Hymns

Down To The Ground :: Hymn

By Peter Gabriel
Verse 1

Did you think that your feet had been bound
By what gravity brings to the ground?
Did you feel you were tricked
By the future you picked?
Well, come on down

All these rules don't apply
When you're high in the sky
So come on down
Come on down

Verse 2

Did you think you'd escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it
You're always afraid of the change

You've got a lot on your chest
Well, you can come as my guest
So come on down
Come on down

Chorus

We're coming down to the ground
There's no better place to go
We've got snow up on the mountains
We've got rivers down below

We're coming down to the ground
To hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

Bridge

Like the fish in the ocean
We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live off the good land
We learned to climb up a tree

Then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
Oh, when we messed up our homeland
And set sail for the sky

Outro

We're coming down
Comin' down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin' down to earth
Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities
To find on earth

Thoughts

This song fulfills everything a Terranic hymn should. It celebrates the immanent experience of being a citizen of planet earth; a part of the land. But also, incredibly, it gently redirects us from transcendent spirituality, encouraging the listener to “come on down” to the immanent spirituality being a part of Terra. It tells us to “redefine our priorities” and look to what is present, here, and worth nurturing.

The lines “tricked / by the future you picked” I believe describes the feeling of arriving at utopia only to discover that you are still you, and your life continues. To arrive in the future is to remain in the present. We transcend our physical world through technology, reaching for a future where our desires are all met, but the health of the earth shows that satisfying our needs is a different task from feeding our desires. To escape this world, to transcend it, is to leave a pile of rubble in our wake. And of course, those who manage transcend are few, and those who lie in the rubble are many. May we not be tricked into believing in desires only a few will consume. Instead, lets look at our needs and one another, and work the good land.

The fact that this song bookends the Pixar movie Wall-E is no accident. The lines “But we wanted to fly / Oh, when we messed up our homeland / and set sail for the sky” describe not only the events depicted in the movie, but also the spiritual search for planetary escape. The song encourages us to return, embrace our destroyed homeworld, and rebuild our relationship with the planet that birthed us. As is shown in the movie, it is only when we learn to love that we can build a healthy relationship with our world.

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