Understanding “Lift every voice and sing”

James Weldon Johnson, author of Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

Each year at our Annual Dinner – and at thousands of events across the country – we begin our program with the song Lift Every Voice & Sing.  The song, written by poet James Weldon Johnson, as become known as the Black national anthem.  This is a sense of pride and acknowledgment of where we have been in America and takes nothing away from honoring the Star Spangled Banner.  To understand more about the history of Johnson’s famous song–including a tremendous rendition from legend Ray Charles–click here.  And here is a more detailed description produced by National Public Radio.

In advance of this year’s Annual Awards & Scholarship Dinner, we wanted to post the lyrics to the entire song to pay respect to a very important part of our shared history.

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
‘Til 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 ’til 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,
‘Til 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.

–end–

Here’s a version sung by Kim Weston quite a few years ago. Thank you for visiting our site!

 

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