Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” Lyrics Meaning

Hozier’s international mega hit “Take Me to Church” is a track that blew up more based on its symbolism than its sound. To put it in a different way, there is simply a lot of very deep meanings and interpretations behind this song.

First off it is using his lover as a metaphor for a religion, and his commitment to their relationship is represented by the devotion a faithful practitioner of this religion would display. Indeed Hozier wrote this song as he was recuperating from a breakup.

Moreover the reason he chose a religious theme is because he grew up in Ireland where the Catholic Church is very influential. And being a person who isn’t a big fan of the Church, he used this track as a medium to explain some of the ways he feels about that particular institution, as it is not meant to be an attack on faith in general.

During the music video, viewers can interpret that the one clear criticism Hozier has against the Church is their anti-gay stance.  In fact he has said on-record that he does not agree with the idea of ‘undermining humanity’ through oppression due to a person’s sexual orientation, as in his opinion, such preferences are natural. That is one of the reasons why there are many correlations between sensuality and religion found in “Take Me to Church”.

Another reason is that this is indeed a love song, specifically the love of intimacy with his partner. Hozier sees intimacy as a way by which individuals can assert and express themselves as human beings. So ultimately, Hozier’s clever use of popular religious-based symbols and ideas are not only intended to let his lover know how strongly he feels about him/her but also how much he appreciates their intimate life despite moral-based opposition. And ultimately the use of such widely-recognizable, controversial imagery is also what gives “Take Me to Church” its strong mass appeal.

Lyrics of Hozier's "Take Me to Church"

The following are what each of the lines in the song’s chorus above means:

Take me to church”

 Hozier defines the word “church” to include all institutions which according to him “undermine humanity”. Or in other words restrict natural human behavior, which in the context of this song would be the suppression of intimate desires or perhaps more specifically sexual orientation.

 “I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

 A number of different theories have been put forth as to the meaning of this line. However, within the context of the song, it most likely alludes to Hozier’s religious-like devotion to his lover.

I’ll tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knives

During this line, Hozier seemingly jumps off the topic of his lover and back specifically to the church, where people traditionally go to confess their sins. If nothing else, it is to insinuate that the person(s) he is admitting his shortcomings to is dangerous, as in having the intent to somehow harm him or others.  But again he can be referring to a malicious, insensitive, non-reciprocating lover just as much as an actual judgmental institution.

“Offer me the deathless death

This is most likely an allusion to Hozier’s understanding of falling in love. In other words, he compares love to dying as in an older version of yourself passes away. This older version is then replaced by the perception your lover has of you. However, such a phrase as “deathless death” also has a strong religious history as it can refer to the level of self-sacrifice the Apostle Paul and other of such religious leaders advocated in the name of spiritual salvation. It can also refer to the concept of eternal life, as in life after death.

Good God, let me give you my life

Again we have a phrase with a strong spiritual connotation yet which Hozier is likely using as an allegory for his romantic feelings. To put differently, ideologically religious devotees are expected to be willing, if not required, to give their lives to the Supreme Being. However, the way Hozier uses the term “Good God” seems more like a powerful exclamation to strengthen his expression of a desire to give his all to the person he loves.

NOTE: Working on this song was pretty challenging for us since it is a classic example of an artist saying a song means one thing and then once it blows up adding additional, convoluted meanings to it. For instance, Hozier initially said he wrote this song about his ex-girlfriend but then later tried to relate it to homosexuality or something. So in working on its meaning, we tried to take the three different explanations he put forth and put them into one comprehensive explanation.

Music video for “Take Me to Church”

The iconic music video for “Take Me to Church” was directed by American musician and film maker Brendan Canty along with Irish photographer.  The video tells the tale of two men in a romantic relationship in a small Russian town. However, upon learning the men are gay, they are subjected to extremely violent homophobic attacks by certain members of the community who strongly oppose all things LGBT.

The video was deliberately made to speak out against Russia’s brutal policies opposing the LGBT community.

Facts about “Take Me to Church”

  • Both the music and lyrics of “Take Me to Church” were entirely written by Hozier himself. However, the production, on the other hand, was handled by a producer named Rob Kirwan.
  • “Take Me to Church” was released and made available for digital download on September 13, 2013.
  • Hozier wrote this song shortly after his relationship with his girlfriend collapsed. The song was therefore inspired by the demise of that relationship.
  • When Hozier wrote this song, he was still struggling to gain fame as a musician. He wrote the song at his parents’ home. According to him, he recorded the vocals for the song’s demo at 2 AM in his attic.
  • Despite being one of the most successful music videos of 2013, the official clip for this song was made with a budget of just about 560 dollars.
  • “Take Me to Church” holds the distinction of being Spotify’s most-streamed song for the year 2014. It was streamed 87 million times in 2014.

Which album does “Take Me to Church” appear on?

This track appears on Hozier’s debut studio album entitled Take Me to Church. It was the lead single and the most commercially successful song from that album.

Did “Take Me to Church” win a Grammy Award?

The song earned itself a Song of the Year Grammy nomination at 2015’s Grammy Awards. It however, lost the award to Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”.

How did “Take Me to Church” perform on the charts?

It was a massively great global chart success for Hozier. It peaked at number 1 in more than a dozen countries, including Belgium, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it made it all the way to number 2. It peaked at that same position on the UK Singles Chart. To date, this Hozier’s most successful single.

Which famous artists have covered this song?

Over the years, many popular singers have released their own renditions of this hit song. Ellie Goulding and Morgan James are examples of artists who have covered this song. American singer Demi Lovato also performed this song live during her 2015 appearance at the BBC’ Live Lounge.

Demi Lovato’s live performance of “Take Me to Church” at the Live Lounge in 2015.

10 Responses

  1. kania provencal says:

    will you pls change sam smith’a pronouns to they/them instead of he/him. they have come out a while ago and i only think it’s right to respect them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think that the song is about his and his ex girlfriend’s unhealthy relationship, but later he realized that it could be interpreted as a song about homosexuality. Both versions make sense, but each one gives the lines different meanings. In the version about his ex every line is about her, but in the gay version the person is alternating between talking about their lover and the church that they are forced to go to.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you’re spot on. Originally about his possibly somewhat toxic relationship with a girlfriend, the meaning was changed in order to ride the gay wave to popularity.

  3. just curious says:

    I interpreted deathless death as organism. When the body spirit mind are on equal terms. You are alone, you are conjoined with the other, at the same time. Then explode.
    Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa puts me in mind of this moment, an exquisite deathless death. She wrote of it later. I wondered if she ever wanted to revisit the moment.

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