Lift Every Voice and Sing 

Many people are suprised to learn that "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was first written as a poem. Created by James Weldon Johnson, it was performed for the first time by 500 school children in celebration of President Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville, FL. The poem was set to music by Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, and soon adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as its official song. Today “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is one of the most cherished songs of the African American Civil Rights Movement and is often referred to as the Black National Anthem. 

Read the lyrics from "Lift Every Voice and Sing" below. 

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing: Black National Anthem

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing: Black National Anthem

The Isaac Sisters perform The Black National Anthem

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing: Hip Hop Rendition

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing: Hip Hop Rendition

Doughboy the Midwest Maestro and DJ Kool Rod mash up the black national anthem.

LYRICS

Lift Every Voice and Sing
By James Weldon Johnson


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 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 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 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. 

EXPLORE Banners_grey_More2Explore.png
Browse and Explore

Browse and Explore

We've searched high and low to bring you a suite of topic-driven collections.

Support for pbs.org

Learn more about PBS sponsorship

    Stay Connected! Find us on:

   Follow us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YoutubeFollow us on Google+