Awake through the night, and this flood water around her
Reminds her of the time and low country boys
And their bottles without her, though she’s on their minds

Hands in black mud, at the foot of the manger
She’ll always be young and free to be wrong
A black lamb licks the dirt off her feet with its tongue

We are blessed, aren’t we?
In the shade of these large auburn leaves
Unexpectedly we arrive where we’re all meant to be

Awake through the night, and she prays in the morning
For distance from harm and low country boys
With their wealth of protection and mean battle-arms

Hands in black mud, as she sits by the manger
And closes her eyes, the wind blows outside
A black car pulls the gravel and wants her to ride

So who will she love, with her head lowed like ashes?
The sky lost tonight, the wind blows outside
A glass jar in the window, her shape blocks the candlelight

Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher

Foot of the Manger song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commenti never really heard this s0ng but, n0b0dy c0mmented it s0 YA!!
    forever_loveon August 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've heard it and it's a nice song...
    manuelturcioson March 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last part, A glass jar in the window, her shape blocks the candlelight, sounds like something out of the moonlit sky, divine and enigmatic.
    manuelturcioson March 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI take that this song could be about a girl that is poor, and is obligated to hang out with rich guys cuz she obviously wants to better herself(or so she thinks). getting caught between the moral dilemma of not forgetting who you are as opposed to who other people expect you to be or act a certain way that is alien to you.
    manuelturcioson September 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song reminds me so much of growing up in the South. it's really a whole mindset that is represented beautifully in this song. one of my favorites by Iron and Wine.
    sammy142on January 25, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't understand why nobody has touched on the (to me) obvious religous undertones of the lyrics to this song, especailly in the chorus. It's a song about fate and faith, of the beauty and terrible sadness that coexist within a person who chooses to live within those lenses. In this case, i believe the lyrics are telling the story of Mary, who had never asked to host the immaculate conception, but took up the mantle given to her, making the best of the situation that presented itself.

    The case is being made that choosing the noble path can also be a very meloncholy decision. Self sacrifice, not always doing what one wants for the sake of others, plays the foil to our more animalistic tendencies in life.

    If one looks at this song as if the "she" were the virgin mary, then one can interpret the "flood waters" as the path of least resistance, or maybe less harsh, doing what is expected of her, with the "time" being her expectancy or time table for giving birth. The "low country boys" could refer to her old friends and the "bottles" as her old, relativly simpler or more carefree way of life and childhood.

    "Hands in black mud" could be a reference to learning the way of the world and having to toil to get by, to take care of her newborn son. The line "she'll always be young" implies naivity, which is juxtopposed to the concept of being "free to be wrong". It's almost sarcastic, seeing as youth is when most people are expected to make thier mistakes, but within the church, the virgin mary is seen as a moral compass, as a beacon of purity; and no matter what she may have or have not done, history chooses to remember her as near sinless. In biblical text, Christ is often refered to as the lamb, white, completly pure and sinless. So the black lamb is Mary's humanity, and she takes comfort in it. She is is a perfect blend of holiness and humanity, and she herself doesn't have to live up to the pressure of perfection.

    The entire chorus is speaking of having faith in God, being thankful for the things that are good in this life ("the shade of these large auburn leaves") and trusting in a higher plan ("we arrive where we're all meant to be")

    This next stanza is the most intriguing. When sung, there is a natural break between "she prays in the morning for distance from harm" and "and low country boys". The break gives a feel of finality to the statement. That she is only praying for protection from harm. However, if read, the line doesn't break and there is a feeling that she may be praying for protection from harm and the "low country boys", or a worldlier view of life. The latter version suggests that she is struggling to keep her faith placed in God and not so much the physical safeties of this world, thier seeming "wealth of protection". Conversly, if the low country boys are viewed as a completely seperate entity from the harm, one can come away with a feeling of security in them, perhaps placed thier by her faith, and that her faith in God and in the physical can coexist.

    The second mention of her hands in black mud could be refering to her life in retrospect, and how she is coming to see that the things thatshe sacrificed for were what she loved the most and is most reminiscent about. The idea of being at the foot of the manger again suggests that her life has come full circle to that defining moment in her life. Her closing of the eyes seems as a sign of sorrow, the "wind" signifying change and the "black car" is what one would take to a funeral, her son being crucified. "Wanting her to ride" as if it wants her to accept what has happened to her son.

    The last chorus can represent a wavering of faith on her part. "who will she love" now that her faith has let something terrible happen to her son? "Her head low like ashes" as in ash wednesday, which would not necessarily follow the chronology of the story, but traditionally represents a time of repentence. She may be feeling guilty for allowing herself to believe that God has forsaken her. The "glass jar" on the window with the candle inside could be a physical representation of her faith, with her "shape", or silhouette blocking it's light being the doubts that she has adopted through her life, culminating at the death of her son.

    These are just my thoughts, I would love to here what anyone else thinks about the song.
    viridiandyeon February 19, 2010   Link

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