Monday, January 24, 2011

A Litany of Remembrance, Lament, and Hope

This litany, written by Jane Redmont, one of your friendly blog keepers, was first used at the diocesan conference "Traces of Our Trade" a little over two years ago. During that day of reflection, the film "Traces of the Trade" was the focus of discussion for half the day and diocesan racial history and local work in racial reconciliation was the focus for the other half.

We are honored that the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina used a substantial portion of this litany its liturgy of repentance for slavery and its aftermath this past week, at the Annual Convention of the diocese.

We reproduce the original litany in its entirety here for your use. Please credit the author and if you adapt or change either the wording or the format of the litany, indicate that you have done so. (If you would like a formatted Word document version sent to you as an electronic attachment, write janeredmont (at) world (dot) oberlin (dot) edu .) May the God of mercy, justice, and reconciliation move us toward healing together.

A Litany of Remembrance, Lament, and Hope

The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

Jane Carol Redmont
September 6, 2008 [1]

ALL:i***Lord, you have been our refuge
********from one generation to another.

******* Before the mountains were brought forth,
******* or the land and the earth were born,
******* ******from age to age you are God. [2]

ONE:***Wondrous, eternal God, Creator of heaven and earth,
ALL:****Have mercy on us.

ONE:***Christ Jesus our brother, Savior of the world,
ALL:****Have mercy on us.

ONE:***Holy Spirit, Comforter and Advocate,
ALL:****Have mercy on us.

ONE:***Holy Trinity, one God,
ALL:****Have mercy on us.

We remember

ONE:***We begin in holy silence.


ALL:***We dwell today on common ground.
*******Together we remember.

1st HALF:***We remember that this land was not empty.
*************The peoples who walked this land
*************before the settlers came
*************loved the land and its waters and skies.

ALL:****We remember.

ONE:***Save us, Lord, from the loss of memory.

ALL:****Teach us to remember.
******** Teach us to listen.
******** We remember.

2d HALF:****We remember that human beings owned
*************other human beings
*************with power over them
*************of life and death.

ONE:***Spirit of truth,
********Holy Comforter,
********Open our hearts.

ALL: ***Teach us to remember.
********Teach us to listen.
********Save us
********from forgetting.

2d HALF:***We remember those who worked in fields and houses
************from dawn to dusk
************and who, at night, after the light was gone
************gathered at the risk of their lives
************to praise and pray
************and sorrow and hope.
************We remember their radiant darkness. [3]

ALL:*** God of our mothers and fathers,
********let us not forget
********the ancestors
********even if we do not
********know their names.

1st HALF:***We remember those who owned the houses and the fields.
*************We remember those who bought and sold
*************children and women and men.
*************We remember the ancestors.

ALL:*** Teach us to remember.
********Teach us to listen.
********Save us
********from forgetting.

ONE:***Remembering is painful.
********Memory is hard.
********Memory is holy.

ALL:****Be with us, God of memory and of hope.

We lament

ALL:****O, Lord, I call to you;
********my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry;
********lest, if you do not hear me,
********I become like those who go down to the Pit. [4]

1st HALF:***We are weary of crying.
************We have cried to you night and day.

2d HALF:*** In the deep, heavy darkness of the foul-smelling hold
************of the ship, where they
could not see the sky,
************nor hear the night noises, nor feel the warm
************compassion of the tribe, they held their breath
************against the agony.

****************How does the human spirit accommodate itself
************to desolation? How did they? What tools of the spirit
************were in their hands with which to cut a path
************through the wilderness of despair?

1st HALF:*** We do not know how to cry.
************Grieving is hard.
************We feel shame.
************Why do we have to remember?

ALL:****Teach us to weep, Compassionate One,
********Turn our hearts of stone
********to hearts of flesh.
********Open our eyes
********that we may see.

2d HALF: ****We meant well.
*************We thought we were doing God’s will.
*************We did not see
**********)**the face of God in each other. [6]

ALL:****Forgive us, Merciful One.

1st HALF:***Awake, O Lord! why are you sleeping?
************Arise! do not reject us for ever.

2d HALF:***Why have you hidden your face
************and forgotten our affliction and oppression?

1st HALF: ***We sink down into the dust;
*************our body cleaves to the ground.

2d HALF:***Rise up, and help us,
********** *and save us, for the sake of your steadfast love. [7]

ONE:*** Be with us, God of tears,
********You who have known suffering
********within your very self.

ALL:** Teach us to weep.
*******teach us to see and hear
*******each other’s tears.

1st HALF:** We are one people,
***********formed in God’s image.

2d HALF:** We are divided
***********by our past
***********by our present
***********by our fears
***********by our wounds
***********by our silences.

1st HALF:**We are one people.

2d HALF: **We struggle
***********to be one.

ALL:****Help us
********to see the face of God
********in one another.

********Make of us
********your holy people.

********Through our baptism
********into Christ’s death and resurrection,
********may we live justice;
********may we find hope.

ONE:***Christ Jesus, stay with us.

ALL:****Spirit of the living God,
********Help us to live.

ONE:***Teach us to weep.

ALL:****Help us to dry one another’s tears.

We hope

ALL:****Here are my servants, whom I uphold
(+******my chosen ones, in whom my soul delights
********I have put my spirit upon them:
******** they will bring forth justice to the nations. [8]

1st HALF: * ** Thus says God, the Lord,
*************who created the heavens and stretched them out,
*************who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
*************who gives breath to the people upon it
*************and spirit to those who walk in it;
*************I am the Lord,
*************I have called you in righteousness,
*************I have taken you by the hand and kept you;

2d HALF:* *** I have given you as a covenant to the people,
**************a light to the nations,
**************open the eyes that are blind,
**************to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
**************from the prison those who sit in darkness. [9]

ONE:** We live on common ground.

ALL:***We share one covenant of baptism,
**** ***one bread of life,
******* one cup of salvation.

ONE:***Christ Jesus, stay with us.

ALL:****Spirit of the living God,
********Help us to live together.

1st HALF:***We live in struggle.

2d HALF:***We live in hope.

ALL:* **Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
*(******Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my
********If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
********But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

1st HALF:** I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in God’s word
****************do I hope.

*********** My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch
*************** for the morning:

*********** I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

2d HALF:***Let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy,
****************and with God
is plenteous redemption.
*********** And God shall redeem Israel from all our iniquities. [10]

ONE:***We move, slowly,
********into holy friendship.

ALL:****Help us to live
** *****as friends of Jesus.

1st HALF:*** On common ground, on this land
************ we live together.

2d HALF:** * On this land,
************ we welcome in Christ’s name
************ new friends.

1st HALF:*** They bring the riches of faith
************ and the memories of ancestors
************ from other lands.

ALL:*** We live as friends of Jesus
**** *** and friends of all God’s people.

2d HALF:****On common ground, on this land,
**** ******** We break bread.

ALL:***Reconcile us, O God of mercy.
*******Teach us your way.

1st HALF: ** *When we stumble,
*************help others to forgive us.

2d HALF:**** When we are broken
************* teach others to bind our wounds.

ALL:****Christ Jesus,
**** ****Let us fear neither the truth
**** ****nor each other.

ONE:******** And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold,
******** *** the dwelling of God
is with people, and God will dwell
************with them, and they shall be God’s people

************and God’s very self shall be with them, and be their God.

ALL:*************And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
************and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
************neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things
****** ***** are all passed away.

[1] Composed for the “Traces of Our Trade” conference of September 6, 2008 (Hillsborough, NC). Permission subsequently granted by the author to Dain and Constance Perry to use the litany at any of their workshops related to the “Traces of the Trade” film and to their work for racial justice and reconciliation.

[2] Psalm 90:1-2, BCP

[3] Taken from Vincent Harding’s “Toward a Darkly Radiant Vision of America’s Truth.”

[4] Psalm 28, BCP.

[5] Howard Thurman, “On Viewing the Coast of Africa.”

[6] “Seeing the Face of God in Each Other,” The Episcopal Church.

[7] Psalm 44, BCP

[8] Isaiah 42:1, NRSV, adapted.

[9] Isaiah 42:5-7, NRSV.

[10] Psalm 130, KJV. Verses 7-8 adapted.

[11] Revelation 21:3-5a, KJV (first verse slightly adapted).

(c) Jane C. Redmont

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Jane!
Kim Hudson