mumford and sons are really clever at using metaphors in their lyrics, and this line especially, gets me everytime!
    brontethompsonon May 15, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain