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Old 09-10-2015, 12:00 PM
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The tie that binds meaning?

The tie that binds / the ties that bind

The above is a well known phrase, originally from a hymn and used since in a film title, a Bruce Springsteen song and a novel, amongst other things.

But what would you say it actually means? I can guess that it's about relationships, or family, your roots as it were, but would you say it's a positive message?
Old 09-10-2015, 01:41 PM
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I don't think it really has a value, at least not in the US. Most people use it non-idiomatically in my experience. If I saw it used as an idiom I would assume it was a reference to marriage or family.
Old 09-10-2015, 01:51 PM
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The oldest reference I could find was the Don Williams song from 1974.

The Ties That Bind

Knowing, you stand by me through good and bad
Makes all the difference in my life
Day by day, sweetheart, I find
These are the ties that bind
Old 09-10-2015, 01:59 PM
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When we got married in an Episcopal ceremony about 15 years ago, during the rehearsal our priest demonstrated how he would remove his stole (the scarf-like vestment that priests wear) and wrap it around our intertwined hands as he performed the ceremony. He explained that this was an ancient tradition and the source of the phrase "the ties that bind" - he was tying our hands together, binding us in matrimony.

I always took that with a bit of salt since I never had heard it anywhere else, but I never looked into it to see if it was true or not.
Old 09-10-2015, 02:20 PM
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I Walk The Line lyrics:

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line


No idea what it means though.

Last edited by K364; 09-10-2015 at 02:23 PM.
Old 09-10-2015, 02:26 PM
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It is a positive message - about our links to other people that uplift, encourage and support us - and it goes back even further:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fawcett_(theologian)
http://web.archive.org/web/200902131...002/12.11.html
Old 09-10-2015, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ornery Bob View Post
The oldest reference I could find was the Don Williams song from 1974.
You're off by about two centuries. The words appear in a hymn written by John Fawcett in 1782, Blest be the Tie that Binds.
Old 09-10-2015, 02:30 PM
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Since this is about song lyrics, let's move it to Cafe Society.

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Old 09-10-2015, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
When we got married in an Episcopal ceremony about 15 years ago, during the rehearsal our priest demonstrated how he would remove his stole (the scarf-like vestment that priests wear) and wrap it around our intertwined hands as he performed the ceremony. He explained that this was an ancient tradition and the source of the phrase "the ties that bind" - he was tying our hands together, binding us in matrimony.

I always took that with a bit of salt since I never had heard it anywhere else, but I never looked into it to see if it was true or not.
You should have shouted, "Cite?"
Old 09-10-2015, 04:12 PM
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I always thought it meant something like keep your promises to those who mean the most to you, or something like that.
Old 09-10-2015, 04:34 PM
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I always just thought it was a euphemism for marriage. Similar to "ball and chain" but less derogatory.
Old 09-10-2015, 05:35 PM
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Since I grew up singing that hymn, I've never had a problem understanding the meaning, especially in light of the following verses. It basically means that our shared faith joins us in fellowship...we care for each other, just as members of a family do, and that tie cannot be broken, even when we are apart from one another. The love of Christ and our fellow man is the tie that binds us together into the family of God. You can extrapolate that to marriage, to family, to any community. The sense of community that links us to each other is a blessing and a strength.
Old 09-10-2015, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
You're off by about two centuries. The words appear in a hymn written by John Fawcett in 1782, Blest be the Tie that Binds.
And in the historical context of that hymn, it's a bond of fellowship within a church:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Fawcett served for seven years, despite a small income and a growing family. It seemed only practical that he move to a church that paid a larger salary. When he received a call in 1772 to the large and influential Carter's Lane Baptist Church in London he planned to accept the call. But at the last minute he changed his mind, and remained at Wainsgate where his salary was 25 a year. To commemorate this event he later wrote the words to "Blest Be the Tie that Binds", possibly his most famous hymn.
In other words, Fawcett couldn't bear to part with his current congregation -- the ties that bound him to his current flock.

The lyrics (4th verse in what I've seen published) even speak of the strength of those ties to survive parting if parting is needed:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blest Be the Ties that Bind
When we are called to part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.

Last edited by gnoitall; 09-10-2015 at 07:25 PM. Reason: clarifying
Old 09-10-2015, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Kenm View Post
You should have shouted, "Cite?"
"If there's anyone here who objects to this baseless anecdote, speak now or forever hold your peace...Now, here is a rod smaller than your thumb with which you may beat your wife."
Old 09-11-2015, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Since this is about song lyrics, let's move it to Cafe Society.

Colibri
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I protest! It wasn't about song lyrics, it was about the phrase! It just happens to appear in some songs.
Old 09-11-2015, 09:07 AM
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"Bless'd be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above."

Metaphorically, it's exactly what it says on the tin. A "tie," as in something that holds things together, that "binds," that is, holds things together. Is that clear enough?

Last edited by foolsguinea; 09-11-2015 at 09:09 AM.
Old 09-11-2015, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
I protest! It wasn't about song lyrics, it was about the phrase! It just happens to appear in some songs.
Since in the OP you ask for opinions about its meaning, if not CS it would go in IMHO, where I also considered moving it. Either way, it's not a GQ.
Old 09-11-2015, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
I protest! It wasn't about song lyrics, it was about the phrase! It just happens to appear in some songs.
I have assumed it was metaphorical, like "blood ties" - and could speak to family, community, church, organization. I would assume criminal organizations like the mafia could invoke it, too - i.e., I have assumed it could have positive and negative connotations...
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