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January 20, 2009

Lifting Every Voice

Civil rights leader Joseph E. Lowery began the closing prayer at the inauguration by quoting the final stanza of James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing":

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.


Lowery's recitation of that song, sung for so many years when hope seemed more faith than realistic expectation, brought me to tears.

Is the full text of Lowery's benediction available?

It might be better to refer to Dr. Lowery's words as a prayer, since he was addressing God. It was certainly more than a speech.

"Rosa Parks sat down so (Martin Luther) King could walk. King walked so Barack could run. Barack ran so that all of us can fly."

attributed to Rev. Elias Mwamba Mutuale, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

This is a beautiful song sung only in black churches, it also referred to as the Negro Anthem. Too bad, so many black churches think it's only appropiate for Black History Month. It's is still appropiate for those who seek the blessings of God for the weak, lost who believe that God left Black Folks at the shores of Africa. All people of the world should celebrate the beauty that God gave to all his people.

I belong to an inclusive church that sings this anthem every first Sunday in February. www.kpic.org

Yvonne, I agree its a beautiful and powerful song but we sing it in our church and, although we wish we weren't, we're pretty much 95% white.