Prince – “The Cross” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Prince’s “The Cross” is a poignant exploration of life’s hardships and the promise of redemption. It draws upon images of societal issues like ghettos and hunger and contrasts them with symbols of hope, such as flowers and bread. The central motif, the cross, represents the belief in salvation and the idea that suffering can lead to redemption. It’s not just about religious faith but about enduring through difficult times with the hope of a brighter future.

Feeling intrigued? Stick around to dive deeper into the nuances of this song.

“The Cross” Lyrics Meaning

The opening lines, “Black day, stormy night / No love, no hope in sight,” instantly set a somber mood. Prince paints a picture of a world filled with despair. But even in this darkness, there’s a glimmer of hope: “Don’t cry, he is coming.” The “he” is often seen as a reference to Jesus Christ, a savior who promises salvation through the “cross.”

The juxtaposition of “Ghettos 2 the left of us / Flowers 2 the right” highlights the duality of life, contrasting the hardships and beauty that coexist. The ghettos symbolize the harsh realities many face, while the flowers represent the fleeting beauty and moments of happiness. The promise of “bread 4 all of us” is a nod towards the idea of sustenance and hope. Bread, a staple in many cultures, symbolizes life and sustenance. Furthermore, the repeated use of numbers (like “2” and “4”) in the lyrics is a creative touch, perhaps emphasizing the directness and urgency of the song’s message.

The “Sweet song of salvation” sung by a starving mother stands out. Even amidst the direst circumstances, she holds onto hope, teaching her children the value of faith. Through her, Prince conveys the universal human capacity for hope.

The refrain, “We all have our problems / Some BIG, some are small,” is a humbling reminder that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, faces challenges. But Prince reassures listeners that, “Soon all of our problems / Will be taken by the cross.” This speaks to the transformative power of faith and the belief that no matter the challenge, there’s a force out there that can alleviate suffering.

The song concludes with echoing its opening lines, underscoring the cyclical nature of pain and redemption. Yet, the persistent message is clear: no matter how immense our problems seem, they can be overcome with faith in the “cross.”

The Story Behind “The Cross”

Prince, a trailblazer known for his seamless fusion of genres, had a penchant for threading spiritual and religious themes throughout his music. When penning “The Cross,” he found himself in the midst of a profound spiritual awakening. As someone raised in the Seventh-day Adventist faith, his later transition to becoming a Jehovah’s Witness was indicative of his ever-evolving personal spiritual journey.

This particular period of Prince’s life saw him not only grappling with his own fame but also deeply reflecting on the stark disparities and challenges in the world around him. This song, in many ways, embodies his ruminations on these societal issues, juxtaposing them against the backdrop of personal faith and inner resilience. What’s truly fascinating is how Prince’s keen observations extended beyond just his immediate surroundings. He was deeply attuned to global issues, like poverty and societal injustices, which heavily influenced his musical creations.

“The Cross” captures this intricate weave of individual spiritual quest and broader societal commentary, establishing it as an exceptional piece in his diverse musical repertoire. Moreover, while the song may be rooted in the context of its time, its evocative message has an enduring quality, showcasing Prince’s unparalleled talent for creating narratives that touch souls across different eras and backgrounds. Prince immortalized his commitment to exploring personal salvation and societal redemption through songs like this.