She moves with shameless wonder
The perfect creature rarely seen
Since some lie I brought the thunder
When the land was godless and free

Her eyes look sharp and steady
Into the empty parts of me
Still my heart is heavy
With the hate of some other man's beliefs

Always a well dressed for
Who wouldn't spare the wrong
Never for me

Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
The purest expression of grief

Wondering who I'll copy
Muster in some tender charm
She feels no control of her body
She feels no safety in my arms

I've no language left to say it
All I do is crave to her
Breaking if I try to convey it
The broken love I make to her

All that I've been taught
And every word I've got
Is foreign to me

Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
The purest expression of grief

Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
The purest expression of grief

Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
Screaming the name
Of a foreigner's God
The purest expression of grief

Lyrics submitted by vulgardarling, edited by teaspill, VivGray22

Foreigner's God Lyrics as written by Andrew Hozier Byrne

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Foreigner's God song meanings
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  • +3
    My Interpretation

    I'm killed by the poetic meter of this lyric. The stresses evoke the rumble crash rumble rumble crash of a thunderstorm, and it is gorgeous.

    The song is about the uncertainty, isolation, and loneliness he feels upon abandoning the Catholic Church, and the culture it created. It also condemns the notion of original sin, and elevates sex to a religious experience.

    It posits that the people claiming to speak for God are liars aiming to enslave the majority of humanity with the motive of their own financial gain. It points out religion's corruption of sex from a pure and innocent to a shameful and vulgar act. It admits the confusion inherent in not having solid rules to follow. It laments the difficulty of rooting out cultural hangover. It condemns the abuse of human beings advocated by religion, and aims to escape it.

    Line-by-line with accurate lyrics, for anyone interested in the details:

    She moved with shameless wonder, The perfect creature rarely seen, Since some liar brought the thunder, When the land was godless and free.

    "Shameless wonder" evokes Genesis 2:25, in which Adam and Eve, innocent in the Garden, did not feel shame in being naked.

    The "thunder" is the thunder, or voice of God, above Moses on Mount Sinai before he brought down the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19).

    Men being "free" before the revelation makes one consider that the Israelites were then fleeing slavery from the Egyptians, but managed to be enslaved by God (or Moses, the "liar"), before reaching their destination.

    The Israelites were commanded to wait at the foot of the mountain in celibacy for three days before Moses brought down the Ten Commandments. This contrasts with the guiltless, innocent sexuality of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

    It is implied that sex was shameless and innocent before God, or Moses, started telling people what to do.

    "The perfect creature rarely seen" is perfect because she is shameless, and filled with wonder, by her own sexuality. She can innocently have sex, and be sexual: A rarity after Christianity.

    Her eyes look sharp and steady, Into the empty parts of me, But still my heart is heavy, With the hate of some other man's beliefs.

    "Empty parts" because his foundational education and upbringing were removed, leaving nothing upon which to build his identity.

    What can be seen by her "sharp and steady", incisive and fearless eyes is his despair at the hatred caused by the beliefs he has abandoned.

    "Some other man" is markedly dismissive, driving home the falseness of Christian beliefs, as well as divorcing the speaker from those beliefs.

    Always a well dressed fraud, Who wouldn't spare the rod, Never for me.

    Spare the rod, spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24). The person administering the beatings being well-dressed contrasts the poverty advocated in the Bible, demonstrating his true aim and his fraudulent nature.

    "Never for me" divorces the speaker from all of it. There is also a play on the religious never sparing him from verbal beatings for his behavior.

    Screaming the name of a foreigner's god, The purest expression of grief.

    This after the last verse always makes me smile, because I can't help thinking about the scene in the Blues Brothers where they're getting beaten by the nun for swearing... and can't stop blaspheming as she's doing it, because it hurts, and people cry out when it hurts.

    And I'm sure that's exactly what he's talking about.

    His heart is heavy, he cries out in pain, and when he does so it's in the name of a god that is not his own: Jesus Christ. A very natural, very bitter irony, especially when it's the societal effects of that lie you're lamenting.

    God is a "foreigner's god" for two reasons. First, because it's the God of the Israelites, the Church just stole and warped it. Secondly, because the precepts of the Catholic Church was rejected by the speaker, and he has become a foreigner to his prevailing culture by doing so.

    Wondering who I copy, Mustering some tender charm, She feels no control of her body, She feels no safety in my arms.

    The last two lines here, "no control", "no safety", reference the institutionalized repression of women and rape culture, respectively.

    Those who accept our current culture and its religious basis continue acting as proscribed, and continue propagating those ills.

    He wonders who he copies because he's not doing that, he's trying to muster a "tender charm" instead of the traditional violence, but he lacks a template to "copy".

    I've no language left to say it, But all I do is quake to her, Breaking if I try convey it, The broken love I make to her.

    In Exodus 19, the voice of God was quite literally the thunderstorm itself. God spoke without words and language. Likewise, here the speaker is quaking and breaking: wordless, divine, primal.

    It elevates the act of lovemaking by conflating it with the manifestation of God that preceded human codification.

    All that I've been taught, And every word I've got, Is foreign to me.

    "Who told you that you were naked?" Genesis 3:11. Not God, he was just the storm. It was the liar who brought the thunder.

    Getting back to the storm is getting back to the divine.

    teaspillon June 24, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I think it's a song about using sex to get over grief, I mean I think it's pretty obviously a song about sex - "All I do is crave to her / Breaking if I try to convey it /The broken love I make to her"

    I feel like the reason that the god is foreign because of the grief she is feeling. She is screaming the god's name while sleeping with the man.

    I've not thought this through too deeply but this is definitely the feeling I'm getting from it.

    tobiinon December 30, 2014   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    This song tears my heart out. I love it. I’ve never seen a discussion by Hozier of what he was thinking when he was writing it, but a story always arises in my mind when I listen. It seems to be an exploration of the enslavement of women from the point of view of a man perceptive enough to question what he is doing and be troubled when the slave he is committing whatever you call a sexual act committed on a slave screams the name of the god of her people, lost to her. She seems to have come from a country the man despises, and yet she fascinates him. It could be an ancient story from any of thousands of years in our troubled past or it could be about a slaveholder in the American South or it could be a story of contemporary slavery. What an idea! Once again he has flipped the story to explore it from an unexpected point of view.

    marycbon February 12, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    His heart is heavy with "some other man's beliefs", with all the teachings by the "well dressed frauds" in Catholic priests' shiny outfits. His guilty conscience doesn't let him spare the rod for himself, so he makes "broken love to her" whilst it turns out "she feels no safety in his arms" either. Why is that? "She moved with shameless wonder" to begin with, was that when she was still innocent?

    He's wondering whether the primitives "when the land was godless and free" were having sex casually, without guilt, without shame. Animals have heat and mating seasons, their yin and yang come together under the laws of nature, which are the laws of God, everything in nature happens under the Divine rhythm and in the pattern of God, that's why we see divinity in the natural world.

    Wondering "who to copy" and admitting " no language left to say it" he's thinking if he screams 'Jesus Christ' it feels wrong, since the well dressed frauds tainted everything and his old religion feels foreign, but if he should try to scream in the name of some ancient Celtic Goddess' name, would that be more true? Who will answer his prayer?

    Perhaps the girl's psyche is ruled by the ancient Mother Nature, who's whispering to her ear that sex is not the same for Eve as it is to Adam, because Eve is made in the shape of the earthly Goddess herself: yin and yang together will make her first create life in herself then create food for the new life, not so different from the ancient Goddess Mother Earth. "She feels no control over her body", because the man's love is happening to her. Sex is not a sin, but her body is made in the shape of the Goddess.

    pompandpompon June 30, 2021   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    it's a bit crude but there is a tendency to cry out to god the throes of climax or even strong grief and shock. If you don't worship God who are you calling to in that moment? You aren't invoking a Christian entity, you definitely don't want the pope sitting in or a beardy man in the sky peering down in you ( unless that's your hing) but you still scream " oh god" when you are overcome. God is often described as something incomprehensible and bigger than ourselves. Seems like a bit of poking gentle fun at the church, that a semi religious experience can be achieved where we feel at once connected and dissolved during sex. The church plays gatekeeper to that euphoric oblivion by controlling the sexuality of women and monopolising the right to lawful marriage. By controlling our sexuality they control us. But sex was around long before we began to dream of gods and yet we have become so divorced from our nature and so emotionally repressed that the only way we can describe the way we feel is to cry out to the very entity that castrates us. The British isles are only recently Christianised and one can't help but wonder who we called out to before the church rolled in from the East.

    Fiery biscuitson September 23, 2018   Link

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