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

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Elton John’s classic “Circle of Life” is remade in the 1994 children’s animated classic “The Lion King” and this version may be larger 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 Lion King movie and the scene it appears in. The song is about appreciating life and admiring the wonders of this world.

“Circle of Life” from the film’s soundtrack has a Zulu chant at the start that sets this song apart from all others on the soundtrack. The captivating Zulu song performed by Lebo M invites all the animals of the Pride Lands to come and witness the birth of the Price-Simba lion. These lyrics are translated into English later in the article.

Elton John’s version of “Circle of Life” is more of a pop anthem about the mysterious lifestyles that surround us. He talks about the wonders of the world, the complications and the victories of life that everyone has to face. Elton John and Tim Rice composed the lyrics for the original track.

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

Watch “Circle of Life” from The Lion King movie soundtrack

Watch Elton John play “Circle of Life” live

Download the single “Circle of Life” on iTunes and Amazon
Buy the Official Lion King Soundtrack Album on iTunes and Amazon

The meaning of Zulu’s words in “Circle of Life”

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

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uh ingonyama

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama

Siyo nqoba
Ingonyama nengw ‘enamabala – Genius.com

The first line loosely translates to “here is a lion”. However, “ingonyama” is a special Zulu word for lion. It means more of a king’s position than just a lion. So, in a grander way, that line would mean “here, here is your lion king.”

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

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

The last 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 connection of a leopard in the story. Maybe a Zulu word for lion cub?

From there, we would annotate the lyrics to the original version of Elton John’s “Circle of Life”.

Analysis of the lyrics and meaning of the song “Circle of Life”

Verse 1

Elton John marvels at the creations of this world. He says from the moment we open our eyes until they close, there are countless miracles to be seen in the world. Everything from the life cycle of an ant to an elephant, or the functioning of a sunflower to rivers that flow water every second; the world is full of wonders. You just have to open your eyes and see them.

It could be phrased as a “dog-eating dog world”, but we should learn to “live and let live”. Elton John also says that everyone has been in the midst of a stampede from the moment we were born. We’re pushed and programmed to perform a certain track, where you might or might not get away with it. But the golden line in that song for us is “never take more than you give”.

Taking more than we gave has caused just about every natural and man-made disaster in the world. We have ruined the earth and we are suffering consequences like landslides. We have destroyed forests and we suffer from the lack of clean air to breathe. We have overcrowded and are starving.


Elton John compares the circle of life to a wheel of fortune; you could win it all or lose it all. He likens it to a “leap of faith” and a “band of hope,” both of which are essential ingredients for going through life. Even whether we do it or not, life goes on, but it is our job to chart our destiny or our path.

Verse 2

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

Some people make it big, some people smash it big, some soar through the stars, some eat dirt and try to heal the scars of battle. Either way, life goes on and it is our duty to change it as we want.

Elton John also marvels at the fact that there is simply too much to see or do in a lifetime on Earth. The Sun is the main source of life on Earth. This small flaming ball around which we turn, brings this world to life, to death and to life. The circle of life continues through each of us, forever and ever – “one endless turn”.

A simple song with a pretty deep meaning by Elton John and Tim Rice. The song fits perfectly with the opening sequence of The Lion King movie which shows Simba’s birth. We can’t wait to hear this epic music again in the 2019 ‘The Lion King’ movie reboot.

Let us know what you think of ‘Circle of Life’ and what it means to you in the comments below. If you like this article, please share it with your friends.

Elton John’s “Circle of Life” full lyrics

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