Racist trolls have gone ballistic over Sheryl Lee Ralph singing the first verse of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in the Super Bowl pregame festivities last Sunday.
I will not dignify any of their comments by repeating them. I would point out that though the song is often called the Black National Anthem, it’s mostly known by its formal title. And it’s under that title that it lands as #519 in the United Methodist Hymnal.
Yes, it’s a religious song.
Yes, it’s a patriotic song.
No, it’s not a racist song.
I suspect that if a white woman sang “Dixie,” the Confederates would have cheered.
But a black woman singing a truly patriotic song, not a trashy ditty from our racist past – whoa, that’s another thing.
For the record, here are the lyrics.
1. 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.
2. 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 bright gleam of our bright star is cast.
3. 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 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.
I’m sure the governor of Florida has his troops roaming the land looking for white people who feel aggrieved over this song. Let him. Read the lyrics again. Guess which side God is on. Amen!