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- 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 a 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 hast brought us thus far on the way;
- Thou who hast by Thy might
- Led us into 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.
- James Weldon Johnson
- O BLACK and unknown bards of long ago,
- How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
- How, in your darkness, did you come to know
- The power and beauty of the minstrel's lyre?
- Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
- Who first from out the still watch, lone and long,
- Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
- Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?
- Heart of what slave poured out such melody
- As "Steal Away to Jesus"? On its strains
- His spirit must have nightly floated free,
- Though still about his hands he felt his chains.
- Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye
- Saw chariot "Swing low"? And who was he
- That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh,
- "Nobody Knows de Trouble I See"?
- What merely living clod, what captive thing,
- Could up toward God through all its darkness grope,
- And find within its deadened heart to sing
- These songs of sorrow, love, and faith, and hope?
- How did it catch that subtle undertone,
- That note of music heard not with the ears?
- How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown,
- Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears?
- Not that great German master in his dream
- Of harmonies that thundered amongst the stars
- At the creation, ever heard a theme
- Nobler than "Go Down, Moses." Mark its bars,
- How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir
- The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung
- Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were
- That helped make history when Time was young.
- There is a wide, wide wonder in it all,
- That from degraded rest and servile toil
- The fiery spirit of the seer should call
- These simple children of the sun and soil.
- O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed,
- You--you alone, of all the long, long line
- Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed,
- Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine.
- You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings;
- No chant of bloody war, no exulting paean
- Of arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings
- You touched in chord with music empyrean.
- You sang far better than you knew; the songs
- That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed
- Still live--but more than this to you belongs;
- You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ.
- James Weldon Johnson
Poets' Corner .
H O M E .