elton john circle of life lyrics meaning the lion king

Elton John – Circle of Life (The Lion King Soundtrack) (Lyrics Analysis and Song Meaning)

Elton John’s classic “Circle of Life” gets remade in the children’s animated classic ‘The Lion King’ from 1994 and this version is possibly bigger than the original version. In the Disney movie soundtrack, singers Carmen Twillie and Lebo M deliver a stunning performance that truly captures the essence of the movie The Lion King and the scene in which it shows. The song is about appreciating life and taking in the wonders of this world.

“Circle of Life” from the movie soundtrack has a Zulu chanting at the beginning which has set this song apart from any other on the soundtrack. The enthralling Zulu chant performed by Lebo M acts as an invitation for all the animals of The Pride lands to come to witness the birth of the lion price-Simba. These lyrics are translated to English later in the article.

Elton John’s version of “Circle of Life” is more of a Pop anthem on the mysterious ways of life around us. He speaks of the wonders of the world and complications and victories of life everybody has to face. Elton John and Tim Rice composed lyrics to the original track.

We have already covered the hit classic “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John on The Lion King movie soundtrack.

Watch “Circle of Life” from The Lion King Movie Soundtrack

Watch Elton John Perform “Circle of Life” Live

Download “Circle of Life” Single on iTunes and Amazon
Buy ‘The Lion King’ Official Soundtrack Album on iTunes and Amazon

The Meaning of Zulu Lyrics in “Circle of Life”

Zulu is a language spoken in South Africa. Lebo M is of South African descent, picked up for the song by the soundtrack producer Hans Zimmer.

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama

Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala – Genius.com

The first line loosely translates to “here comes  a lion.” However, “ingonyama” is a special word in Zulu to address the lion. It signifies more of a king position than just lion. So, in a more grandeur manner, this line would mean “behold, here is your lion king.”

The second line is an affirmation of what is said in the first line. It translates to “Oh yes it is the majestic lion king.”

The next three lines are a repetition of the above lines.

The last few lines translate to something like “we are going to conquer” and the last line translates to “the lion is now joined by a leopard.” This translation is quite confusing as there is no linkage of a leopard in the story. Maybe a Zulu word for lion cub?

From here on we would annotate the lyrics to the original version of “Circle of Life” by Elton John.

Lyrics Analysis and Song Meaning of “Circle of Life”

Verse 1

Elton John marvels at the creations of this world. He says that from the moment we open our eyes until they shut down, there are countless miracles to be witnessed in the world. Anything from a life cycle of an ant to an elephant, or the workings of a Sunflower to the rivers that stream water every second; the world is filled with wonders. We just have to open our eyes and see them.

It might be phrased a ‘dog eat dog world,’ but we should learn to ‘live and let live.’ Elton John also says that all of are in the middle of a stampede from the moment we are born. We are pushed and programmed to run a certain track, where you could make it out or even not. But the golden line in this song to us is “never take more than you give.”

Taking more than what we have given has caused pretty much all the natural and human disasters in the world. We have ruined the earth and we suffer consequences like landslides. We have destroyed forests and we suffer from lack of pure air to breathe in. We have overpopulated and we starve.


Elton John compares the circle of life to a wheel of fortune; you might win or lose it all. He compares it to a ‘leap of faith’ and a ‘band of hope,’ both of which are essential ingredients to get through life. Even if we do or do not, life goes on, but it is our duty to carve our destiny or path.

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Verse 2

In the second verse of “Circle of Life,” the singer provides some excruciating truths about life.

Some people make it big, some people break it big, some soar through the stars, some eat dirt and try to heal the battle scars. No matter what, life goes on and it is our duty to change it the way we want.

Elton John also marvels at the fact that there is just too much of things to be seen or done in a lifetime on Earth. The Sun is the main source of life on Earth. That tiny flaming ball around which we spin, makes this world come to life and death and life again. The circle of life continues through each of us, forever and ever-“an endless round.”

A simple song with a quite a deep meaning by Elton John and Tim Rice. The song matches perfectly with the opening sequence of The Lion King movie which shows the birth of Simba. We are looking forward to hearing this epic music once again in the reboot of ‘The Lion King’ 2019 movie.

Let us know what you think about “Circle of Life” and what it means to you in the comments below. If you like this article, do share it with your friends.

Complete Lyrics to “Circle of Life” by Elton John


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