Psalm 44: Response
Shaunesse Ariella Jacobs
Voice Before: Slaves fighting for freedom in the South during the Civil War (verses 1-9)
- With Your hand You planted them, displacing nations; Your brought misfortune on peoples, and drove them out.
God! We done heared of the Sojourner’s and Harriet’s, and how You done planted ‘em in the Nawth where freedom at. You done brought down misfortune on they’s marses so they could live ‘em some freed lives. We know You gon’ drive out all dem slave marses and brang freedom to all uh Yo’ peoples!
- It was not by their sword that they took the land, their arm did not give them victory, but Your right hand, Your arm, and Your goodwill, for You favored them.
Now You don’ favored sum our ancestors to ‘scape the dread of beatin’s and death, the scawching’ heat and slavin’ for no reward in aw’dah to see the lights of freedom’s vict’ry. Yo’ hand wen’ on and guided ‘em from the evils of the plantation.
- You are my king, O God; decree victories for Jacob!
Dear Lawd, now You know You’s our kang. And You know we heh standin’ in the need of Yo’ ‘bundant strength. Lawd please be with us and give us vict’ry like You did You chilluhn in the Bible. We don’ seen what You kin do and we need You to do the same for us heh.
Voice After: African Americans facing the institution of Jim Crow laws in the South in 1877 after Reconstruction (verses 10-27)
- You make us retreat before our foe; our enemies plunder us at will.
We don’ don all that prayin’ and sangin’ to still be slaves. Now the Nawth don’ gon’ and won da war, and we stuck down heh with this damn Jim Crow and seg’a’gation. The South still winnin’ cuz we ain’ really free! All that fightin’ and loss a’life for the South to have us sheh-croppin’ and stayin’ po’. God, now some ain’t go right cuz You ain’ do nun a’da thangs we prayed about!
- You make us a curse word among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
Ev’ebody ‘roun’ the worl’ lookin’ at us fightin’ for freedom and then we ain’t even got it! They’s laffin’ at us an’ we stuck heh in de South still slavin’ for white folk. Lawd Jesus, how You gwoin make us de butt uh all the jokes ‘round the worl’. And the whites sholl laffin’ cuz we thought we’s free and we ain’ no closuh to freedom dan we was when we started fightin’.
- It is for Your sake that we are killed all day long, that we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Lawd You know ev’ethang, e’en the number uh all dem souls dat don’ gon’ on to be wit’ Ya. You sat deh and watched us bein’ killed off for yeh’s. They don’ slaughtered us like sheep. The war wen’ on too long, and we ben slaves too long. And we still havin’ faith and such Jesus!
- Why do You hide Your face, ignoring our affliction and distress?
I know what dis man sayin’ in this heh psalm. You don’ turned Yo’ face from us don heh and ignored our ‘ffliction. You ackin lack You didn’ see us bein’ beat for yeh’s, then fight in a war that ain’ give us no rights, then still get stuck heh in the South to be legal slaves with no p’otection. Now Lawd, You know this ain’ right! When You gon’ do som’thin? When You gon’ stop these white folk from beatin’ us and keepin’ us held down? When You go look on our sit’ation and stop this foolishness?!
- Arise and help us, redeem us, as befits Your faithfulness.
Come on now Lawd Jesus! We ben waitin’ too long, and we ain’ waitin’ no mo’! You need to git up from heh and do som’thin for us! You don’ said if we was faithful to You, You was gwine be faithful to us. It’s time to show us sum’a dat faithfulness! We don’ ben in the stawm too long now! We s’posed to be free! We s’posed to have rights! We s’posed to be equals. We ain’ laying down takin’ this no mo’! Git up Lawd!