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


Common Hymnal has been working these past few years to create something special. As today’s generation engages less and less in the ‘overground’ church, we have been investing in the spiritual underground, building out a virtual library to facilitate a vibrant and ongoing exchange of songs, stories and ideas between the various communities in this space. We have treasure-hunted the uttermost extremities of the faith to stock this library with quality content, steering clear of cliches and spiritual fads in an effort to contribute meaningfully to a culture that values thoughtfulness and honesty. A growing realization: you get a much better view of the the future when you spend time at the margins. A growing hope: the transformation that happens when God’s people grab a hold of the future and drag it into the present. In the underground, praise and protest are inextricably intertwined. Spirituality is not escapist or dualist: it is real, integrated, and has a social conscience. Spiritual colonization is taboo. Likewise with this hymnal. We would like to see the seamless worship set replaced by a more democratized ritual that includes more art forms, a broader range of subject matter and a gutsy honesty. A kind way of saying: 'No more cliches! No more karaoke!' We are purposefully not pursuing a footprint in the current CCM/worship sub-culture, but are working, slowly and carefully, to coalesce a new demographic, serious Christ followers who find themselves on the outskirts as a result of not fully connecting with mainstream Christian culture. Therefore, we have been building out a Discord community (as part of our Patreon) to kill several birds with one stone: coalesce the uncoalesced into a new ecosystem; provide opportunity for underground creatives to meet, learn and collaborate; give underground activists backstage access to our content creation and internal communications; and realize some financial support.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
    Check which Newsletter(s) you'd like to receive:    

You have Successfully Subscribed!