Lift every voice and sing till earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise,
high as the list'ning skies, let it resound loud as the Rolling sea
Sing a song full of faith that the Dark past has taught us,
sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought Us;
facing the rising sun of our new day Begun,
let us march on till victory is Won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the Chast'ning rod,
felt in the day that hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady Beat, have not our weary feet,
come to the Place on which our fathers sighed?
We have Come over a way that with tears has been Watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from The gloomy past, till now we stand at Last
where the white gleam of our star is Cast.
God of our weary years, God of Our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by thy Might, Led us into the light,
keep us Forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Least our hearts, drunk with the wine of The world, we forget thee,
Shadowed beneath the Hand, may we forever stand,
true to our God, true to our native land
~ Songwriters: J. ROSAMOND JOHNSON, JAMES JOHNSON
Songs are living things. Rarely are they "one and done." Mysteriously somehow, songs are both rooted in time and place, and also floating free waiting for the time your spirit can catch up. Songs are life companions. We find them or they find us. Somehow, sometime there is a joining that finds a home in a shared story.
"Lift every Voice and Sing," found me when I was in seminary. Her melody is both trudging and marching. Her words tell the story of heartbreak and rejoicing. When this song found me in seminary, I was going through the joyful, painful, impossibly graceful time of coming out. God of my weary years, God of my silent tears. God, you have brought me thus far on the way. To this day, I cannot sing this song without tears rolling down my face. My tears speak to the truth of this song's story and my own. This anthem has proclaimed the story of triumph over oppression for our African American brothers and sisters for generations. It proclaims it for us all today.
Songs bring continual gifts our whole lives long. They companion us, they nudge us, they carry us through and carry us along. They inspire and remind us. They live in us and we in them. This song met me almost 30 years ago at Candler. I can only imagine where these words will find me 30 years from now.