taking the words of Jesus seriously

Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:23-24)

In the midst of the US presidential election of 2016, with the backdrop of a series of events fueled by racial tension and violence across America, the writers of ‘How Much Longer’ met together to write for the first time. Three sons of preachers; two black, one white.

How Much Longer was conceived and written on a former plantation near a cemetery where slaves and Confederate soldiers were buried side by side. Reflecting on the current turmoil we wrestled with two ideas:

1. How much longer will we continue to see the same kinds of divisive issues in America around race and ethnicity? How much longer will justice sleep?

2. Why do we continue to fight one another in life with such fervor even though we know that eventually, we will return to the earth? As we looked to the graveyard in the distance, we pondered whether we would only have unity and peace in death.

We concluded our session with the burden of creating a battle cry for renewal as reflected in the bridge: Come on brother, lay your weapons down, where the river of justice rolls and all oppression drowns.

Written by Art Hooker (BMI), Ben Hardesty (BMI), Courtney Orlando (ASCAP)
© 2017 Common Hymnal Digital (BMI), New Metropolitan Music (BMI), Benjo Darro Music Company (BMI), Common Hymnal Publishing (ASCAP), Theocentric Music (ASCAP) (admin by CapitolCMGPublishing.com). CCLI 7109361.

In the silence, tell me, can you hear
The voices calling out, of the disappeared?
Broken spirits, dormant dreams
How much longer will justice sleep?

C#m B
When a lawless heart is the voice we’re hearing
We need freedom

How much longer ’til we sing a new song?
How much longer ’til we sing a new song?

Hearts of saints and sinners, too
Both have walked away from the destitute
Call them back to sing as one
A song of freedom now, a song to overcome

Come on brother, lay your weapons down
Where the river of justice rolls and all oppression drowns
It flows with life, love and truth
May the old be washed away and hearts be made anew

About The Author


This world is full of believers whose voices are not being heard because they do not fit into mainstream Christian culture. Therefore, the emergence of the spiritual underground, which is buzzing with new life and innovation as a random network of misfits find each other, and a much needed place of safety. These past few years, Common Hymnal has anticipated the future of this as-yet-uncoalesced movement by building an online library to facilitate an exchange of songs, stories, and ideas. A recurring thread: praise and protest. Not only are we continually on the hunt for "hidden treasure," but, from time to time, we throw a little fuel on the fire by hosting content creation camps. Initially we add new music that we are finding to our "Unproduced" collection on SoundCloud and YouTube. As is appropriate, we curate creatives and content in one-off products for the mainstream streaming platforms, and put together "pop-up" bands for events. We share the “gems” that we are finding via this site, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Spotify Playlists, Apple Music, Pandora, podcasts, Patreon, live events, and a weekly Cyber Soiree which is streamed live on YouTube every Sunday at 8:00pm CST.

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