Exploring the Symbolism in Mary on a Cross Lyrics


Analyzing song lyrics can offer a unique insight into the artist’s thoughts and emotions that might not be immediately apparent. One such song that captivates listeners with its deep and poignant lyrics is “Mary on a Cross” by Swedish band, Ghost. This haunting track delves into themes of religion, sacrifice, and existentialism, drawing listeners into a world of dark symbolism and intricate storytelling. In this article, we will explore the symbolism present in “Mary on a Cross” lyrics, uncovering the layers of meaning behind the words and unraveling the mystique that surrounds the song.

Religious Symbolism

At first glance, the title itself, “Mary on a Cross,” evokes strong religious imagery, merging the figures of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with the crucifixion of Christ. This fusion sets the tone for the religious symbolism that permeates the song. The lyrics paint a picture of a woman who is burdened with suffering and sacrifice, much like the biblical Mary who witnessed her son’s crucifixion. Through this lens, the song can be interpreted as an exploration of the weight of martyrdom and the complexities of faith.

Sacrifice and Redemption

Central to the symbolism in “Mary on a Cross” is the theme of sacrifice and redemption. The lyrics speak of a woman who is “nailed to the mast of a ship that’s soon to be lost,” highlighting the idea of being bound to a fate beyond one’s control. This imagery of being tethered to a sinking ship suggests a sense of impending doom and inevitability, mirroring the sacrificial act of Jesus on the cross for the salvation of humanity.

The repeated refrain of “Mary on a cross, Mary on a cross, above us” underscores the omnipresence of this sacrificial figure, watching over and perhaps guiding the listener through their own trials and tribulations. The mention of “cancer” in the lyrics further reinforces the theme of suffering and the idea of finding redemption through enduring pain.

Existential Angst

Beyond its religious connotations, “Mary on a Cross” delves into existential themes, grappling with the futility of existence and the search for meaning in a chaotic world. The line “sparse is the joy that endured beside us” speaks to the fleeting nature of happiness and the constant presence of suffering. The image of “skeletons dance, they are laughing at us” conjures a sense of nihilism and the absurdity of life’s struggles.

In this context, Mary becomes a symbolic figure of hope amidst despair, a beacon of light in the darkness of uncertainty. The juxtaposition of her grace and suffering serves as a reminder of the complexities of the human experience and the resilience needed to navigate the challenges that life presents.


“Mary on a Cross” by Ghost is a lyrical masterpiece that weaves together religious symbolism, themes of sacrifice and redemption, and existential angst to create a haunting and thought-provoking narrative. Through its evocative imagery and poetic language, the song prompts listeners to reflect on the nature of faith, suffering, and the pursuit of meaning in a world filled with uncertainty. By peeling back the layers of symbolism present in the lyrics, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the song’s profound message and the emotions it elicits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. **What inspired the lyrics of “Mary on a Cross”?
    The lyrics of “Mary on a Cross” draw inspiration from themes of religion, sacrifice, and existentialism, exploring the complexities of faith and the human experience.

  2. **What is the significance of the title “Mary on a Cross”?
    The title merges religious imagery of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with the crucifixion of Christ, symbolizing themes of sacrifice and redemption.

  3. **How does “Mary on a Cross” explore existential themes?
    The song delves into existential angst, reflecting on the futility of existence and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

  4. **What role does symbolism play in the song’s lyrics?
    Symbolism in “Mary on a Cross” enriches the narrative, offering deeper layers of meaning and encouraging listeners to reflect on the themes presented.

  5. **Is there a specific message that the band Ghost intended to convey through the song?
    While interpretations may vary, the song appears to evoke contemplation on suffering, faith, and the human condition, inviting listeners to engage with its profound themes.

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