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"U2 were in that position where we were really big and no matter what we did, it was wrong." — Larry, on PopMart

U2 Bible References: Songs Of Experience


Songs Of Experience (2017)

Planned as a follow-up to Songs of Innocence, the band’s fourteenth album followed The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 and was delayed so that U2 could incorporate commentary on the rapidly changing political culture in America and Europe. It also provided an avenue for Bono to reflect on a near death experience.

Each song may show up in one, two or three of the following categories:

Direct Quotes: lyrics that are clearly taken from specific verses in the Bible

Indirect References: lyrics that are likely referencing the Bible but without quoting specific verses

Possible Influences: lyrics that hint at biblical themes and influences, but have no overt connection

 


 

"Lights Of Home"

 

U2 lyric

Free yourself to be yourself / If only you could see yourself

 

Possible influence 

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Get Out Of Your Own Way"

 

U2 lyric

The promised land is there for those who need it most

 

Indirect reference 

Hebrews 11:9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country. (NIV)

 

The “promised land” is a concept used in the Hebrew Bible to denote the land promised to Abraham. It has also become a metaphoric way to talk about America.

 

 

U2 lyric

Blessed are the…

In the “Blessed are the” lyrics of “Get Out Of Your Own Way” and “American Soul,” U2 is teasing the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5), calling special attention to them by providing cynical contemporary versions.

 

Indirect reference 

Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

    for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NIV)

 

  


 

"American Soul"

 

U2 lyric

Blessed are the…

 

Indirect reference 

See note on “Get Out Of Your Own Way”

 

 

U2 lyric

Hold on, brother John / Too many mothers weeping

 

Possible influence 

In John 19:25-27, Jesus, while hanging on the cross, asked the disciple John to care for his mother, Mary:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (NIV)

 

  


 

"13 (There Is A Light)"

 

It is possible that this song is inspired by Psalm 13, which talks about despair and hope in similar ways.

Psalm 13:3 Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

And if the terrors of the night

 

Possible influence 

Song of Solomon 3:8 Each man has his sword at his side, guarding against the terrors of the night. (NASB)

 

 

U2 lyric

And know that darkness / Always gathers around the light

 

Indirect reference 

Psalm 139:11 Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me. (NIV)

Micah 7:8 Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

If there is a light… If there is a dark

 

Possible influence 

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)

John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NIV)

The Gospel of John often uses the themes of light versus dark. See John 1:1-15, and John 9, especially 9:5 and 9:35-41.