Since I am not a sports fan, I was caught unprepared when some of my relatives complained about the blacks having their own national anthem played before the upcoming NFL season opener. I guessed the bruhaha had to do with Lift Every Voice and Sing, a beautiful hymn (#519 in the UMC Hymnal) that has a special place in the hearts of those involved in the civil rights movement. I have no problem with church songs being sung at sporting events, for Lord knows that we sure get a lot of football in church. People who don’t know the lyrics of Lift Every Voice and Sing, or the fact that it dates to 1900, might wrongly assume that this a recent protest thing.
The first line goes, “Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring. Ring with the harmonies of liberty.” The last line goes, “…may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.” Every sentiment in between is an encouragement to keep working to make this country better. Having it played before the Star-Spangled Banner is a reminder that the words, “with justice and liberty for all,” is not a done deal. There a many in our native land that need better protection under the law and equal access to basic human rights. I hope everyone will listen to it with an open mind. I personally find it inspiring.
You will find it at: https://youtu.be/ONgOH_tq7-Q