News & EventsBishop Challenges Diocese to "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
"Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing," is a song of faith, perseverance, and determination in the face of racial and social injustice.
To commemorate the 120th anniversary of its publication on Feb. 12, Bishop William H. (Chip) Stokes is challenging all congregations to perform the hymn in at least one of their services between now and Feb. 23."How about it, congregations in the Diocese of New Jersey?" the Bishop wrote in a Facebook post on Feb. 13. "Will 120 of you commit to including “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (Hymnal 1982 #599 and LEVAS #1) in your worship service this Sunday or on Sunday, February 23 in celebration of its 120th Anniversary? It would be a wonderful tribute to Black History Month."
James Weldon Johnson and his brother, Rosamond Johnson, originally intended the work to be a celebration of the life of Abraham Lincoln. As it evolved during the Jim Crowe era of racial oppression, it became something more: a song that gave voice to the spirituality and the strength of the African-American community.
In 1919, the NAACP named "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" as its official song and it held a prominent place throughout the civil rights movement. It's been performed by greats like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, and the song holds a pre-eminent place in American culture.
Read more about the history and lasting impact of the song in this article from TheCrisis Magazine.
When your congregation performs the song, let the rest of the Diocese know. Share information, photos and video here. Post to social media, and tag #DioceseofNJ.