1 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.
2 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 people 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.
3 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.
The spirit and motivation of this song is found in Psalms 126 and 137. The historical references that stir this song might be the Exodus from Egypt (cf. Exodus 15), the return from Exile (see Nehemiah 9), or any time of testing and trial that is answered with God’s mercy.
In stanza 2, the “chastening rod” can be referenced in Hebrews 12:4-13.
When stanza 3 warns about the danger of becoming “drunk with the wine of this world”, we might think of Deuteronomy 8:10-20 and I John 2:15-17.
The journey of the Israelites through the wilderness is a picture of God’s children as pilgrims on a long and sometimes difficult journey. Yet, through everything God has a plan, which is revealed in the unfolding of the covenant. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 33 testifies about a “story of God’s mighty acts in the unfolding of covenant history.” This unfolding of the covenant plan is a testimony, according to Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 18, of “the long road of redemption” for the Israelites and for God’s children living today.