Jaryd

For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti

In Faith, Music, Readings, Video on September 17, 2008 at 1:43 am

I have been going on a Sufjan Stevens (pronounced soofyawn) binge as of late. And in case you haven’t heard, he has surpassed the Beatles as my favorite artist/group. I still love you Beatles, but Sufjan is just… he is just Sufjan: a lyrical genius capable of putting me in touch with the most distant of perspectives. I love how all of his songs are from different narrators; I don’t think any one of his songs has Sufjan as the narrator. All of his songs are so perfectly personal and emotional.

I recently heard ‘For the Widows In Paradise, for the Fatherless In Ypsilanti’ for the first time, and it has really stuck with me. I thought some of you might appreciate the lyrics, as well as some analysis from yours truly.

For the Widows In Paradise, for the Fatherless In Ypsilanti

by Sufjan Stevens

I have called you children, I have called you son

What is there to answer if I’m the only one?

Morning comes in paradise, morning comes in light

Still I must obey, still I must invite

If there’s anything to say, if there’s anything to do

If there’s any other way, I’ll do anything for you

I was dressed embarrassment I was dressed in whine

If you had a part of me, will you take your time?

Even if I come back, even if I die

Is there some idea to replace my life?

Like a father to impress, like a mother’s morning dress

If you ever make a mess, I’ll do anything for you

I have called you preacher, I have called you son

If you have a father or if you haven’t one

I’ll do anything for you, I’ll do anything for you

I’ll do anything for you, I’ll do anything for you

I did everything for you, I did everything for you

I did everything for you, I did everything for you

I did everything for you, I did everything for you

First off: who is the narrator? The answers I have seen pegs the narrator as Jesus, but there is more than that. The alternating of “I’ll do anything for you” and “I did everything for you” points to two separate narrators. The song begins with Jesus speaking to mankind, and then His followers answering. Christ did do everything for us, and we claim that we will do anything for Him. But will we?

Notice these lyrics:

If there’s anything to say, if there’s anything to do

If there’s any other way, I’ll do anything for you

We talk about doing anything for Christ, sacrificing everything that we have, but there is still something we won’t give up. “If there’s any other way;” we still can’t give everything for Christ like He gave everything for us.

I love how Sufjan really emphasizes Christ’s human nature: “If you had a part of me, will you take your time?” Sufjan makes Jesus much more personal:

I have called you children, I have called you son

…I have called you preacher, I have called you son

If you have a father or if you haven’t one

Christ wants to be our Father. The Father to the fatherless. Christ wants us to love Him, too; wants us to follow Him and be with God. It wasn’t that Christ sacrificed Himself and the world was saved; no, Christ is worried for our individual souls. And then Sufjan hits home with something Jesus might have struggled with: doubt. In the same vein as Jesus calling out on the cross “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus asks:

Even if I come back, even if I die

Is there some idea to replace my life?

Christ knew that when He was resurrected, He would still be rejected by man, and as Sufjan states previously, Jesus wants us to accept Him, therefore He is hurt by rejection. And to add even more to the human-nature of Jesus, He wonders if “there is some idea to replace [His] life?” What is His life worth to us? Is an ideal worth Christ’s life? Is the rejection of mankind worth His life? What is He sacrificing His life for; going through torture for, bearing our sin for? What do we give Him in return for His flagellation? For the spear in His side? For His victory over death?

Can we give Him enough? Can we ever repay Him? Of course not! We know this, but what is even more powerful is that Christ knew it. Christ knew it from the very beginning of time, yet He still chose to die. That is the everything that Jesus has done for us.

Instead of praying “I’ll do anything for you,” let’s pray “I’m doing everything for you.”

If you would like to hear the song, here is a youtube clip of Sufjan singing it.

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  1. His songs are very deep and he has a way of looking at things in a different way. That is a good way to really undestand an issue.

    Dad

  2. […] song is spoken from the point of view of Christ, speaking to us (just as in For The Widows In Paradise, For the Fatherless In Ypsilanti). Sufjan begins the song with the phrase “I always knew you.” The Bible makes it clear […]

  3. Thank you for posting this beautiful video. I too recently fell in love with the amazing work of Sufjan. I played this song for a friend today and she said, “He sounds like you!”

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