Here’s a theory: You Were Never Alone by Emery is a concept album, retelling Bible stories.
Actually, it’s not a theory, but confirmed fact.
I always knew there was something special about this album. I mean, besides the fact that Devin Shelton’s angelic voice is on it.
You Were Never Alone is Emery’s latest release, and it’s a concept album: every song is a first person retelling of a Bible story.
Read on for Part 2 of this series.
Last week, we talked about “rock, pebble, stone”, “thrash”, “hard times”, and “the beginning”.
This week, we’ll tackle three more songs and get a little bit more in depth.
We hid hope in our sleeves/And all the world knew we believed
I think this my favorite song on the album.
The less you say is actually my favorite song on this album. It’s a very “Emery” song, if that makes any sense. It’s got the traded vocals, the sweeping choruses, that kinda stuff. When we saw Emery in concert in November 2015, this was the only song they played from their new album and it was awesome.
Peter is the main character in this song, giving us a closer look at how he might have felt when he was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The song is set before Jesus is captured, and it follows Peter as he tries to convince Jesus to stop saying he’s going to die. He does this in Matthew 16, and Jesus has some harsh words for him then, although Jesus doesn’t speak in this song.
Peter’s not too happy about all of this. He’s devoted the last three years of his life to Jesus and his mission, and now Jesus is saying that it’s all going to end. Of course, Peter’s not listening to the whole “rise again after three days” part, but can you blame him? He can only think about the years that he’s spent, the time that he’s slept alone apart from his family, and the fact that this whole thing has become his life.
He pleads with Jesus: “Just give me a chance to change your mind.” We’re dropped right into the middle of Peter’s thoughts as he admits that all of this talk of dying makes him scared. He lets Jesus know how much this whole business is going to hurt him: “Your peace will cut pieces right out from me.”
In this song, Peter doesn’t understand what’s going on; he wants things that he just can’t have. And it’s kind of interesting to see Peter this way. You just want to pull him over and tell him that this is actually all going to pass and it’s going to be better than before. But the only thing he can think of is the moment and how everything he’s lived for is about to come crashing down with the death of one man.
And the last thing you want is for your last words to sound so scared
This song takes is about Moses and deals with a whole lot, but focuses on how he might have felt as he was leading the Israelite out of Egypt.
It starts with Moses pleading with Ramses, telling him that the plagues will keep coming until he lets his people go: “Take it while you get it, toss this and forget it/As you swallow your seat and son/You’re plagued with pride of fathers/Long since dead behind you”.
And then it talks about how in Moses tried to run away from everything when he escaped into the wilderness, but God found him there anyway: “I begged for less/But I second guessed/That you would come/After me”.
The rest of the song is focused on the moment before Moses parts the Red Sea: “Standing where the water meets the shore you feel the sun/Touch your face and leave its mark with nowhere left to run”.
In the song, Moses has a moment of fear as he wonders if this is actually going to happen. Doubt isn’t something that Moses is unfamiliar with, and it’s interesting to see him here, wondering what he’s going to say to his people if the waters don’t part and they are captured by the Egyptians.
However, I believe that the song ends with Moses resolving to believe in God’s promise, regardless. He says that “I never thought that I should question why”. Instead of questioning God, he just jumped into this, headfirst. He gave his life completely to God, and God used him to do something great. The Bible never tries to paint him as perfect, though, and it’s interesting how this song points out his imperfections.
This is where the world ends and we leave our friends behind
This song had always confused me. I just didn’t understand what it was talking about, but, to be honest, I never really tried.
However, when I learned that it was about Noah and Abraham, things started to make sense.
Verse 1 takes place on the day the Flood begins. Noah is awakened by his wife as the rain starts. It’s interesting because he describes the rain as “the sky falling in stones of water”. Whether it had rained before the flood or not, that’s still a really cool way to describe raindrops.
But the most important line here is the first: “This is where the world ends and we leave our friends behind.” Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood. That means that anyone else that he knew, whether he warned them or not, were not going to be on the boat with him. How hard would that have been?
Verse 2 puts us in the point of view of Abraham as he contemplates God’s promise to make him into a great nation. He wonders how he could have kids if “nothing from her could ever grow my name”. Sarah is barren and is getting older and older. He decides that “I’ll find my own promises to keep” and engages in Sarah’s plot to give him a son through Hagar.
The chorus uses water and drowning imagery to describe the lives of so many people, including Abraham: “We were filling pools with ourselves and ambition/And here we are drowning out from our lives”.
Abraham did some pretty bad stuff, and he had to deal with the consequences of that. But he wasn’t the only one to fill pools of himself. Everyone who died in the Flood had done this as well. Noah was the only righteous person God could find at that time, as everyone else just did whatever was right in his own eyes.
The song seems to talk about the cyclical nature of sin and how, despite the fact that everyone was destroyed and the world started over, sin wasn’t gone and continued its infection of the human race.
This song is not without hope, however. The first part of the chorus talks about the writing of Scripture: “We were always sure that the pages would be written/Not from our hands but the words you left inside of us”.
God had a plan from the beginning and he knew what he was doing. He knew that Jesus was going to be the one to redeem us from sin. He wasn’t surprised by any of this. He communicated this to his people through prophecies, which were written down by the prophets. It’s kinda sad, though, that when he eventually did come, most of them didn’t believe him. There are so many good songs on this album, but for the sake of brevity, I have to split up these articles. Click here for Part 1 and Look for more next week!
Have you listened to this album? What do you think of the Biblical connections in each song?
Let’s talk about it in the comments.
All these cool pictures are from YouVersion’s Bible App for Kids. I’ve used the App before and it’s really cool!
I listened to the podcast on SoundCloud, so just click this link to get there. It’s been around for a while now, so I’m not so sure how I missed it all this time. Oh, and in case you want to hear these songs, just do a quick search on YouTube or Spotify. They’ll be on there!