“My angel, His name is Freedom”

It’s a bad day when I hear a headline on NPR at around 5:45 and get out of bed to read twitter. A day of FB and twitter rolls and head-wagging disbelief and sorrow — I’m sure you all were there, too, in one way or another. I sewed. I stumbled around. And then I went to Boston to hear music.
I was there because my beautiful niece was performing — she’s a member of the Handel & Haydn Youth Choir. And the tickets were free. And, since she recently graduated from high school, this may be her last local performance. But then, almost in answer to the day’s horror, a piece composed in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Society made its premiere. Title: “My Angel, His Name is Freedom.” It was a haunting composition.  Written by Gabriela Lena Frank (who was there) and set to voices singing “the most compelling lines of ‘Boston Hymn’, a poetic sermon by Ralph Waldo Emerson on attaining freedom from false masters”, it was a timely performance. Here are the lyrics:

The word of the Lord (Lo!)
by night, by the seaside (Lo!):
“I am tired of kings,”
(Lo now!)
“I suffer them no more,”
(Lo now!)
Tyrants great and tyrants small.”

The word of the Lord (Lo!)
in dark, in the daylight (Lo!):
“I will never have a noble!”
(Lo now!)
“I break your bonds.”
(Lo now!)
“I unchain the slave.”

“My angel, his name is Freedom.
Choose him to be your king.
Call the people together.
Choose men to rule.
None shall rule but the humble.
Govern the land and sea.
Make just laws under the sun.
Beware from right to swerve.
Carry my purpose forth
which neither halts nor shakes.
Life up a people from the dust.
Trump of their rescue, sound!”

“My will fulfilled shall be.
My thunderbolt has eyes to see
his way home to the mark.”
Lo now!

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I pray for Charleston. I pray for blacks everywhere in this country. I pray for the healing of the great wound of slavery (the one Jon Stewart expects us to do ‘jack shit about’). I pray for the families who lost a loved one. I pray for the congregation of the Emanuel AME.