Davidson, NC

St. Alban's Episcopal Church

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Music Notes from John Bailey

Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on February 13, 2023 at 3:25 PM

With Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent approaching, we often think of journeys: Israel’s 40-year journey through the wilderness; Jesus’ 40-day journey through the wilderness and, hopefully, our own journey through the season of Lent. Although arriving at one’s destination is certainly a reward in itself, there is so much to see and learn along the way to that destination. Yes, we are most thankful that when Easter Day finally arrives, we can give thanks for Christ’s resurrection and the gift of eternal life that is now possible for the redeemed. However, there is much we can learn through this season of Lent that deepens our understanding of all that has been won for us in Christ. Israel’s struggles in the wilderness and Jesus facing Satan’s temptations mirror the questions we all face in our life’s journey: Will my faith be enough? Will God really provide what he has promised.

As we struggle to understand our own(sometimes painful) journey, it is helpful and enlightening to attempt to understand the journey that others have experienced. In Matthew 9 scripture says that as Jesus moved through the crowds he was ‘’moved with compassion”. What was it in Jesus that caused him to be “moved with compassion”: simply his being the Son of God, an innate sense of human empathy, or both? Although we cannot fully understand the pain and trials of another person, it is possible to be open to the Holy Spirit’s unction to be open and empathetic to a pain that you yourself may not have experienced. February is Black History month and I’d like to share the lyrics of a song that describes some of the pain, injustice and hopes of those whose journey may be quite unlike our own. The words to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” were written by NAACP leader James W. Johnson in 1900. His brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, set the poem to music and it was first performed in Jacksonville, Fl. To celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. As we read these words may we begin our Lenten journey with humility, compassion and a deep desire to strive for justice.



Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring, ring with 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 parents 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.


Words and Music: © 1921 Edward B. Marks Music.


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