Bono in some unknown interview: I had the idea that no one can own Jerusalem, but everybody wants to put flags on it. The title's an ancient name that's not meant to be spoken. I got around it by singing it. I hope I don't offend anyone.
Jonas Steverud (Maintainer of U2MoL) (28:th of December 2004)
As the title of the song is the highest Name of God, it lets no doubt this song has a very religious character. I think the whole song is about the coming back of Jesus in the end of days, as described in Matthew 4:30.
The first phrase refers to the marriage in Matthew 22, and especially the wedding garment from the verses 11 and 12. We all need to get a new shirt to be allowed to sit at the table with the King and His Son. It is also about the happiness that will be in the Kingdom that will come (from Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For).
Always pain before a child is born is about all the bad things that are happening in this world. There is a lot of pain when giving birth to a new baby, but there's also a lot of joy when the baby finally is born. Still waiting for the dawn states the same thing, that we are living in the dark now, but there will be a sunrise when it'll all be over.
The sun is coming up in the ocean / This love is like a drop in the ocean. The first part refers back to still waiting for the dawn. At first glance, I didn't understand the second part. It sounds very good, but when you analyse the words it, you could think it means that the love from the Father is way to few and doesn't make any sense. But, because a drop is from the same liquid as the ocean, it should be understood that the drop and the ocean both stand for love. And in that way, it would mean that the love we see now is just a very tiny part of the love that the Father has and already has given to us.
The last phrase refers to Matthew 5 verse 14, where we can read that a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. I find it very beautiful that Bono asks for his city (= his live/soul) to be taken on a hill, and adds to this if it be Your will. It speaks from being very little in himself, fully depending on God to be redeemed, and only if it is the will of God.
Manuel Riezebosch, manuelfilternet.nl (2nd of April 2005)
This song definately holds conotations about the coming of the Kingdom of God. "There is always pain before the child is born" is a reference to Romans 8:22 in the New Testament. Wherein the Apostle writes, "since its conception all of creation has been groaning, as if in the labor pains of childbirth" painting a picture of creation itself, the cosoms as a whole, being delivered from teh atrocities that ravage it. Bono often uses prayer-like cries for absolution (listen to: Peace on Earth, Wake Up Dead Man) both of which have a "Thy Kingdom Come" allusion to them.
Greg gregorystefangmail.com ( 3rd of February 2009)