Learning from lyrics

By Becky Spell Vann Contributing Columnist

March 7, 2014

Are you empowered by the lyrics of special songs? I am! There are profound messages tucked within the choruses and stanzas of songs written to inspire and uplift people who sing them.

February snow storms provided some much needed “at home” time for all of us; one good friend put it in perspective — “God knew we needed to slow down and enjoy some family time!” While watching white snow create a winter wonderland outside, I cleaned out baskets and put papers, books, and other items in their proper place inside. Two song sheets were headed for the trashcan when I felt compelled to read over them. Those two songs inspired this story.

Reading the words to the stanzas, I remembered each occasion where I stood proudly and lifted my voice to sing songs full of faith, hope, and servanthood. One song, “Brother, Sister, Let Me Serve You” (The Servant Song), is a hymn we sing nearly every time I attend my sister’s church – Deep River Friends Meeting – in Greensboro. Last year, we lifted our voices together and sang this song to celebrate the mission trips of the youth in their church. Sharing the lyrics shows the power of being a servant to others as Christ would be to you and me.

“Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you; pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too. We are pilgrims on a journey; we’re together on this road. We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load. I will hold the Christ light for you in the night-time of your fear; I will share your joy and sorrow speak the peace you long to hear. I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow ‘till we’ve seen this journey through.”

This Servant Song salutes those who humbly serve their fellow man and have the grace to be served too. We are brothers and sisters on a journey. When we truly unite in Christian love, prejudice, jealousy, and division among believers will become extinct. God loves all His children and smiles when we heed the lyrics to this song. We are meant to help each other walk our miles and bear our loads. Christ is pleased when we weep, laugh, work, play, and pray together as we see our journey through. Let us not be offended or neglect serving a brother or sister, for that’s exactly what Christ would have us do.

Singing “Lift Every Voice And Sing” at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Clinton brings fond memories too. My smile widens as the snow creates a whit- out in our neighborhood. I am thankful for this day when nature creates beauty we seldom see and lyrics to this song share how God leads all His children to the light…when our songs are filled with faith, hope, and standing true to Him.

As you read the lyrics to this great hymn, embrace the truth of the message it portrays.

“Life ev’ry voice and sing, Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise high as the list’ning skies, Let it rewound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song 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 chast’ning 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 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.”

This song shares the long road to freedom with God walking with His children through the weary and wonderful times. Paying tribute to God, with a plea to keep hearts in tune and not forget Thee, foreshadow the powerful last lines, “May we forever stand, True to our God, True to our native land.”

May the meaning of these songs sink deeply into the hearts of all people; red or yellow, black or white, we are all precious in His sight! If even a tiny bit of pride or prejudice has lodged inside your heart, loosen the grip and let God clean you up and wash you whiter than snow. God loves many things about His children but there are many things He dislikes about me and you. What God hates most is when we are puffed up with pride, treating people wrong, and being stiff-necked too.

Before filing my song sheets, a picture and phrase at the bottom of one song catches my attention. The tiny picture shows six smiling children holding hands and sharing a meaningful message. They may not look alike and are not dressed the same, but they share the same love for the Lord and their land. They seem to be lifting their voices and singing, “We have a dream!” May voices from all God’s children come together in perfect harmony – Let us stay connected to one another and most of all to Thee.