Another song for Comprehension with links to Growth Mindset

I love using music in class for a number of reasons: remembering facts, teaching narrative structure and improving comprehension.

 Another song that I came across recently is Grace by Rag'n'Bone Man. The message of the song is powerful and lends itself well to PSHCE and growth mindset discussions.

Here is a description of the song I read recently:

You know that feeling when you've just made a wretched mistake and you want the whole world to swallow you up? When you don't want to talk to anyone, you feel like you've let yourself and the people you value down?

It hurts right? But with enough strength, humility and willingness to stand again, you realise that mistake isn't the end of you. More so, that 'mistake' could be the very thing you needed in your life to become a better person. To change or let go of parts of you that aren't empowering or positive. Some people call it grace, when you experience something in your life exactly the way it was meant to be to help you grow. Here's a song by Rag'N'Bone Man, famous for his debut song 'Human', that's all about the journey of grace.

As far as I'm aware there isn't an official video, however, here is a video of the song:

Here are the lyrics with a few questions to consider:

Said I loved you without hesitation
So easy for you to break my foolish heart
Now I wonder if you ever speak my name
Will I always be defined by my mistakes?

  • Is the first line grammatically correct? What is missing? It should read "I said I loved you...
  • Who is the singer speaking to? He is singing to someone he was once in love with, an old girlfriend perhaps.
  • On a scale of 1-5, how much does the singer love this person? How do you know? He loves her a lot or thinks he does as he uses the phrase 'without hesitation'
  • What does the word hesitation mean? to hesitate is to pause before saying something
  • Does the person feel the same as the singer? How do you know? It is unrequited love. She does not feel the same as she broke his heart.
  • Why has the singer chosen the word 'foolish' to describe his heart? It means that, looking back, he knew she didn't like him and he should have realised it. He is recognising it was a mistake
  • Did this happen recently or a long time ago? We know it happened in the past as he starts the third line with the word now. I think it happened a long time ago when the singer was young and naive as he used the word 'foolish'
  • Does the singer regret what he did? How do you know? Yes, he uses the word mistakes and links that experience to it.
  • Does he miss the person? How do you know? He still misses her as he still, years on, thinks about whether she thinks about him.
  • What will the person's memory be of the singer be if she does speak about him? Or it could be he wonders whether she remembers him as a foolish love-struck teen who poured his heart out and remembers him in a negative way because of it.
  • What does the word 'defined' mean? He uses that word as a way of stating what people will remember him by.
  • What does he mean by the last line? He is wondering whether people will remember him and judge him based on the past mistakes he has made. To think like this can have a negative impact on someone and make them worry about trying new things in case they make mistakes again.
  • How did the singer feel after that experience? Can you think of a time when you felt like that? The experience was a negative one that probably made him feel sad and upset. No one likes to have their heart broken especially by someone that you thought you loved.
  • Why are those experiences important? People will always make mistakes, in every walk of life not just in love. The mistakes are not something to hold onto, worry about and stop us trying again. As long as we learn from these mistakes, then we are always moving forward. 
In the arms of the saint, I'm a stranger
We're all trying to find our way
At the death of every darkness, there's a morning
Though we all try
We all try
We're all one step from grace
  • Why would he be a stranger in the arms of a saint? He is saying that he isn't a saint and they wouldn't recognise him or know him.
  • What are saints remembered for? Saints are remembered for doing good deeds and making a difference to people's lives. By saying he is a stranger, he is saying he is very different from this.
  • What are the contractions all short for? I'm = I am. We're = We are
  • Where is everyone trying to find their way to? He is talking about finding our way to fulfillment and happiness in whatever walk of life that may be.
  • What does the singer mean by the third line? He links the darkness to problems or issues or bad experiences people may have in their life. By talking about the death, he is talking about the end. So when we end the problems we have, there is a new start.
  • What examples of problems may he be referring to? The end of relationships, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job etc.
  • Why does he use the symbol of 'morning'? What does this stand for? The morning refers to the start of a new day so it is a symbol of new beginnings. 
  • Why does he repeat the phrase 'we all try'? For anyone listening to the song, he is making them aware that everything goes through these struggles, everyone has problems at some point that they must overcome. He repeats it to emphasise that it happens numerous times, we will always make more than one mistake.
  • What does the singer mean by the word grace? Happiness
  • Why are we all one step from grace? We can all find happiness and it is a lot closer than many of us think.
I made myself believe
There was no fight left in me
But redemption doesn't fall down at your feet
In the half light
We raised a hand to my defeat
And I watched the world fall
And I rebuilt it piece by piece
  • What types of pronouns are used in the first line? He uses a personal pronoun - I and a reflexive pronoun - myself.
  • Why has he done this? He does this to really emphasise that only he can control his own belief.
  • What does redemption mean? It means to be forgiven or saved from something bad.
  • What does it mean by 'fall down at your feet'? He is saying that it doesn't just happen, you have to act to be forgiven or be saved from your struggle.
  • Why does he use the phrase 'half light'? He is trying to be positive by choosing light. He could have used half dark which would have been more negative. Link to glass half full/empty.
  • What does he mean when he raises his hand? We raise our hand as a gesture to stop. So he is saying stop to all that defeats us.
  • What does defeat mean? What could this relate to? To be defeated is to be beaten and lose. So he is talking about everything that brings us down and makes us feel inadequate or bad about ourselves.
  • What happened as a consequence? How do you know? By putting an end to all this negativity can you feel like the whole world has collapsed and is falling apart but that doesn't mean it will stay that way.
  • How did the singer react? He didn't let it affect him, he builds his world back up and moves forward.
  • Did this happen quickly or slowly? It takes time as he says piece by piece.

In the arms of the saint I'm a stranger

We're all trying to find our way

At the death of every darkness there's a morning
Though we all try
We all try
We're all one step from grace 

I wonder why we give up on love
When it's always within reach
You and I we suffered this enough
We all try
We all try
We're all one step from grace

  • Why does the singer use the pronoun 'we'? Again, he is making people aware that so many of us give up and everyone goes through the same struggle and feelings.
  • How is it within reach? We can find love in lots of different places if we look for it. Here you can discuss what love means, who we love and why etc.
  • Why does the singer use the word suffered? He recognises annd emphasises that we can really struggle and it can be very painful.
In the arms of the saint I'm a stranger
We're all trying to find our way
At the death of every darkness there's a morning
Though we all try
We all try
We're all one step from grace
  • What is the overall theme of the song? The theme is all about making mistakes but not letting them define you instead, learning from them and moving forward. The song recognises that this isn't easy but these experiences make us stronger and ultimately better people who are happy.
  • Do you like the song? Why?
  • What valuable lessons can we learn from this song? That everyone goes through the same struggles, so when pupils feel upset and lost, it is better to talk and share those feelings. 

I hope you find these ideas useful!


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