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Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift Every Voice and Sing, aka The Black National Anthem, was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and put to music by his younger brother J. Rosamond Johnson.

Large choir singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing"
Large Choir Singing

Watch a brief background story of the Johnson brothers and their most famous song below. Listen to the song in the second video and download the free mp3 file.

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Short History of Lift Every Voice and Sing

Watch this short explanation about the Johnson brothers, composers of the song, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Hear the Song

Listen to an arrangement of all 3 verses of Lift Every Voice and Sing.

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A call, a reminder and a caution

Many times when “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is performed, it is not sung in its entirity. This may be due the uncomfortable reminder that all three verses portray.

Each verse represent a call, a reminder and a caution respectively.

Verse 1, is a call for ALL people to sing out for harmony and unity of all people. I believe the words “lift EVERY voice” was an intentional choice.

Verse 2 is an uncomfortable and heavy reminder of the past. Slavery, segregation and injustice are topics that most people may prefer to forget. But they are important for us to understand and to recognize our mistakes.

Verse 3 reminds us not to forget God, who was there all throughout the suffering years. For those who believe, this is perhaps the most important message. Especially today as we live in an extremely materialistic and self-centered world.

FREE mp3 File

Get the mp3 soundtrack of Lift Every Voice and Sing here.

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The Lyrics

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 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, 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 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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