This week we’re using a variety of songs as aids to our prayers. Singing and praying often go hand in hand. These songs are peace themed, meant to help us pray for the peace of Jesus in our lives and in our world.
Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Isaiah 2
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Today’s song and an excerpt
Down by the Riverside, An African American Spiritual, Lyrics
“Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside (3×)
Gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside
I ain’t gonna study war no more
Study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more”
More thoughts for meditation
The timelessness of African – American Spirituals are a testimony to their brilliance. This song dates back to before the Civil War, sung by enslaved blacks in the South. It pairs the prophesy of Isaiah with baptism, and rests in promises of freedom from slavery and freedom from violence/war. It’s a veiled refusal to fight in the Civil War for the slavers, while looking towards freedom from slavery beyond the River. Historians say the “River” is seamlessly literal and metaphorical. It’s simultaneously a river of baptism, the River Jordan, and the Ohio River, beyond which the fleeing slave would find a land of freedom, It’s also the hope of the land beyond this one when Jesus returns to rule, in a land where there is no more war or violence.
Sing with the prophets and with the words of those enslaved in American South, whose songs carried more hope than any others.