When the revenant came down
We couldn't imagine what it was
In the spirit of three stars
The alien thing that took its form
Then to Lebanon, oh God
The flashing at night, the sirens grow and grow
Oh, history involved itself
Mysterious shade that took its form
Or what it was, incarnation, three stars
Delivering signs and dusting from their eyes

Lyrics submitted by thisismyname

Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI live in Highland, IL, and Lebanon is around where a UFO was sighted, close to Highland.

    The guy that saw it is this crazy 50 year old guy that mumbles a lot and owns a miniature golf place.
    ThePlaygroundMiracleon June 14, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI think he is loosely referencing the bible. I am no biblical scholar, but there is one passage that describes an object coming from the sky with three stars surounded by the faces of lions, that some say, in modern times would have been a fitting description of an UFO.

    So what I think he is trying to say, is that our perceptions are changed or evolve with history and our growing collective imagination. At one time, one group could interpret what they see as something biblical or caused by god and another group at a later time sees the same thing as something caused by aliens.
    lichtyon August 12, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI listened to 'Illinois' the whole way through the very first time I heard any of the songs, and I don't remember paying much attention to this one. But then one night I had this strange dream, and the only thing I could remember from it was this weird piano melody playing over and over and over. I spent so much time after that trying to figure out what the song was-- I could even play it on piano, but I couldn't remember any words or anything about the song besides that tune, so I had no luck finding it, and eventually forgot about it. And then one day my iPod was on shuffle, and I got a shiver down my spine as I heard those fateful notes ringing out again. It took a minute for me to realise why they seemed so familiar, because I'd forgotten all about the dream; it was almost like musical deja vu. So all lyrics and meanings aside, this song has one of the most haunting piano lines I've ever heard, even without being able to put a name to it.
    lemons41on September 30, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI won't pretend to know what this songs means or even implies as a whole, but for what it's worth, the last line is definitely in reference to Jesus. "delivering signs" is a phrase the Bible uses when talking about Jesus performing public miracles to prove his power, and "dusting from their eyes" is from a specific story where Jesus heals a blind man by spitting on the dust to make mud, then wiping the mud in the blind man's eyes. I think he references that specific miracle because the blind man had trouble understanding what he was seeing after he had been healed.
    thedrizzleon August 23, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is just so... mystical. I think its mood is very haunting, one full of awe.

    Looks like Sufjan connects UFO sightings with supernatural events, possibly God's incarnation as Jesus (always keep the bible in mind when interpreting his lyrics!) or the second coming of Jesus (according to the dictionary a "revenant" is "one that returns after death or a long absence")
    "Three stars" = the Trinity?
    "Delivering signs" = Jesus performing miracles?

    Hm, maybe this song shouldn't be overanalyzed like this.
    wookion May 23, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm going to have to agree that this song is about the incarnation of God in Jesus. I think what Sufjan is doing in this song is taking the UFO sighting as a jumping point to explore the idea of incarnation. Of course, I could be wrong, but it seems to make sense, especially with the whole bit about the alien thing taking its form.
    blackemmaon July 14, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is excellent, especially the line where he says, "history involved itself." very clever. i also feel this is the best song on the CD. it's so melodic and....perfect. good choice for an opener.
    Empirer85on August 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthe's comparing a UFO sighting to faith.

    like some may see faith as farfetched as UFO's.

    generally speaking.
    FBIlocanoon December 28, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm not a necessarily religious person and I can see the religious symbolism in this. The talk of incarnation, revenant (verbally similar to reverent even), the number three (the trinity), etc....

    For God's sake a revenant is someone who comes back after a long absence ... aka as Jesus is supposed to...
    letterstonoelleon December 31, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentInstead of all saying 'ooh it's so great', perhaps someone would venture to explain precisely what they think the 'history involved itself' line means?

    jamisonlikewhat that is the most pretentious post I've seen in a while...

    A few points. When a singer/songwriter writes about something they do not necessarily 'believe' anything they write. This could be purely fictional, written from someone else's point of view, intentionally obscure, and so on. So let's forget about what 'Sufjan believes...' etc.

    And what is he saying? I think there is no question that he has taken a literal (alleged) incident, being a UFO sighting, and is extrapolating from there. However, if you look for biblical themes, so shall ye find. You can work religion into nearly anything if you want to. Certainly particular parts could be references to the bible - the revenant and the trinity in particular - but they could equally be completely unrelated.

    I think lichty hit the nail on the head - it's neither one nor the other, it's more a reflection on the utter awe one would feel in seeing something mysterious and awesome come from the sky.

    By the way, if you want a somewhat more literal and equally awesome song about a UFO coming down to earth I strongly advise you to listen to 'The Happening' by the Pixies... they've come so far, I've lived this long, I must just go and say hello.
    caitsith01on March 06, 2006   Link

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