Who’s Next to Me?

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I was annoyed when I found out that some people think Emeli Sande’s song “Next To Me” was about God (or more specifically Jesus) and not about an awesome male partner.  Partly because I loved the catchy tune when I first heard it, and because it made me think of my awesome husband.  Maybe too because we need more pop songs celebrating good long-lasting love … (though, I do love it when Carrie carves her name into his leather seats …)  But also because of the assumption that God has to be referred to as “Him.”  That if there’s a “him” being honored, it has to be God.  That if you’re going to speak about God, you’re going to use male exclusive language.

Maybe the lyrics are a personality test, where a person’s interpretation of the lyrics tells you more about the listener than about the artist.  The fact that when I heard and loved the song I did not think about a deity, rather I thought about my husband, tells you something about me (and maybe something about him).

In this brief video explanation, Sande says that it’s a “simple lyric” about “loyalty, about love, that unconditional love that will be there for you whenever you need it…”

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I still love the tune, the lyrics, and am sharing it today because this weekend my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary, and this summer is the 20th anniversary of our first date.

After two decades, you CAN still find him next to me.


About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and also teaches Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.