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.


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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.