7

In perhaps the most famous song of the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, "Close Every Door", we see these lyrics:

Close every door to me
Keep those I love from me
Children of Israel are never alone

For I know I shall find
My own peace of mind
For I have been promised
A land of my own

Then later, at the end of the song, we see:

Close every door to me
Keep those I love from me
Children of Israel are never alone

For we know we shall find
Our own peace of mind
For we have been promised
A land of our own

Why does it change to the plural?

2

I believe it is a transition from his belief that he will return home, to instead refer to the belief that the "children of Israel" as a whole will find their home. This transition can be seen in the musical progression as it goes from his solo performance of the chorus to the ensemble echoing him until, at the end of the song, they're singing in concert with him.

This, of course, could be seen as a commentary on the existence of a country of Israel as a home for the Israelites, particularly due to the progressive annexation of Palestine, which is why there was a controversy in Australia when one school changed the lyrics from "children of Israel" to "children of Kindness", resulting in the lyricist, Sir Tim Rice refusing permission for the change and stating that the song is not supposed to be about "Israel and Palestine":

He added: "I mean Joseph is an innocent story straight from the Bible and these people in New Zealand thought we were making statements about Israel and Palestine - bonkers."

Andrew Lloyd Webber backing him on this decision, stating that the song is about the connection that Joseph makes with Israel.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show’s composer, recently shared his displeasure with the attempt to make unauthorized changes to their work. “Tim is quite right. You cannot re-invent a bible story,” he told The Guardian. “That song is a serious moment and a key point in the show. It is about the connection Joseph suddenly makes with Israel. Tim was paraphrasing the bible and it should be kept that way.”

In my mind, Andrew Lloyd Webber's statement backs my initial assertion on musical grounds that the transition from "I" to "We" signifies Joseph identifying with the entirety of his people.

  • Interesting perspective, but would you mind explaining how this is shown in the text? How do we see this transition? What has been leading up to it? – Mithical Jan 4 '18 at 13:38
  • @Mithrandir: To me, it's in the musical structure of it, starting with it just being Joseph singing the lines, followed by the chorus echoing him, and then at the end of the song, as it goes to "we" instead of "I," both he and they are singing together. I also included a Webber quote about the song being about his connection that he makes with Israel. – Sean Duggan Jan 4 '18 at 13:45
  • I don't know if I got the downvotes because people think this is a bad answer, because they don't agree with my conclusions, or because they feel that musical theater is out of scope. ^_^ – Sean Duggan Jan 4 '18 at 20:08
  • I downvoted because you dont explain why your first paragraph is the correct answer, and your second and third paragraphs contradict the conclusions of the first. I also downvoted because you dont take into account that authors are not always accurate even when it comes to discussions of their own works. Given that seven people upvoted the question, i doubt the downvotes are because people think the question is offtopic. – user111 Jan 4 '18 at 20:52
  • 2
    I was going to suggest it reflected his (re-)identification with the rest of his family (the literal children of Israel) but this answer pretty much convinced me it was about the nation. +1 from me if it'll let me .. – Will Crawford Jan 5 '18 at 0:19

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