Just a voice and drums. That’s it. It has 100 million streams.
Lincoln is an artist that released a single EP in 2017 “A Constant State of Ohio”, which nearly faded into obscurity. At some point in 2019, tik-tok picked up a short, only-percussion song, “Saint Bernard” with fervor. This shot the EP into the spotlight as a modern staple of up-an-coming midwest emo. Today, this 1:43 minute song has nearly 100 million streams on Spotify.
Hung pictures of patron saints up on my wall
To remind me that I am a fool
Tell me where I came from, what I will always be:
Just a spoiled little kid who went to Catholic school
When I am dead, I won’t join their ranks
‘Cause they are both holy and free
And I’m in Ohio, satanic and chained up
And until the end, that’s how it’ll be
I said “Make me love myself, so that I might love you”
Don’t make me a liar, ’cause I swear to God
When I said it, I thought it was true
The song as a whole is a short, startlingly bare description of dealing with lingering guilt that comes from a Catholic upbringing and rejecting it. I’ve noticed that a lot of songs that follow this theme express that they have diverged from their religious upbringing, but always still hold reverence towards religious figures. Usually under the context that they feel as though they have disappointed these figures.
Even in this song, the narrator paints himself as vulgar and unworthy in comparison to the saints he is describing, and how he isn’t worthy of a Heaven.
But to this extent, he is also blaming these saints: saying that if he had been given the ability to love himself, then maybe he would have more faith. He ironically uses his Lord’s name in vain as he laments that he thought he really did hold faith, and that perhaps he wanted to return to it.
I think it’s also worth throwing in the lyrics from the song Saint Bernard 2: “Lord, please make me love myself so that I might love you / Lord, make me a liar cause I swore to God / Back when swearing still felt like the truth”).
In Catholicism, there is no Saint Calvin.
However, the idea of Calvinism in Christianity is a Protestant belief that claims you have no control of whether you end up in Heaven or Hell, and that everything is predetermined. This is probably why Calvin is telling someone not to worry, since faith or lack thereof doesn’t matter.
Calvinism was denounced by many nations, only even being allowed in a few. It’s wide unpopularity could be what the rest of the verse is referring to. John Calvin even said this of naming the movement “Calvinsim”:
“They could attach us no greater insult than this word, Calvinism. It is not hard to guess where such a deadly hatred comes from that they hold against me.”
In this regard, the narrator is relating to this ostracized figure in Christianity as a whole.
Saint Calvin told me not to worry about you
But he’s got his own things to deal with
There’s really just one thing that we have in common:
Neither of us will be missed
Saint Bernard sits at the top of the driveway
You always said how you loved dogs
I don’t know if I count, but I’m trying my best
When I’m howling and barking these songs
The effect of this last verse is chilling, as the already bare song fades away to just intense spoken word, only coming back in thunderously at “top of the driveway”, the rest of the drone of this verse sounding, well, Satanic.
There are two Saint Bernards in Catholicism, but this song is likely referring to the one who the dog is named after, and who is known for hospitality. He was known for caring for the poor and travelers. I think that putting this saint in the center of the song could be referring to. sort of comfort that this saint may have brought the narrator.
Or, alternatively, the narrator could really just be referring to the dog breed. If he truly feels he has drifted from his faith – then perhaps a Saint Bernard is just a Saint Bernard.
I think this explanation makes more sense in the scheme of the song, and he almost uses this ending to paint the rest of the songs in the album as something like a devotional, or as if he made it for a higher being.