Vito’s Ordination Song by Sufjan Stevens

In Faith, Music, Readings, Video on September 28, 2008 at 12:41 am

I’ve discovered yet another beautiful Sufjan song. I had heard this before, but hadn’t paid great attention to the lyrics until today; it instantly became one of my favorites once I figured out what it means (or at least what I think it means). Here’s the backstory: Sufjan’s close friend Vito was being ordained as a Presbyterian minister and Sufjan offered to write this for him. There’s a Youtube video of it at the bottom if you would like to listen as you read the lyrics. Now for the lyrics with some analysis.


Vito’s Ordination Song

Sufjan Stevens

I always knew you1
In your mothers arms
I have called your name 2
I have an idea
Placed in your mind
To be a better man
I’ve made a crown for you 3
Put it in your room
And when the bridegroom comes
There will be noise
There will be glad
And a perfect bed
And when you write a poem
I know the words
I know the sounds
Before you write it down
When you wear your clothes
I wear them too
I wear your shoes
And the jacket too
I always knew you
In your mothers arms
I have called you son 4
I’ve made amends
Between Father and son
Or, if you haven’t one
Rest in my arms
Sleep in my bed
There is a design
To what I did and said


This 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 that God knows us personally from conception, as well as our names: “I have called your name.” Then, the song moves on to discussing our rewards in Heaven; our crowns that we will receive. 2 Timothy 4:81 Corinthians 9:25Revelation 2:101 Thessalonians 2:191 Peter 5:4 all talk about the crowns Christ will give us, depending on our accomplishments and faithfulness on earth.

“And when the bridegroom comes” represents Christ’s return to earth and the rapture. This is when all of the believers will rejoice: “There will be noise / There will be glad.” The “perfect bed,” I assume, is meaning the “bed” is our place in Heaven, our own personal space (how literal this is, I don’t know). The next few lines emphasis God’s intimate and deep knowledge of us: “And when you write a poem / I know the words / I know the sounds/ Before you write it down.”

The next section brings up the human aspect of Jesus; his 100% corporeal form. “When you wear your clothes / I wear them too / I wear your shoes / And the jacket too” means that Jesus came in human form and experienced the same things that we do: wearing clothes, wearing shoes, and bundling up to keep away the cold. Whatever we experience, Jesus can empathize with us in a meaningful and complete way.

“I have called you son / I’ve made amends between Father and son” is perhaps the most important line in the whole song. It is referring to Christ’s bridging of the gap between mankind (son) and God (the Father). Christ’s blood has reconciled us to God, now that Jesus took our sins upon Himself. This is followed up with a grouping of lyrics that are beautiful in their simplicity: “Or, if you haven’t one [a father] / Rest in my arms / Sleep in my bed / There is a design / To what I did and said.” This section simply means that we can always rely on Christ, even when we haven’t a father. We can take refuge in His strength and rest in His presence. Then, we are reassured that everything that happens, no matter how terrible or mysterious, has a reason. We can always have faith that everything works towards God’s perfect plan, and that in the end everything will be perfect.

Think I have it wrong? Let me know! I love to hear from readers.


1 Psalms 139:13: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

2 John 10:3: “The watchman opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”

3 2 Timothy 4:81 Corinthians 9:25Revelation 2:101 Thessalonians 2:191 Peter 5:4

4 1 John 3:1: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

  1. I think that your analysis is right on. I’m also glad to see you using the Bible to make your points. Good Job.


  2. He sure can write beautifully. How did you find out about him?
    Love you, Mom

  3. Mom, my friend Renelle told me about him about two years ago. I really liked him back then, but this summer I started listening a little more closely to his songs and they have had a real impact on my life.

    I feel like God speaks to me through his music.

  4. great post (though I’m a few years behind in reading it)! Today was the first day I really listened to the lyrics of this lovely piece… I’m glad I found this. I like this song even more now.

  5. This is a beautiful analysis and I have come back to your post multiple times over the past two weeks. And listened to the song many times and heard it in a deeply meaningful way. Thank you!

  6. Very nice an analysis..God bless you!

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