Archive for the ‘In honor of’ Category

Michael Brown’s Body (or: Peace, but not quiet)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

I wrote this song in honor of Michael Brown for possible use during the protest in Ferguson, if they want it. It’s sung to the the tune of John Brown’s Body, and attempts to capture the non-violent demand for truth and justice that President Obama, Rev. Sharpton, and Michael’s parents have called for. I had two ideas for the refrain. Option 1 is the standard line (“His truth is marching on”), followed by a spoken (or shouted) “with us” added in a call-and-response format. That signifies that we must march in protest for Michael Brown’s truth to win out, and to prevent killings like that in the future. Option 2, if you don’t like the call-and-response format, is to just sing “We’re marching for the truth.” Or, you can do a combination. If you just want to use part of the song, that’s fine too. If the song is performed, the refrain is meant to be sung by the crowd. God bless.

 

In honor of Michael Brown, and with my sincere condolences to his family.

 

“We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.” – President Obama

“To become violent in Michael Brown’s name is to betray the gentle giant that he was…There are those that are saying ‘peace’ but they really just mean quiet. Because in order to establish peace, you must have fair justice for everyone. We want real peace, we don’t just want to be told to shut up and suffer in silence. We must have answers and then use those answers to guide us toward peace.” – Rev. Al Sharpton this morning in Ferguson

 

Michael Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.

He held up his hands and said “don’t shoot” to try his life to save.

A man who can be killed at will is really still a slave.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

All who knew him were by Michael’s constant kindness charmed.

He was walking down the street that day, peaceful and unarmed,

The policeman could’ve talked to him, and no one would be harmed.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

He was walking down the street that day, not bothering anyone,

Accosted for no cause by a policeman with a gun.

He shot Michael from the car, and more when he began to run.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

Michael stopped and then he put his hands above his head.

The policeman could’ve stopped then, but what did he do instead:

He shot and shot eight times until poor Michael Brown was dead.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

Michael Brown was wounded and he fell down to his knees,

His hands still raised above his head, the testimony agrees.

The policeman kept on firing, killing him with ease.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

Was it the officer or Michael who was guilty of attack?

Did he really have to shoot poor Michael in the back?

Was the officer threatened, or was Michael Brown just Black.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

That fateful day should not have ended in fatality,

Yet another sample of police brutality.

Now make a peaceful call for justice and morality.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

Michael Brown was just a gentle giant and a kid.

He was shot for how he looked and not for anything he did.

It’s up to us to act and future violence forbid.

We’re marching for the truth.

 

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on…with us.

***

Here‘s your theme music, John Brown’s Body (see the lyrics below) from the CD A Treasury of Civil War Songs. If anyone out there wants to re-record this with my lyrics, please do so and leave a comment for me below with the link, then I’ll put it up.

Here‘s Rachel’s 8/11/14 report. Note that instead of being vindictive, Michael Brown’s mother is calling for an end to the rioting and violence.

Here‘s Rev. Al’s 8/12/14 report, including eye witness testimony from Dorian Johnson, Michael’s friend, who was with him when the shooting took place, and a call for non-violence by Rev. Al and Michael’s father.


John Brown’s Body by William Patton and Julia Ward Howe

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,

While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;

But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,

His soul is marching on.

 

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,

And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;

Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,

His soul is marching on.

 

He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,

And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;

They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew,

But his soul is marching on.

 

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,

Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,

And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,

For his soul is marching on.

 

The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,

On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.

And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,

For his soul is marching on.

 

Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,

The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,

For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,

And his soul is marching on.

 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,

He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

 

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps

His day is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

 

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel,

“As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;”

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel

Since God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

 

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

 

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

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