The Negro National Hymn, Lift every Voice and Sing was written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson and his brother to write a song to celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. James wrote the words and J. Rosamond Johnson wrote the music. This song was taught to and sung by a chorus of five hundred Negro school children.
I think it appropriate to share this Hymn on the birthday of Martin Luther King, an American patriot and prophet, whose dream is still for all of us, that light on the mountain top.
“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 started 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 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, where we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.
Copyright(c) Poetry Foundation/Complete Poems(2000)