Roberta Flack “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” Meaning [Explained]

“First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a timeless masterpiece sung by Roberta Flack that captures the profound emotion and transformative power of love at first sight.

The song narrates the experiences of a person falling deeply in love, starting from the very first encounter, and underscores the raw, all-encompassing nature of love. Here, we break down the lyrics, verse by verse, to delve deeper into the beauty and depth of this classic song.

Lyrics Interpretation

Before we delve into the story behind this song, let’s take a closer look at each verse of the lyrics.

Verse 1: Love at First Sight

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies

In the first verse, the speaker recalls the instant they first laid eyes on their beloved’s face. This moment is compared to the rising sun, illuminating the darkness. The beloved’s eyes, bright and glowing, are likened to the sun – the source of all light, warmth, and life – implying their transformative effect on the speaker’s life.

Further, the moon and the stars, traditionally symbols of beauty, constancy, and unattainable grandeur, are portrayed as gifts from the beloved, suggesting their profound influence and charm. The phrase “the dark and the endless skies” conveys the limitless potential and expansiveness of their love.

Verse 2: The First Kiss

And the first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command, my love

The second verse details the first kiss shared between the speaker and their beloved. This first intimate contact is described as seismic, a shaking of the earth, underscoring the profound impact of their love. The trembling heart of a captive bird is a metaphor for the fragile and precious nature of their affection.

The concept of the bird being at the speaker’s command could indicate their responsibility and care in handling this delicate love. It’s a moment of vulnerability and intimacy that cements their deep connection.

Verse 3: The First Embrace

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last ’til the end of time my love
And it would last ’til the end of time

The third verse describes the first time the speaker and their beloved lay together, symbolizing their emotional and physical union. Feeling the beloved’s heart close to theirs embodies the synchronicity and deep connection between them.

The speaker expresses an unwavering conviction that their shared joy will permeate the world and continue indefinitely, even until the end of time. This idea of eternity further amplifies the depth of their commitment and the durability of their love.

Final Verse: A Return to the Beginning

The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face, your face

In the closing lines, the speaker revisits the first encounter, emphasizing the beloved’s face, which initiated this cascade of profound emotions. The repetition of “your face” serves as a poignant reminder of the moment that changed everything for them.

Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a profound and evocative narrative of love that’s transcendent, immediate, and eternal. Through its lyrics, it beautifully encapsulates the transformative power of love, telling a tale as old as time in a deeply personal and universal manner.

True Meaning Behind “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

There’s an interesting story behind Roberta Flack’s swoon-worthy track “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Although the song is now synonymous with Flack’s sensuous and impassioned delivery, it had quite a journey before becoming a chart-topping hit in 1972. Heck, the song was almost fifteen years old and wasn’t even written by her.

Ewan MacColl, a central figure in the British folk music scene, penned the song for American folk singer Peggy Seeger. And boy, their relationship was more complicated than a season finale of a soap opera! They were not exactly the best of pals when MacColl wrote this epic love song. “After all, he was married to someone else then,” Seeger said. However, they eventually tied the knot in the 70s.

It’s easy to see why the song struck a chord with so many people – the lyrics are an anthem to that all-consuming, heart-racing, palms-sweating feeling of new love. The grand, poetic imagery captures the dizzying heights of early romance perfectly, making it relatable for anyone who’s had their breath taken away by love at first sight.

MacColl’s lyrical prowess aside, it’s the melody that really takes this tune to the next level. The significant leaps in each verse echo the emotional rollercoaster that new love brings, likely reflecting MacColl’s own feelings for Seeger.

Despite Flack’s version achieving mega-popularity and winning a Grammy, Seeger wasn’t a fan of it – though she did enjoy the royalties that came her way as MacColl’s widow. In fact, according to his daughter-in-law, MacColl wasn’t overly fond of any versions of his song, even those sung by Elvis! He called his collection of these versions ‘The Chamber of Horrors.’ Now that’s a tough crowd!

Although it’s tough to dismiss MacColl’s and Seeger’s opinions, given their intimate connection to the song, it’s hard to deny that Flack’s slow, rich rendition hit the mark. The way she luxuriates in each verse and draws out the raw emotion in the lyrics is pretty special.


In the end, no matter whose rendition you prefer, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” remains a beautiful tribute to that overwhelming rush of falling in love for the first time. It’s a song that resonates with all the lovebirds out there who’ve been completely swept off their feet by that special someone. After all, who can resist a love song that captures the magic of love at first sight so beautifully?

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