Stories & Songs

arrow_back Listen

Stories & Songs access_time 07:55

Better Angels

Better Angels
Aaron Austin

Sisters brothers join your hands
For it's not the time to shrink
There's a monster in our land
And we've been too ashamed to speak
It lurks in shadows of statued men
Who chained good souls to heavy loads
And made up stories to ease the sleep
Of their slowly graying souls

Listen to the heavens strum that mystic chord
To wake our memory
We are sisters and brothers all
We are not enemies
Our histories can't be told in black and white
It's a kaleidoscope of scenes
It'll make you smile, it'll break your heart
When our better angels sing

Sisters brothers join your hands
We cannot change the past
But we can choose the path ahead
And make room for justice in this land
So dethrone the guards who’s long shadows
Abuse the the truth that lies beneath
Release those captive to prejudice
And let the truth set us all free


Sisters brothers join your hands
For it's time to be awake
Eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth
Will only tighten our chains
If Jesus came down to the old courthouse
What would be his lot
Would he find himself on the pedestal
Or would he be on the auction block


As Lexington takes important steps to preserve a more complete, truthful, and inclusive history of our city with the relocation of two confederate statues from the old courthouse square, I took some time to sit and contemplate at Cheapside, the site where these statues still stand and where one of the largest slave auctions in the South operated. As I sat just behind the statue of John Breckinridge, I watched passersby and wondered about how each of them felt walking under his patinated gaze. Especially when under my feet was ground where people were bought and sold like other goods--families torn apart. It was an uncomfortable place to sit and contemplate the wrongs that my ancestors enacted--not uncomfortable enough I'm sure. I realize I cannot make these horrendous acts or this systemic oppression right. I cannot change what has happened. But maybe I can listen more, be uncomfortable more, and open my eyes to see our complex and varied histories. We are all complicated individuals with unique perspectives. To condemn any person, no matter how heinous their acts may be, as subhuman is dangerous for all of us. Especially now, we need the gracious love of a God who welcomes all--a God who reminds us that the last will be first and the first will be last. I stole some the refrain to this song from Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” So sing better angels, sing loud.

Central Baptist Church