Harriet Tubman (c. 1822–1913), who escaped slavery herself, led countless other slaves to freedom through a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. As a devout Christian and a music-lover, she made hymns an integral part of the experience. Some historians suggest that the hymns were used as code, indicating safety or danger. This one, reflecting hope through trial, was one of Tubman’s favorites.
Hail, oh hail, ye happy spirits,
Death no more shall make you fear,
Grief nor sorrow, pain nor anguish,
Shall no more distress you there.
Around Him are ten thousand angels, [Revelation 5:11]
Always ready to obey command;
They are always hovering round you,
Till you reach the heavenly land.
Jesus, Jesus will go with you,
He will lead you to his throne; [Revelation 20:11]
He who died, has gone before you,
Trod the wine-press all alone. [Revelation 19:15]
He whose thunders shake creation,
He who bids the planets roll;
He who rides upon the tempest,
And whose scepter sways the whole. [Psalm 18:7–15]
Dark and thorny is the pathway,
Where the pilgrim makes his ways;
But beyond this vale of sorrow,
Lie the fields of endless days. [Revelation 21:23–25]
Look at the first part of Psalm 18. What is God angry at? What does he do? Now read the vision of final justice and comfort in today’s Bible passage from John’s Revelation. Do any images stand out? How did this vision of hope strengthen Harriet Tubman for her work of bringing people into physical and spiritual freedom?