Today’s Thoughtful Thursday offers an anthem to remind us that we have endured hard times before, and we will survive them again. James Weldon Johnson wrote the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (and his brother John Rosamond Johnson wrote the music) in 1900 as a birthday tribute to Abraham Lincoln, and it was first performed by a chorus of 500 black school children. The song became very popular in the black community, and is known as the “Negro National Anthem”.
Johnson, a true Renaissance man, was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist.
If you are of a certain age, you know this song well, but as the years have passed fewer of us have taught it to our children. Time to fix that. Listen to this song with your sons (here is a link to the song with the lyrics), learn it if you don’t know it, and teach it to them. It is a song of strength, and a song of hope, and a song of allegiance to God and to America, “our native land”. We need to sing this song now, as often and as loudly as possible.
Lift Every Voice and Sing
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 the 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 days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for 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 bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast 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,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
James Weldon Johnson