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Advent Day 15: "Keeping Your Head Up"

Times that I've seen you lose your way You're not in control and you won't be told All I can do to keep you safe is hold you close Hold you close till you can breathe on your own…

Don't you know your pain is mine? And I would die a thousand times to ease your mind To ease your mind

Hold tight, you're slowly coming back to life

I'll be keeping your head up I'll be keeping your head up, darling Let go of all your haunted dreams tonight…

And when you come looking for embrace I know your soul, I'll be your home

Keeping Your Head Up, Birdy


‘Keeping Your Head Up’ was released as the lead single of Birdy’s album ‘Beautiful Lies’ in 2016, marking a slight change in direction for the young musician as she moved towards a more pop-friendly sound, and whilst I still love her acoustic tracks, I wasn’t disappointed by this indie-cum-pop anthem. She manages to retain the lyrical quality of her previous music, with the addition of some epic synths, catchy riffs and a steady, uplifting rhythm.

Many of Birdy’s lyrics have a spiritual feel to them, complementing her hauntingly angelic voice. The music video for this song certainly plays with an otherworldly aesthetic. The white and red carnivalesque costumes of the dancers seem to represent angelic and demonic forces, maybe in battle with each other. The sequence then climaxes with Birdy, clothed in white, ascending in slow-motion, arms raised in a Christ-like posture and a host of the masked angels behind her.

It appears to be an enactment of the inner struggle taking place within the mind of the 2nd person in this narrative (“you’re not in control and you won’t be told”), and Birdy’s ascension casts her as the saviour or perhaps a guardian angel figure, who is the one singing these comforting words over her "darling". It certainly works as a typical romantic love song, but it also functions well as a prodigal son story. I’ve chosen some longer sections of the lyrics today to demonstrate how perfectly they paint a picture of God’s relationship with us.

Read through a biblical lens, the song reminds us of God’s loving pursuit of his children who have lost their way; he is the one who holds us close until we’re ready to “come looking for embrace". I particularly love that line “I know your soul, I’ll be your home.” It is a lovely way of speaking about any intimate relationship, but the words are particularly pertinent when we think about the imagery that is often used to describe the Father’s relationship to us. In the Bible, he is spoken about as a "refuge" and "dwelling place". The metaphor is also reversed in John 14: “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

The Christmas story tells us that God makes his home with mankind in the most literal sense when he comes as the messiah to live amongst us. In doing this, he says to us “your pain is mine” and proves that he really will die for us.

As we “let go” of those things that “haunt us” and allow God to transform our hearts, however far from him we may feel, we can trust that he is lovingly holding us and singing over us…

“Hold tight, you're slowly coming back to life.”


This is part of my LittlePonderings series: "Unseasonal Songs: An Alternative Advent in Song Lyrics". You can find out more here.

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