The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple statement: “Let freedom ring!” What is meant by this statement? Why has it been ringing in my mind for days? What message do you get from “Let freedom ring”?
The phrase “let freedom ring” is found in the first verse of our patriotic hymn, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee (Hymns, 339). Most Americans have sung this hymn; most of us love it.
My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims’ pride, From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
“Let freedom ring” was also part of the “I have a dream” speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. After quoting the above verse of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” Reverend King stated, “And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, … from the mighty mountains of New York, … from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, … from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado, … from the curvaceous slopes of California.
“But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia, … from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee, from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, … From every mountainside, let freedom ring….”
Bill Gaither wrote lyrics to a song entitled “Let Freedom Ring” including:
Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key.
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring.
Gaither wrote the story behind “Let Freedom Ring.” It began with a news story about a young African-American police officer going to work and coming face to face with associated dressed as the Ku Klux Klan. The experience was apparently supposed to be funny, but its effect on the police officer was not at all funny.
“`I was terrified on the inside, but all I could think to do was smile,’ he answered. `When I got home, I sobbed like a child.'
“Later the offenders, fearing reprisals and wanting to take back the photos they gave him, threatened the officer.
“As I watched this young man trying to process such a deep and ugly violation by those he thought he knew, by those who served with him day by day under an oath to uphold justice, I felt powerful emotions rise within me. I felt anger at the indignity and at the violation of so many of the codes that hold any decent society together. I felt deep sadness at the breaking of the human spirit and the robbery of the self-respect of a fellow human being. I felt brokenness in my soul as I saw his pain and realized that all of us are capable of hurting each other deeply."
Gaither discussed how every person longs to be free – from a toddler struggling for release from a parent’s arms to people living in chains, behind iron bars, or even great walls. He then described real freedom
“Down through history, dictators and philosophies have attempted to enslave the human spirit. Blood has flowed like rivers in the fight to regain human dignity. The Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation have taken their places with other great instruments of liberation to testify to the human passion for freedom. The official seals of governments were burned onto these documents that have deeply affected our own way of life. But never has a document of freedom had the power to alter the course of history and change human lives like the declaration bearing the bloodstained brand of the Cross. And this seal is burned not on a piece of paper but on the very souls of all who were enslaved by sin. The document is a simple invitation: `Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28).
“Prison bars, heavy chains, dungeons, concentration camps, and shackles: none of these can hold a candle to the bondage of the human soul devised by the father of lies. But no release, no emancipation, no pardon can bring freedom like that bought at Calvary. That is freedom indeed! Let freedom ring!”
What does the phrase “let freedom ring” mean to you? Maybe we should all be singing "let freedom ring"!