I have some trouble understanding a line from the song, "You Raise Me Up"

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

I can guess the meaning of the line, "my heart burdened be." But I can't get it grammatically. I think it should be "my heart is burdened." I understand it's because it is a song but I'm a Korean English teacher. I want to make my students understand the line clearly. Help me, please!

  • @Mari-Lou The title of the song is given in the title of the question. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 22:58
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    @Mari-LouA It's a ripoff of Danny Boy called "You Raise Me Up" Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:01
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    Songs are generally not a good way to learn English grammar. Song writers and singers often use nonstandard grammar either to fit the music better or to rhyme better.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:07
  • I originally heard this line as 'My heart burdens me', which is undoubtedly correct grammar.
    – Sydney
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


You are correct about the meaning. You are also correct that this construction is not standard modern English, at least not in the US.

The author is Irish, and his construction may reflect usage in some Irish dialect of English or a translation from some feature of Erse. Or, more likely, he may have just played a bit loose with English grammar to force a rhyme.

  • It's not Irish, it's simply a poetic inversion of word order.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:40
  • @Robusto when my heart burdened be is not standard English in the US, and it is not just an inversion of word order. That use of be Is not standard, at least not in the US, and is inconsistent with the other verbs in the quoted lines. To let a teacher infer that when my heart burdened be is a model for contemporary American English is not something I want to do. An earlier comment pointed out that trying to learn English from the lyrics of popular songs is probably a poor idea. Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 0:05
  • It's also subjunctive, which is still standard English, and it is an inversion.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 0:34
  • Did I say it was not an inversion? And if it be a subjunctive, then why are the other verbs not subjunctive. The writer was simply too lazy to find a rhyme in modern colloquial English. Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 0:53

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