"Muddy Hymnal" as written by and Samuel Ervin Beam....
We found your name across the chapel door
Carved in cursive with a table fork
Muddy hymnals
And some boot marks where you'd been

The shaking preacher told the captain's man
The righteous suffer in a fallen land
And pulled the shade
To keep the crowd from peeking in

We found your children by the tavern door
With wooden buttons and an apple core
Playing house
And telling everyone you'd drowned

The begging choir told the captain's man
We all assume the worst the best we can
And for a round or two
They'd gladly track you down

We found you sleeping by your lover's stone
A ream of paper and a telephone
A broken bow
Across a long lost violin

Your lover's angel told the captain's man
It never ends the way we had it planned
And kissed her palm
And placed it on your dreaming head


Lyrics submitted by slickboot, edited by JAlPrufrock

"Muddy Hymnal" as written by Samuel Ervin Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Muddy Hymnal song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationWe found you sleeping by your lover's stone
    A ream of paper and a telephone
    -- A ream of paper is useless without a typewriter. A telephone is useless without a cord, which it likely doesn't have out in the middle of a cemetery.

    A broken bow across a long lost violin
    -- A broken bow isn't going to make any music on a violin that isn't even there.

    Written word, spoken word, and music are all forms of communication. Sam has so poignantly expressed a complete inability to communicate here, despite the subject's desperate desire to bridge the gap between the living and the dead to be closer with his lost love.

    I see this song as a story, and I personally don't care if the lover was the captain's wife, the captain's fiancee, or the subject's wife. It's beautiful. This song is simple yet cryptic and incredibly beautiful. One of the songs that drew me in to Iron & Wine.
    virtuallypainlesson April 29, 2009   Link

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