guns hymns injustice songs spirituals violence

Battle Songs…

Harder yet may be the fight 
Right may often yield to might
Wickedness awhile may reign
Satan’s cause may seem to gain

There is a God that rules above 
With hand of power and heart of love
If we are right, He’ll fight our battles —
We shall have peace some day!
(Beams of Heaven, Charles Tindley)

Sometimes, it seems as if this mean old world is winning!  Though many people try to do good, it seems as if “right yields to might” far, far too often.  

How do you build the courage you will need to take on the hard fights — the good fights where the overwhelming odds are against justice?  How do you not become engulfed in cynicism? How do you stand taller than your fears that this may be the last fight in me…and I’m not winning…..?  How do you not give in to the temptation to drink the bitterness.  (You know, God can’t do anything with bitterness.)

When we are talking about our children, the senseless loss of life and potential, and the ways in which those with power are given a free pass to “shoot and ask questions later” — giving up is not an option.  

Giving up is also not an option when we are called to face the never ending flow of illegal guns into our communities.  We are being killed from within and without….


I find strength and courage in the songs of the church.  I am awed by the power of songs to give me the perspective I need to pick up the battle for one more day, and yet another day, and yet another day….

It may not seem like it, but “Beams of Heaven” is a battle song for me.  It reminds me that I am on a journey; there is a destination, for sure.  But the journey, if we are following Jesus, is characterized by wilderness, midnights, stars of hope and fights against injustice.  “But this I know, if Jesus leads me, I shall get home someday.”

When Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote a hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory” at the time when America was facing the Great Depression, an economic disaster that “drained the nation of life and hope.”  One of the lines of the hymn — “Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore,” reminds me that we cannot afford to think that any wrong doing or injustice has more power than The One who is All Powerful.  We cannot give up so easily!  God cannot be defeated — therefore, God’s children cannot retreat into safe spaces, waiting for the rough times to blow over — because injustice unopposed does not blow over. We must face the hour — but we do so with God.

Another battle song I sing was lifted first by the slaves in the American south.  They were aiming for freedom and would sometimes become discouraged. So they sang to each other:

“Stay in the field, stay in the field,
Stay in the field – until the war is ended.”

The verses of the song are directional and subversive — providing clues for survival.  I wish more of our contemporary songs provided clues for survival.

What keeps you going in the heat of the battle?

By avoiceinramah

Following The Way. Wife, Mom, Pastor, RevSisterGirlfriend, Advocate. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman. I believe another world is possible.

2 replies on “Battle Songs…”

Katherine! Yes, prayer! Prayer, Prayer, Prayer! Here's another spiritual: “I'm a rolling, I'm a rolling – I'm rolling through an unfriendly world!I'm rolling, yes, I am rolling through an unfriendly world!O, Sister won't you help me – O, Sister won't you help me to pray?O, Sister won't you help me – won't you help me in the service of the Lord….”Thanks, Sister.


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