Man of Sorrows (Bruce Dickinson song)

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"Man of Sorrows"
Dickinson - Man of Sorrows.jpg
Single by Bruce Dickinson
from the album Accident of Birth
Released 3 June 1997
Recorded 1997
Genre Heavy metal
Length 5:20
Label CMC International
Writer(s) Bruce Dickinson
Producer(s) Roy Z
Bruce Dickinson singles chronology
"Accident of Birth"
"Man of Sorrows"
"Killing Floor"

Man of Sorrows is the second single from Bruce Dickinson's fourth solo album, Accident of Birth, released on 3 June 1997. The song was originally written for a film called Chemical Wedding, which existed only as a script at the time (it was eventually filmed and released in May 2008). The original version of the song is included on the Best Of Bruce Dickinson album and was recorded in 1990, engineered by André Jacquemin (who is better known for his sound-engineer work for Monty Python) and with Janick Gers on guitar.1

In interviews, Bruce Dickinson has stated that the song's lyrics are about the occult English writer Aleister Crowley. The repeated expression "Do what thou wilt!" refers to the motto of the Abbey of Thelema, which the French Renaissance writer François Rabelais invented in his philosophical work Gargantua. In this abbey, men and women live together in peace and harmony according to the principle:

In all their rule and strictest tie of their order there was but this one clause to be observed, Do What Thou Wilt; because men that are free, well-born, well-bred, and conversant in honest companies, have naturally an instinct and spur that prompteth them unto virtuous actions, and withdraws them from vice, which is called honour.

Inspired by Rabelais' ideas, Crowley founded in 1920 a commune called the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.

The title Man of Sorrows refers to a passage in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah 53, which describes a man who takes on the sins of all mankind. According to Catholic teaching, this figure foreshadows Jesus, who died for mankind to redeem them:

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.2

A Spanish version of the song, Hombre Triste, is included on the 2005 expanded edition of Accident of Birth. A radio edit and an orchestral version of Man of Sorrows are included on the same CD.



1 The Best of Bruce Dickinson. 2001. Disc. 2. Track 13. The Voice of Crube.

2 Isaiah 53.3-4. See also Man of Sorrows

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