cash for repentance

metanoia (Grk μετανοια) means literally “after-thought” or a change of mind or repentance.

Two songs from Johnny Cash’s album, American IV, contrast a repentant person with an unrepentant person.  The contrast is striking – between the person who ‘hangs his head’ (eventually in prayerful repentance in the last verse) and the person who ‘damns’ everyone (or more particularly, their eyes!).

Lyrics presented below:

“I Hung My Head”
Early one morning
With time to kill
I borrowed Jebb’s rifle
And sat on a hill
I saw a lone rider
Crossing the plain
I drew a bead on him
To practice my aim

My brother’s rifle
Went of in my hand
A shot rang out
Across the land
The horse, he kept running
The rider was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head

I set off running
To wake from the dream
My brother’s rifle
Went into the sheen
I kept on running
Into the south lands
That’s where they found me
My head and my hands

The sheriff he asked me
Why had I run
And then it came to me
Just what I had done
And all for no reason
Just one peace of lead
I hung my head
I hung my head

Here in the court house
The whole town was there
I see the judge
High up in the chair
Explain to the court room
What went through you mind
And we’ll ask the jury
What verdict they find

I felt the power
Of death over life
I orphaned his children
I widowed his wife
I begged their forgiveness
I wish I was dead
I hung my head
I hung my head

Early one morning
With time to kill
I see the gallows
Up on a hill
And out in the distance
A trick of the brain
I see a lone rider
Crossing the plain

And he’d come to fetch me
To see what they’d done
And we’d ride together
To kingdom come
I prayed for god’s mercy
For soon I’d be dead
I hung my head
I hung my head

and…

“Sam Hall”
Well, my name it is Sam Hall, Sam Hall.
Yes, my name it is Sam Hall; it is Sam Hall.
My name it is Sam Hall an’ I hate you, one and all.
An’ I hate you, one and all:
Damn your eyes.

I killed a man, they said; so they said.
I killed a man, they said; so they said.
I killed a man, they said an’ I smashed in his head.
An’ I left him layin’ dead,
Damn his eyes.

But a-swingin’, I must go; I must go.
A-swingin’, I must go; I must go.
A-swingin’, I must go while you critters down below,
Yell up: “Sam, I told you so.”
Well, damn your eyes!

I saw Molly in the crowd; in the crowd.
I saw Molly in the crowd; in the crowd.
I saw Molly in the crowd an’ I hollered, right out loud:
“Hey there Molly, ain’t you proud?
“Damn your eyes.”

Then the Sherriff, he came to; he came to.
Ah, yeah, the Sherriff, he came to; he came to.
The Sherriff, he come to an he said: “Sam, how are you?”
An I said: “Well, Sherriff, how are you,
“Damn your eyes.”

My name is Samuel, Samuel.
My name is Samuel, Samuel.
My name is Samuel, an’ I’ll see you all in hell.
An’ I’ll see you all in hell,
Damn your eyes.