2.02.2009

Celebrate Black History . . . and Future

Yesterday morning, as a kickoff to Black History Month, our church
sang "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." It is a rousing hymnal, this "Negro
National Anthem," and it is a rousing time in history for us to be
singing it. For though we have a long, long way to go in terms of
race relations and a level playing field for African Americans, we can
also unashamedly claim some great progress to date, notably in the
recent election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United
States, the first black man to hold the highest office in a majority
white country.

Indeed, as I looked around and saw people of all skin colors singing
and swaying, I could not help but close my eyes and hear the voices of
those who have gone before us, who have made intercession and cried
tears and even shed blood in the fight for civil rights and against
racism. I personally, as well as my generation, my race, and my
nation owe a great deal to those activists. Here's hoping that during
this Black History Month, we can get to know some of those heroes, and
by remembering them give them some of the due they're due.

Lift every voice and sing,
'Til 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 'til 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,
'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.

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