Through the night of doubt and sorrow,
onward goes the pilgrim band,
singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
Clear before us through the darkness
gleams and burns the guiding light;
pilgrim clasps the hand of pilgrim
stepping fearless through the night.
One the light of God's own presence
on the ransomed people shed,
chasing far the gloom and terror,
bright'ning all the path we tread.
One the object of our journey,
one the faith which never tires,
one the earnest looking forward,
one the hope our God inspires.
One the strain that lips of thousands
lift as from the heart of one;
one the conflict, one the peril,
one the march in God begun.
One the gladness of rejoicing
on the far eternal shore,
where the one almighty Father
reigns in love forevermore.
Onward, therefore, sisters, brothers;
onward, with the cross our aid.
Bear its shame, and fight its battle
till we rest beneath its shade.
Soon shall come the great awak'ning;
soon the rending of the tomb!
Then the scatt'ring of all shadows,
and the end of toil and gloom.
On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech
at the Church of God in Christ headquarters in Memphis
entitled, "I've Been to the Mountaintop." In spite of
numerous threats to his life, King talked passionately
about the plight of sanitation workers with confidence
and clarity. In the speech, he framed history as an
ongoing march to the promised land. It is almost as if
King believed that God's promised future and humanity's
difficult past were marching toward each other and
getting ready to embrace. King died the day after his
speech on April 4, 1968.
How could King sing "songs of expectation" amidst his
night of "doubt and sorrow?" He possessed "the hope
our God inspires." He was marching to the Promised Land,
clasping the hands of his brother knowing that he was
not alone. Do you need to be reminded of God's future of
peace and justice for all? Rest in the promises of the One
who is our guiding light. Clasp the hands of your brother
Jesus as you journey toward "the far eternal shore."
God of Promise, we see dimly, you see clearly. Give us your
eyes. We listen poorly, you listen attentively. Give us your ears.
We love selfishly, you love richly. Give us your heart. Amen.