“The Man Comes Around”

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: “Come and see.” And I saw.
And behold, a white horse.

There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names.
An’ he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won’t be treated all the same.
There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down.
When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up.
At the terror in each sip and in each sup.
For you partake of that last offered cup,
Or disappear into the potter’s ground.
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin’.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born an’ some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crown.
When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.
Listen to the words long written down, When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin’.
Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born an’ some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha’s and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound.
When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts,
And I looked and behold: a pale horse.
And his name, that sat on him, was Death.
And Hell followed with him.

 

Wikipedia

“The Man Comes Around” is the title track from Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around, released in 2002. It was actually written a few years earlier; however, Cash updated it for the album. It is one of the last songs Cash wrote before his death. Both sung and spoken, the song makes numerous Biblical references, especially to the Book of Revelation.

There are numerous Biblical references in the lyrics. A spoken portion from Revelation 6:1–2 in the King James Version [REV 6:1-6:2] introduces the song. This portion of Scripture describes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each heralded by one of the “four beasts” first mentioned in Revelation 4:6–9. The musical portion then begins with Cash reciting that a man will one day come to pass judgment. The chorus indicates that these events will be accompanied by trumpets, pipers, and “one hundred million angels singing”. The voice of the Lord in Revelation is often likened to the sound of a loud trumpet (Revelation 1:10; 4:1; and 8:13). Revelation 5:11 states that John saw that there are millions of angels in Heaven.

The song also alludes to the Parable of the Ten Virgins from the Gospel of Matthew (25:1–13) with the lyrics “The virgins are all trimming their wicks,” a reference to the virgins’ preparation of the Second Coming of Christ. The reference to the whirlwind might point to the prophet Elijah, one of the few Biblical characters taken to heaven without dying. He was transported by a “chariot of fire” borne by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Or it could allude to Hosea 8:7 where evildoers “sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Or it’s a paraphrase on the prophecy in Rev 7:1-4: “After this I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, so that no wind could blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrise, having a seal of the living God; and he called with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed+ the servants of our God in their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000” In this verse it’s clear that the world will be hit by (whirl)winds when the angels let go. The Ten Virgins are a biblical parable on the 144,000 – the same who cast their “golden crowns” – that are going to be at the wedding of the Lord.[8]

The phrase “It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks” is a quote from Acts 26:14, where Paul the Apostle describes his meeting Jesus while traveling to Damascus. It is a reference to a Greek proverb where a kicking ox only injures himself by attempting to kick against a goad, an illustration of the futility of resisting the Lord.

Elsewhere, the song mentions the wise men who bow before the Lord’s throne, and cast their “golden crowns” at the feet of God. Revelation 4 refers to elders who worship the Lord and “lay their crowns” before Him (Revelation 4:10), while Matthew 2 contains the well-known scene of the Wise Men bowing before the Lord’s manger.