235 Meanings
Add Yours
Share

White Winter Hymnal Lyrics

I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the,
I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied 'round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin' in the snow
And I turned 'round and there you go.
And Michael you would fall,
And turn the white snow
Red as strawberries in the summertime.

OooOooOOoOoooOooooOOOOOOOOOOO (X2)

I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied 'round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin' in the snow
And I turned 'round and there you go.
And Michael you would fall,
And turn the white snow
Red as strawberries in the summertime.

OooOooOOoOoooOooooOOOOOOOOOOO (x2)

I was following the pack,
All swallowed in their coats
With scarves of red tied 'round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin' in the snow
And I turned 'round and there you go.
And Michael you would fall,
And turn the white snow
Red as strawberries in the summertime....

OooOooOOoOoooOooooOOOOOOOOOOO(x2)
235 Meanings
An error occured.

I think of this song as a little frame of a childhood memory - maybe of a five or six year old. He is with a bunch of children, maybe running after the older kids, who just look like a bunch of coats since they are so bundled up. He thinks in his child's mind that the scarves keep their heads from falling off. Then he looks behind him and his friend has fallen and hurt himself and there is bright red blood in the snow. Sometimes a memory like that sticks with you even though you can't remember anything else about it.

@songyone the song is actually a poem I can't remember who it was written by but, it's about the French Revolution and the red scarves are what the children wore to symbolize that they were part of the revolution, because all the adults were killed by the government to show that if they rebel they will be killed. And Michael, idk who that guy is probably just an example of what would happen to the kids who fight the government.

@songyone This song is obviously about Jesus. think about the word "hymnal" in the title. where else do you see the word but the bible. michael refers to the angel michael.

An error occured.

I can't quite figure out what this song means, and it's been bothering me. From what I gather it's somehow about the death of innocence or at least death of some kind.

"The pack" sound like children from the fact that they were "swallowed in their coats" and "little heads", although "swallowed" sounds quite sinister, as if their clothes were eating them, as does "tied round their throats". This makes me think of a noose more than a scarf. The noose idea is supported by the fact that if it weren't for these, their heads would fall in the snow. Although I guess then the scarves could be somehow keeping them alive.

I'm not sure what the next couple of lines refer to, but the image of Michael falling then turning "white snow red" says to me he's bleeding on the ground. What surprises me there is the image of "strawberries in the summertime", which casts a positive image onto Michael's bleeding.

Any thoughts on this?

Fleet foxes don't really use symbolism liberally like that. The song is supposed to evoke images, not deep meaning.

Whether they intended to evoke images or use symbolism, I got the same interpretation as Anarise,

I think "swallowed" is less sinister, and more chosen to mirror the preceding "following". same with "throats" and "coats" the resulting sound is the opposite of loss of innocence (for it is entirely pleasing to the ear) but rather a playful and vivid winter scene.

An error occured.

Great speculations! Unfortunately, this beautiful song actually has a rather sad connotation. Here is what I believe the real meaning of the song is.

During the French Revolution, mobs of revolutionists beheaded those (such as royalty -- I'm sure you've heard of Marie Antoinette) who were against the revolution. Revolutionists would gather around the guillotines in "packs" to watch the beheadings. The fashion then was to wear high-collared coats, which may have appeared to "swallow" the individual. Also, I found a painting depicting a beheading scene in the French Revolution. The revolutionists in the illustration wore red scarves around their necks, perhaps to symbolize their loyalty to the revolution. Perhaps "Michael" didn't wear a red scarf or did not support the revolution, and thus he was quickly beheaded at the guillotine.

"I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats" -- someone was following the revolutionists on their way to the guillotine to behead those who opposed the movement. Perhaps this person was for the revolution and was a friend of Michael, or he too was on his way to the guillotine.

"With scarves of red tied 'round their throats" -- the revolutionists wore red scarves to symbolize their loyalty.

"To keep their little heads from falling in the snow" -- in order to keep from being beheaded, they wore the red scarves to show others that they were for the revolution.

"And I turned 'round and there you'd go, and Michael you would fall, and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime." -- Michael did not wear a scarf or did not support the revolution, and thus he was quickly beheaded.

Hope this helps :)

Song Meaning

@ArtifexReel No, not at all. They said the song was quite meaningless. the only "meaning" in there was a little story from his childhood, involving him just following a group of people and his friend Michael. Just some silly lyrics.

@ArtifexReel according to our choir instructor, it has a simpler meaning-- that Michael knocks off the heads of snowmen, and that he falls and bleeds. Or something similar...? Something about snowmen. I can't remember it was two years ago haha

@ArtifexReel Brilliant! Bravo!! So perfectly advanced as to be inarguable! ♫

An error occured.

It reminds me of the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's apostapocalypse story of a father and son trying to survive and stay clear of the men who march around wearing little red scarves around their necks - trying to find survivors whom they can eat.

The father coughs up blood throughout the book and the child is wrapped in any scraps of clothing they can find - sometimes drowing himself out in layers.

The only colour the boy can really see is the red of his dad's blood as everything else is covered in grey ash from the blazing earth, and the white of the snow as ifalls. However, the boy was born after the apocalypse so doesn't know what summertimer or even strawberries are.

Can be very poetic if you let it be.

Wow, sleepersesque that is an amazing analogy. I've read that book too. God so sad. But I agree. The red is such a vivid and important color in that novel and in this song as well.

As a side note, I love McCarthy's use of archaic words. I love those! Haha

Awesome.

I just wanted to say that the band does speak about the south east. And back in the day the word "RED NECK" was a slang for workers who wore red scarves around thier neck in protest for miners treatment. "Red Necks and Red Bandanas: Appalachian Coal Miners and the Coloring of Union Identity, 1912-1936"

An error occured.

pecknold says in an interview with daytrotter that the lyrics to this song are "fairly meaningless", and that the song is more focused on the vocal harmonies instead of the lyrics...but this is so far my favorite song from a stellar album. i've listened to it twice a day since i bought it

daytrotter.com/article/1245/fleet-foxes

in my opinion i believe that there are no such thing as meaningless lyrics. I'm pretty sure it's about a war, most likely british.

im with you ^^^^ cause the hymnal is when people would cut other peoples heads off and thats what the song is talking about

@sun_giant It has metaphor and images from the French Revolution, beheading of the aristocracy at the neck in winter, and such....

An error occured.

I'm pretty sure there is no real mean. It sounds like this song was down with a fancy bit of automatic writing. Very Beautiful

An error occured.

I thought it was "swaddled."

@valrus i think that is the official lyric, yes.

An error occured.

Oh man, the way it builds up.. wonderful

An error occured.

In a war, winter. A resistance group who wore red scarves. Men were forced to join or were killed (in that way the scarves kept their heads from "falling in the snow"). The forced recruitment included fairly young men, hence allusions to youth. The narrator's friend gets shot. Don't know about the "swallowed in their coats" bit.

An error occured.

It's a simple fairy tale. The pack are children bundled up in clothes and who have scarves that keep their heads tied to their necks, like a knot. Think of that one Edgar Allan Poe story of the girl in the French revolution. The singer has to keep watch over them so that they don't lose their heads. He gets distracted and Michael falls, losing his scarf, and his head falls off. It's a fantasy fairy tale. It's that simple.

I like this idea. This is such a dreaming kind of song, and these guys seem to sing about such peculiar, fanciful things... so something as whimsical as loose heads kind of makes sense. And if you put it all down to being a fairy tale, it doesn't seem so macabre anymore.

An error occured.