"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"
(Revelation 6:1-2)

There's a man going around taking names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won't be treated quite the same
There will 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 each sup
Will 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 singing
Multitudes are marching to a big kettledrum
Voices calling and voices crying
Some are born and some are dying
It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come

And the whirlwind is in the thorn trees
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn trees
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks
Until Armageddon, no shalam, no shalom

Then the father hen will call his chickens home
The wise man will bow down before the thorn
And at his feet they will cast the golden crowns
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 singing
Multitudes are marching to a big kettledrum
Voices calling and voices crying
Some are born and some are dying
It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come

And the whirlwind is in the thorn trees
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn trees
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks
In measured hundred weight 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."
(Revelations 6:7-8)


Lyrics submitted by shogunbrown

The Man Comes Around song meanings
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  • +2
    Song MeaningCash became a Christian later in life, and this song is based 100% on Biblical verses and symbolism.

    The verse in the beginning about the white horse: As someone already pointed out, the four beasts are not the four horsemen. The four beasts are angellic beings (among others) that exist in heaven and are described in Revelation 4. The white horse is the first of the Four Horsemen. Cash doesn't mention the horse's rider, however. Rev 6:2: "And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who say on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer."
    There are two popular interpretations as to the identity of the rider of the white horse. One is that the rider is the Antichrist, because war, famine, and death follow him. The other is that the Rider is Jesus Christ, as the color white has often been associated with Him. Also, the four beast saying "come and see" has frequently been translated differently, as simply "Come." The argument is that the beast didn't need to ask John the disciple to "come and see," as he was already seeing. The beast was calling to Christ, as so many have and do, to "come." Even the last verses in Revelation say "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
    It seems to me that Cash believed Christ was riding the white horse, as authority is given only to Christ to judge - "he decides who to free, and who to blame."
    "Going around taking names" also refers to Christ - those whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life will be saved, and held blameless.
    The "golden ladder reaching down" is most likely a reference to Genesis 28:12, when Jacob has his vision of the stairway reaching to heaven.
    "Terror in each sip and in each sup" most likely refers to Revelation 16, as angels are pouring forth bowls of God's wrath upon the earth.
    My guess is "will you partake of that last offered cup" refers to the offer of salvation through Christ. Christ prays to the Father in Matthew 26 to "let this cup pass away from me," referring to his approaching crucifixion. Also, the Psalmist in Psalm 116 says, "I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord."
    "Or disappear into the potter's ground" most likely refers to Genesis when the Lord says "Dust you are, and to dust you will return." However, Christians alive when Christ returns will not die; only unbelievers.

    Cash then goes into some less structured references:
    "Hear the trumpets hear the pipers" - The trumpets probably refer to the seven trumpet judgements in the Book of Revelation. The pipers reference is unclear to me, but possibly refers to the gathering of the masses for battle at Armageddon in Revelation 16. (Pipers are frequently associated with gathering.) This is probably why "the multitudes are marching" to the beat of a drum, "the big kettledrum."
    "Voices calling voices crying, some are born and some are dying" is probably referring to the difference between the saved and unsaved on that last day. Christ's return will be joyful for some, dreadful for others.
    "It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come" - If there was any doubt as to the Biblical basis for this song, let it be put to rest. Christ says in Revelation 22:13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega. The First and the Last. The Beginning and the End."
    I do not know what the whirlwind and thorntree refers to. There are several references to each in the Bible, but I do not see Cash's connection.
    "The virgins are all trimming their wicks" refers to the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. Five virgins (humanity) were waiting in the dark for the bridegroom (Jesus), and all woke up to trim the wicks on their lamps. But 5 of the virgins (unbelievers) were unprepared and did not have enough oil. The other 5 (the Church) brought plenty of oil. The first 5 had to leave to buy oil, and the Bridegroom came for the second 5 while they were gone. So will it be at The End.
    The kicking against the pricks is another reference to the thorntree, which I don't understand.
    "'Til Armageddon, no shalam, no shalom." is pretty clear. Shalam and shalom are both Hebrew words which refer to peace, or making peace. Until Christ returns, there will be no peace.
    The "father hen" calling "his chickens home" refers to the Christ coming for his church.
    "The wise men will bow down before the throne, and at his feet they cast their golden crowns" refers to Revelation 4, in which the 24 elders surrounding God's throne bow before him and lay down their crowns.
    The next three lines are direct references to Revelation 22:10-12: "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."
    "In measured hundred weight and penny pound" could refer to many things... The Black Horse of the Apocalypse carries scales. Scales are often used to represent justice, and the Lord is just. He will judge all according to their deeds. Only those covered by the blood of Christ will be found without blame.
    The quoted verse at the end, seems to me to be a warning, as the entire song is. Will you partake of that last offered cup? Or disappear into the potter's ground? Are you prepared for that time when the Man comes around?
    aries339on February 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJohnny's right, my hair stands on end when I hear this song. It was used wonderfully in Dawn of the Dead, as the song has paralell themes to the movie. This is some of Cash's best work ever, the quotes from the Book of Revaltion fit the song perfectly. This song and his last album American IV was Cash's final chance at showing how he felt and seeking redemption. IMO he did what he set out to accomplish.
    PopCasualtyon February 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Four Beasts are not the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Four Beasts are the creatures who praise God in heaven and open the seals to release the Four Horsemen. It is even shown that they are not the same in the verses quoted in the song. The Beasts are saying come and look and are showing him the Four Horsemen.
    But I would have to agree about this being one of the best Cash songs out there.
    campbs1on March 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is so powerful. No matter if you are religious or not. The way he sings it, you have no choice to listen, and for it to send chills down your spine. The verses he speaks at the beginning are amazing especially the last one.
    gehsdude32on December 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about the apocolypse

    If you read on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you will see that there is a similarity between the song and quotes from the Christian Bible in chapter six of the Book of Revelation. The four horsemen are traditionally named after the powers/dangers they represent: Conquest, War, Famine/Pestilence and Death; only Death, however, is directly named in the Bible

    "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"

    Revelation 6:8 - "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him......... And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
    Jehovahon July 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcant believe no ones said anything about this song
    such a great tune!
    Onemosphereon March 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about Judgement Day, Armageddon, or whatever you wish to call it. 'The Man' being God. The verse which begins: "Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still, Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still, Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still" is a quote from the Book of Revelations.
    UDermon April 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWhat I got out of the song is that the Man is this person who can change any perspective of life. I thought the idea was that no matter who you are or what you do; you'll change this world with what you've got. The idea of the Man Comes around and he brings good to people despite the fact that they don't know who he is. "... would your partake of that last offer cup...Or disappear into the potter's ground?" I thought was just giving the idea of, what are you going to do once you have the opportunity to make a difference. Will you take action upon it or will you let it slip out of your reach? "Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still." That I believe is trying to tell us that you should be who you are no matter what. That never should you ever need to pretend to be something you're not. Anyways, that's just what I think of it. :P
    AtomicDuckieon April 11, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti heard this from ''dawn of the dead'' it really fit perfect ...
    NlCOLEon April 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI heard it in the movie "The Hunted"... and it fit that well, too.
    6th_sadistic_sniperon October 13, 2004   Link

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