For Black History Month I decided to share with you a song that is very important in the African-American community. The song is “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and it is commonly referred to as The Black National Anthem. It was originally written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) in 1899 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1900. The song became an even stronger staple in the Black Community during the Civil Rights Movement and is the Official Song for the NAACP. During the Inauguration of President Barack Obamathe third stanza of the song was recited by Reverend Joseph Lowery during his benediction. Because this beautiful and uplifting song has been so important to my people, I feel that starting off the celebration of this month on this blog with this song is perfect and fitting. Especially considering how hard the last several months have been for us with the loss of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford and many others. Our struggle for Civil Rights continues which makes this song apropos.
Below I have included the lyrics to the song as well as a beautiful performance featuring Gladys Knight and Bebe Winans. Enjoy!
Lift Every Voice and Sing
By James Weldon Johnson
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening 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 chastening 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 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,
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.