A great song whose lyrics describe the thoughts of a man who is about to be hanged.
‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’,one of Iron Maiden’s classics describes the thoughts which go through the mind of a man in his last hours before being sent to death.The song starts slowly with a bell that chimes in the background,creating a very tense atmosphere as the protagonist is waiting in his ‘cold cell’ for the inevitable to happen.
The imminent approach of death makes the convicted man go back to the past and reflect upon his life,as time flies mercilessly and the ‘Gallows Pole’ is waiting for him.The songs suddenly takes a fast pace with the arrival of the priest who reads him ‘the last rites’,and the anxiety of the man rises as he looks at ‘the last sights’ in his life;even in such dramatic moments,the desire for freedom and the lust for life are still there,and it looks like our man is wrongfully convicted,as the next lyrics suggest:’Can it be that there’s some sort of error?Hard to stop the surmounting terror.’This harsh reality makes the situation even more tragical,since an apparently innocent man is the victim of a cruel system which sent a huge number of people to their deaths throughout the centuries for political and religious reasons.
In these tense moments the protagonist tries to cling to any hope and even lies to himself that in fact he’s in the middle of a nightmare and he will wake up and go on with his life.Unfortunately that thought doesn’t last for long as he finally understands there’s no escape from his cruel and unjust fate,and his horror reaches the climax as it paralyses him and makes him unable to utter a single word.
As he is taken by guards towards the courtyard where the execution will take place,the convicted man goes through different states,from resignation:’After all I’m not afraid of dying’ to anger :’If there’s a God then why has he let me go?’,but eventually the initial state of terror turns into peace of mind as he realizes that,even if his body disappears,his soul will live on.It’s the thought which gives him comfort and makes him ready to leave this world which has brought him nothing but suffering.
As the moment of death gets closer and closer,the condemned man no longer feels anger and horror;the belief that there’s an afterlife where his soul will find justice and peace makes him conclude that ‘life down here is just a strange illusion’.This thought helps him accept and embrace physical death and get ready for another eternal existence.The fantastic solos of the song suggest the dramatic scenes of his execution,and at the end of the song,as life gets out of his body,he’s at complete peace with God and fully accepts his fate,and the verse’Hallowed Be Thy Name’ clearly indicates his gratitude towards God for finally allowing him to leave this world of illusion and misery.
‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ represents,both musically and lyrically,one of the best heavy metal songs ever created.It’s only one of the many reasons for which Iron Maiden deserves to be considered the greatest heavy metal band in the world.