Up those stone steps I climb
Hail this joyful day's return
Into its great shadowed vault I go
Hail the Pentecostal morn

The reading is from Luke 24
Where Christ returns to his loved ones
I look at the stone apostles
Think that it's alright for some

And I wish that I was made of stone
So that I would not have to see
A beauty impossible to define
A beauty impossible to believe

A beauty impossible to endure
The blood imparted in little sips
The smell of you still on my hands
As I bring the cup up to my lips

No God up in the sky
No devil beneath the sea
Could do the job that you did, baby
Of bringing me to my knees

Outside I sit on the stone steps
With nothing much to do
Forlorn and exhausted, baby
By the absence of you

Lyrics submitted by _ellie

Brompton Oratory song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +4
    General CommentThe third verse is very likely a reference to The Hunchback of Notre Dame; The classic 1939 film version with Charles Laughton ends with Quasimodo leaning on one of Notre Dame's stone gargoyle statues, bitterly saying "Why was I not made of stone like thee?" while seeing the beautiful Esmeralda go off with somebody else.
    terrycraigon July 01, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's a beautiful, fragile song; and although he's exhausted, the organ still rises and rises above the situation, elevating the singer as well. At least, that's what I feel ...

    Here's what Nick has to say about it (in an interview with Jim Pascoe):

    " ... But it's supposed to be where Christ, after the Resurrection, returns to his friends and shows himself to his disciples. I guess I was making a point in that song that some people have it lucky that people do return to them, and in my situation, it didn't seem like that was happening; in my ... in the relationship [PJ Harvey] that I'm talking about within that song it doesn't seem like that was going to happen."
    the_boatmanon October 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is my favourite nick cave and the bad seeds song. always makes me cry. its about someone who is so amazing that when their not there you cant bear it...
    weet_bixon January 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is my favourite nick cave song too. In fact, one of my all-time favourites by anyone. I love it, and it makes me cry more often than any other song I can think of. It is very very beautiful.
    dri-fton October 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Brompton Oratory is a smallish Catholic church in central London. He goes in when it's Easter. He's saying it's the day when Jesus came back long ago, but baby isn't coming back, even though he can still smell her on his fingers. And the shift from the resurrection to the stone statues of the disciples is just masterful. A real tear-jerker.
    futatoriuson November 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"smallish"? It's pretty fucking big, one of the largest Catholic Churches in London.
    JohnnyMarron March 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAt first listen, I had some trouble with this album. It's very sad and dark and mournful, but the stark, fragile beauty of the bare arrangements and Cave's stripped down poetry make it a very effective record. I can definitely see him wanting to kill his inner demons on this one. I think he's pretty much hopeless on this one: it's almost as if he's contemplating religion, the stone apostles, and Christ's return to his loved one, while being forced to acknowledge his loneliness and, perhaps, incapability to believe ("Think that it's alright for some")
    Marquezon January 15, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this site. I hadn't really thought about the meaning of this song very deeply, and whilst checking out Nick Cave lyrics I thought I'd look at this. Cave's explanation (thanks the boatman) has made the whole song make sense. I love The Boatman's Call but I'd never thought much about this song. Now it's constantly in my head and there's something beautiful about how the quiet resignation of the lyrics compliment the fairly restrained music.
    grazbosson February 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment24 lines. Still perfection.
    Thunder.Rd.on July 03, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' most beautiful & painful songs. The Brompton church is in London, he stops in hoping for some relief. He's also frustrated that he's so lonely from his recent breakup that he's turning to religious ritual. He describes an ethereal beauty in what the two shared in their relationship along with the beauty of Christ returning to his disciples (as recounted in Luke 24). Looking at the beauty in the church he wishes he could be made of stone (like the stone apostles gazing down) so that he wouldn't have to feel the pain and loneliness of the breakup. After the service he sits outside alone, exhausted by his former lover's absence.
    ddirkson November 06, 2017   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