Lift Every Voice and Sing
Today’s song is often referred to as the “Black National Anthem”. It was written in 1899 as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and turned into a song by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Reportedly written in response to post-Civil war times of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws, in the 1950s it became a major symbol of the Civil Rights Movement and was quoted several times in speeches by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. It still holds a strong place in black American culture today.
There is much controversy surrounding the song. And like most good things, the world has gotten hold of something good and turned it into something not-so-good. What was meant to be a poem/song full of hope and rising above adversity; pointing out victory through the steady hand of God and a call to stay true to Him has, by some, been used to segregate and divide … the very thing the author was against … and does Jesus segregate and divide or does He promote peace and love everyone unconditionally?
John 12:46 - “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 3:15 - “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Mark 8:35 - “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:48 - “… Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” 1Corinthians 15:57-58 – “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Just as Jesus came to save “whosoever”, freedom and liberty are for “whosoever” too. There are no conditions or exceptions with salvation in Christ. Lift every voice and sing. We all share the dark past of history, as well as the hope of the future. There’s no color difference of souls, here or in heaven. We all bleed the same and have a Saviour Who shed His blood so that we might live together peaceably. Call it the Black, Hispanic, Mexican, White, French, etc. anthem if you want to but it is a beautiful song for us all. Lift every voice and sing!
Artist: Tasha Cobbs Leonard
Writers: James W. & John R. Johnson
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