That Hymn From Lady Macbeth Isn’t As Epic As You Think

Photo: Courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution.
In a scene in the upcoming Lady Macbeth, protagonist Katherine tells her lover that she'd follow him anywhere: "to the cross, to the prison, to the grave, to the sky." Their love may be forbidden, but she won't let anything come between them — not even death itself.
If you're already swooning, you're not alone: It's an incredibly romantic (albeit pretty dark) thing to declare to the one you love. But, taken at face value, this refrain becomes a lot less ominous. "To the cross, to the prison, to the grave, to sky," is uncannily similar to the lyrics to a 1989 hymn, "Lord, I Lift Your Name On High."
Written by Christian worship leader and songwriter Rick Founds, this hymn's chorus goes: "You came from Heaven to earth to show the way/From the earth to the cross my debt to pay/From the cross to the grave/From the grave to the sky/Lord, I lift Your name on high." Sounds familiar, no?
On his website, Founds writes that the idea for the song came to him while reflecting on his faith and, of all things, hydraulics. He'd just read an article about the different forms that water takes in nature (from condensation to precipitation to evaporation) and realized that God's presence in people's lives takes many forms, too.
"Christ, our Savior...was with the Father from the beginning, 'condensed Himself,' if you will, came to this Earth as a man, dwelt among us, washed away our sins, died, was buried, rose again on the third day, and ascended back up to the Father," Founds writes.
In other words, the lyrics that seem to appear in Lady Macbeth, "from the earth to the cross my debt to pay/From the cross to the grave/From the grave to the sky," refer to Jesus' life, simple as that. We're not trying to poke holes in Lady Macbeth's historical accuracy. The fact that this song happens to be similar to Katherine's lines, even though it was written in 1989 (at least a century after when Lady Macbeth is set) and was inspired by a scientific paper is kind of beside the point.
Regardless of its modern-day, hydrologic origins, "Lord, I Lift Your Name On High," is like any other hymn. It's a song of devotion. Clearly, Founds intended it be about devotion to God, but this idea of enduring commitment applies to the scene in Lady Macbeth, too. Katherine is declaring her love and devotion to Sebastian, her aforementioned flame, come what may.
Whether or not this hymn provided inspiration for Katherine's speech, it's an intriguing parallel (and we're suckers for movie trivia). Besides, if every movie used perfectly and precisely historically accurate source material, we'd be stuck with some pretty boring movies.
Lady Macbeth is out in select U.S. theaters tomorrow, July 14. Check out the trailer (and listen to the hymn) below.

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