As I was listening to Dr. Lowery’s benediction, I couldn’t help tweeting about how smitten I was with his understated delivery. Rather than placing a surging emphasis on each word, he expressed a quiet dignity with a wry smile and a confident pause. There’s something to be learned by his choice of opening words from the historic anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” his use of humor and, perhaps more importantly, his subtle call-and-response that cleaved people to one another as fellow humans rather than distant observers.

I immediately scoured the scoured the Web looking for a transcript and finally found one by the Federal News Service to complement the video of his speech:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen —


REV. LOWERY: — and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

What did you think? What did you think of Rev. Warren’s words? Let’s discuss.

Share Your Reflection



Not only does he start with words from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” i hear the ending (before the amens) is a riff on Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown, and White."

"They says if you was white, should be all right
If you was brown, stick around
But as you’s black, m-mm brother, git back, git back, git back"

Reverend Lowry's prayer reminds us, in its human understanding, that persons of color have born
our pain for centuries....and that out of that suffering has come a wisdom and acceptance
and a sometime- triumph that strengthens our souls. That is, if we allow ourselves to know and
embrace that experience.

He brought up history old and new with language and texts (lyrics), which was in perfect rhythm with the inauguration speech. How many people do this think responded to his call? Doesn't that in itself embody what the inauguration was about? We as a nation needed this to be fresh. It was brilliantly so.

Three days later, I am still touched, deeply, by The Reverend Lowery's benediction. May his words resonate in me and in all of us, three months, three years, three decades from that day. His is another voice which is calling all of us to get back on the path.


Wonderful, real benediction. The crowd in my living room was shouting Amen right along with everyone else.

And what a incredible contrast to the dismal invocation that preceeded it. Thank God for Dr. Lowry...and God forgive Dr. Warren.

I was embarrassed and dismayed by Dr. Warren's invocation. Absolutely dismayed.

An invocation is supposed to be a public prayer that invokes God's presence. It is supposed to pull the hearts and minds of those present together so that they can experience God's presence. Dr. Warren's words didn't even come close to accomplishing that.

Dr. Warren's words were nothing more or less than a sermon which was disguised as a prayer. His words were exclusive and excluding. His tone was condescending. As a Christian, and as a Christian clergy, I was embarrassed and even angered by his words.

This is the main reason I was unhappy with the tranistion team choosing him to give the invocation. I was afraid that he would do exactly what he did. I hoped he wouldn't... but I was unhappily correct in my fears.

Thank God, again, for Dr. Lowry. Left us with a true "good word."

Our beloved, Reverend Lowery ( many younger people who made smart remarks.) not know him. But, he did lift our hearts and voices and it often happens...he cleaned up after the Rev. Warren spoke...and now we have to help our new President Obama...clean up!

Great! Wonderfully full of love, and humor, and touching on the reality of our time. In contrast his prayer and his rhythmic delivery made Rick Warren sound like a rookie preacher.

I appreciated the poetry and imagery of his words except for his closing paragraph jn which he prays for a day when 'white will embrace what is right'. Considering the fact that these words were spoken at the benediction of an African American President made them superfluous.