I want to introduce you to a song. Some of you will already recognize this song but I strongly suspect for many this is a first. I am providing the words of this song, the full lyrics of its three verses. I ask that you read them slowly, carefully. Reflect on the content, what is being said. When you have done that, you will be ready for my comments below. And at the very end of this blog, I am also providing a link to enable you to actually listen to this song.
OK – here goes:
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.
So, what do you think? Good song? Strong lyrics? Expressive of the American Dream? Filled with the acknowledgement of God as the true Source of our strength? Yes, I believe all that and more.
And for those who do not know this song, it’s title is Lift Every Voice and Sing, originally a poem dating back to the early 1800’s and eventually transformed into song. And today it is often referred to as the Black National Anthem!
Truth be told, there is no one “Black National Anthem.” Can’t be. Technically, every national anthem across the great continent of Africa and across the island nations of the Caribbean would be a “Black” national anthem. But this song has given voice to the longings, hopes and dreams of Black citizens of the United States. And as I contemplate the content of this song, these are rich and beautiful longings that capture the reality of history, words that make proper tribute to the Power and Presence of God. And now this song, probably unknown, unheard, unrecognized by so many is also upsetting so many.
The National Football League has decided that, if there is a season this year, it will begin with inclusion of this song. So, what’s the problem with adding another song to the beginning of a game? Well, some would suggest, we have only one national anthem. True — but — We are many people with diverse histories, background and traditions. That’s the beauty of America.
As a youngster, in a Slovak Parish and school, our public events were known to begin with the Slovak National Anthem in addition to the American. As a student in a mostly Polish college, the same held true for singing the Polish National Anthem.
When the Toronto sports teams or those from Montreal play games on our soil, we stand, include and even sing the Canadian National Anthem and when our teams are across the boarder, they afford us the same courtesy.
Bottom line – this is a good song, a beautiful song, a song of our brothers and sisters and now they want to share it with us. We can stand strong and tall and unified. We can and should stand together. And Lift Every Voice and Sing!