Lift Every Voice and Sing
February 2, 2021
Listen to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” performed by the Stanford Talisman. Talisman, founded in 1990 at Stanford University, performs music that addresses human struggle and triumph.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing” (often called The Black National Anthem) was first performed publicly on February 12, 1900, by a choir of 500 school children at a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It was original written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and later set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson.
James Weldon Johnson was an author, educator attorney, diplomat and civil rights activist. He served from 1920-1930 as executive secretary of the NAACP.
Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning 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 ’til 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,
‘Til 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.