A Day in History: The Black National Anthem

America has a national anthem: The Star Spangled Banner.  Even though it is treasured by African Americans, they also treasure the Black National Anthem:  Lift Every Voice and Sing.  It was originally written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 to celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  However, because it was embraced by African Americans nationwide at graduation celebrations, churches and school activities for its words and lyrics, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) adopted it as the black national anthem.  The words inspire and uplift … but … you have not seen the impact of the words until you view the video and words combined.  Click on the link at the end of the lyrics.

The Black National Anthem (1900)

Words: James Weldon Johnson
Music: John Rosamond Johnson











Rosamond Johnson, photo by Carl Van Vechten(1933)

Composer and Singer

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 faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of 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 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 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.

You must click on this link and hear this moving rendition and video of the Black National Anthem!

Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Black National Anthem)
Submitted by the BlackPast.org Staff



Shirley Harris-Slaughter
Shirley Harris-Slaughter
User Info

I remember learning this song in fourth of fifth grade. That was my introduction to it.



  1. I remember learning this song in fourth of fifth grade. That was my introduction to it.


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