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.
~ James Weldon Johnson
These lyrics from the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” were written by James Weldon Johnson. This song, often called the Black National Anthem, expresses the ethos of African American culture and history. With realism it speaks of a painful past. With optimism it speaks of arriving at a longed for place of liberty and light.
Yet for many his optimistic words, written in 1900, were closer to a prophetic utterance. For at that time the American South was a place of oppression and darkness and coming “to the place for which our father’s sighed” was but a dream.
It would take another six decades before Martin Luther King Jr. would arrive on the scene to aid in the deliverance of a people.
Yet Johnson’s words continue to inspire all who rejoice in liberty, who long to adhere to a high moral calling, and who seek divine guidance in their pursuit of the path of righteousness. This song ends with these words:
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
Thank you for your service and sacrifice.