Just Mercy

Just Mercy

Songs/ Hymns Symbol Icon

Throughout the book, songs and church hymns often accompany heightened emotional scenes. In particular, hymns and songs are often sung by or for individuals whose situations are especially grim. Song gives comfort and a voice to individuals who are systemically denied agency, hope, or self-expression. In particular, song represents the suffering, resilience, and hope of oppressed individuals. This connects to the central role of music in historically African-American churches, and also it alludes to the role of spirituals during slavery.

Songs/ Hymns Quotes in Just Mercy

The Just Mercy quotes below all refer to the symbol of Songs/ Hymns. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Spiegel & Grau edition of Just Mercy published in 2015.
Introduction Quotes

Henry sang slowly and with great sincerity and conviction […]
Lord lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Heaven’s tableland
A higher plane, that I have found
Lord, plant my feet on Higher Ground.
I sat down, completely stunned. Henry’s voice was filled with desire. I experienced his song as a precious gift.

Related Characters: Bryan Stevenson (speaker), Henry (speaker)
Related Symbols: Songs/ Hymns
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

It was sad like few other hymns I’d heard. I don’t know why exactly, but I started to hum it as I saw more uniformed officers entering the vestibule outside the visitation room. It seemed like something that might help […] After a few minutes, the family joined me. I went over to Herbert’s wife as she held him tightly, sobbing softly. I whispered to her, “We have to let him go.” Herbert saw the officers lining up outside, and he pulled away from her slowly and told me to take her out of the room.

Related Characters: Bryan Stevenson (speaker), Herbert Richardson, Herbert’s wife
Related Symbols: Songs/ Hymns
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 16 Quotes

“I’ve been singing sad songs my whole life. Had to. When you catch stones, even happy songs can make you sad.” She paused and grew silent. I heard her chuckle before she continued. “But you keep singing. Your songs will make you strong. They might even make you happy.”

Related Symbols: Songs/ Hymns
Page Number: 309-310
Explanation and Analysis:
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Songs/ Hymns Symbol Timeline in Just Mercy

The timeline below shows where the symbol Songs/ Hymns appears in Just Mercy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: The Old Rugged Cross
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
...Stevenson recounts that a week beforehand he had requested on Herbert’s behalf that the church hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” be played during his execution. To his surprise, the officers had... (full context)
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Systemic Power, Oppression, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
...long hug before he is taken away. The officers put on a record of the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross.” As he watches Herbert die, Stevenson notices a “cloud of regret... (full context)
Chapter 13: Recovery
Resistance and Advocacy Theme Icon
Empathy, Mercy, and Humanization Theme Icon
Media and Public Opinion Theme Icon
...seem to care about injustices against strangers so far away. The students sing a sorrowful song that Stevenson describes as “dissonant” and “transcendent.” He fights tears when he thinks of his... (full context)