We thought we’d share this amazing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the black national anthem, after witnessing it being sung at the opening celebration of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
It’s a long one, and if you’ve never been taught at church or attended plenty of black cultural celebrations, you probably don’t know the lyrics.
Virginia-based group Resound performs the song, and the complete lyrics are also provided below.
The song was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson. It was first performed by 500 school children and set to music by Johnson’s brother, John Rosamond Johnson, at a celebration for President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Lift every voice and sing, Till 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 till victory is won. Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chast’ning 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 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.