“Why have you forsaken me?” These are the words Jesus cried out from the cross, quoting from Psalm 22:1. The song, “Forsaken, ”written by the love-and-justice-focused worship band, The Many, came out of these words from scripture and from the heart-breaking injustice in our country and our world.
As this powerful lyric video reminds us, “Why have you forsaken me?” are also words that we can hear echoes of in George Floyd’s words, “I can’t breathe,” as he called out for his mama while a white police officer kept his knee on his neck for almost 9 minutes. These are words that could have been spoken by Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castille, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin and so many others in the last few years.
“Forsaken” is a song of lament, a part of the ancient tradition of lament – not only something the Psalmists and the prophets practiced, it was something Jesus understood as well. “Blessed are those who weep,” Jesus said. Blessed.
Yet, even though it is a crucial part of the Biblical tradition, lament is not something we always make space for these days in our personal lives or in our churches. So, this song also serves as a reminder to us all of the power of lament. The power of bearing witness and not averting our gaze, instead crying out to God and to anyone who’ll listen, “This is not right. This cannot stand.” Lament is a form of protest and resistance to anything that destroys life.
“Justice begins in tears,” The Many’s lyricist Lenora Rand, who also co-directs the worship renewal group, The Plural Guild, says. “Until we allow ourselves to really see and hear and feel what’s wrong, we are rarely willing to make the sacrifices it takes to do what’s right.”
Band member Darren Calhoun, who’s also a worship pastor, justice advocate, and a part of Evangelicals for Social Action adds, “Every time I sing the words, ‘Why have you forsaken us? Where have you gone?’ I think: ‘What could happen if every church in America could really hear this song, and would cry together about the racial injustice in this country and see their own part in the pain and suffering that racism has caused? What could happen?’ Because it’s time to mourn. And it’s time for change. It’s way past time.”