As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, some of us are still in lockdown, some are beginning to see an easing of restrictions, but all of us can look forward to a near future significantly different to what we’re used to.
So, we’ve been choosing a few songs to reflect on, maybe to lift our spirits a bit as things progress.
This week’s song is Jessie Mae Hemphill’s – Lord, Help the Poor And Needy, first released in 1990, and then covered by Cat Power, Tom Jones and Shemekia Copeland.
Lord Help the Poor and needy
In this land
Oh Lord Help the Poor and needy
In this land.
It’s a good reminder of the suffering that the coronavirus has caused. Some of us have lost loved ones, some of us may have been ill, some of us have been hit financially.
But the people hit worst have been those living in poverty, both on our own doorsteps, but especially in the developing world.
I think of India, where my wife works, helping desperately poor children. Here millions of people make their homes in slum communities, living cheek by jowl, with families crowded into small shacks, and they have no possibility of social distancing.
And poor people who work in the homes of the wealthy now have no means of earning money – we’ve had first hand reports of people on the brink of starvation and who are much more concerned about that than catching the virus. And there are millions of migrant workers who suddenly lost their jobs because of the lockdown who have been stranded, penniless, with no shelter and no way of getting home. (Check out this Guardian story)
The same desperate picture is repeated in many other parts of the world. For many of us, sheltering during the lockdown has been, let’s face it, no real hardship. We’ve decent homes, have plenty to eat, and are spoilt for choice for entertainment. We can manage.
Yet still you hear people grumbling about their situation. Conspiracy theories are rife, and if only we could get back to the Mall, we could put our dreadfully restricted lockdown lives behind us. (Check out this disturbing piece from the Washington Post).
Compared with the real suffering out there, most of us, I guess are OK. But Jesse Mae Hemphill’s song reminds us of the solidarity we share together, rich and poor:
Lord help the human race
‘Cause we all die together
And we face the morning sun.
In the end we all face the same enemy. We’re all members of the human race, so we need to stand with each other, particularly in these difficult times.
There are plenty of ways to make a contribution. Here’s one:
Saphara Covid-19 response – Help us to help the most vulnerable.
Here’s Shemekia Copeland’s version of Lord Help the Poor and Needy
And Jesse Mae Hemphill’s original