Music and Words are Powerful Things

Imagine yourself a slave in the Deep South, struggling to survive, struggling to work hard enough to avoid the driver’s lash, then you hear it. A lone voice begins to sing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” To an outsider, the slaves are just singing to keep their spirits up, but you recognize the signal. Tonight will be your chance to escape. A conductor for the Underground Railroad is nearby. The hidden message in the song has told you that. You feel your spirits rise, your courage strengthen.

Now imagine you are on a long, hard march. You are bone-weary, foot-sore. You have been knocked down by the force of firehoses turned on you and the marchers around you. You have seen people next to you beaten with billy clubs. You don’t know if you can go on. Then someone starts singing softly. “We shall overcome…” One by one the people around you join in the song, as do you. You feel your spirits rise, your courage strengthen. Deep in your heart, you do believe that we shall overcome some day.

Music is a powerful thing.

Words are powerful, too. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can still stir our hearts in 2012 as they stirred the hearts and resolve of people fifty years ago. Imagine being in the auditorium on April 3, 1968, the day before Dr. King was killed, and hearing him speak these words. May they empower us today, as we remember Dr. King, and every day, to ensure that we shall overcome, and we, together, will reach the promised land.

Writing can have power as well. Power to heal, power to educate, power to make aware. Beverley Brenna’s book, Waiting for No One, has the power to raise our awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome. Comments on today’s post will be entered into Thursday’s draw for a copy of Bev’s book.


  1. As a teacher and influencer of young people, I have a deep awe and respect in the power of words!

    1. Yes, I’m sure you do. I also know your own writing has power and will have more of an influence as more and more people read it.

  2. My son and I were just talking about the power of music yesterday! There’s no doubt, music and words, in pretty much any form, are deeply moving. Thanks for a wonderful post!

    1. Thank you.

      Mum used to often quote, “I’ll sing, not cry.” — Music can help us through our deepest emotions.

  3. Wonderful post!

  4. Well done, Beth. I’m glad I came by to visit your blog today during the comment challenge. A very timely review feature in honor of the day.

    1. Thank you, Bill. I’m glad you visited today, too. I hope you’ll consider visiting another day — and now I’ll check out your blog!

  5. Beautiful post Beth! I like that so many of us approached MLK Day from a different angle. The power of music — the power of words. “We will over come…” Love the video clip, it is a favorite of mine. Sorry I was late in responding, but am on my way out of two for a few days.

    1. Thanks, Pat. I’m glad the post was meaningful for you. See you when you get home!

  6. I appreciate your focus on the past to the present connection. I like your setting usage at the beginning of the post. The music connected in beautifully. Thanks for the unique combination.

    1. Thank you, Mary Helen! And thank you for visiting.

  7. Awesome post, Beth. My daughter recently did a project on Negro Spirituals, so your opening lines really resonated. Thank God for the power of words to change hearts and to heal, and thank God for the people with the courage to speak them.

    1. Thank you, Susan. Your closing sentence is so moving and profound.

  8. Beth, I wasn’t able to read this on Monday, but listened to this speech on a radio broadcast. Such powerful words.

    1. That speech gives me chills, especially knowing how prophetic those words were. It’s eery, but so inspiring.

  9. […] Words and Music are Powerful Things […]

  10. Marvelous, powerful…wow!
    What a magnificent world this could be!

    1. Indeed it could, Robin! (((((hugs back)))))

  11. [this is good] Yes, they are such powerful things! Too often, both of them are taken for granted. I like the great reminders that keep us in line 😀

    1. Thanks for the tig, Cap’n Stephel!

      Powerful things, indeed.

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