“The slave is our brother”

Last Christmas, Hubby and I agreed that “O Holy Night” is in the top tier of favorite Christmas hymns. Provided it included the third abolitionist stanza:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

That, thanks to Unitarian minister and hymn translator John Sullivan Dwight.

The BBC is marking the bicentennial, dating from March 25, of the end of the slave trade in England and Wales, due to the unimaginable work of William Wilberforce and “the Clapham sect.” I wrote a bit about this before.

The 1807 act did not end slavery, rather only made it illegal for Britons to trade in slaves.  Slavery in Britain proper, plus Massachusetts, had already been ruled illegal — activist judges! — and it would be another quarter-century for the institution to be banned in the British Empire. (The United States banned the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808; of course, the institution was alive for another lifetime.)

The anniversary should bring to mind and action those who continue in de facto slavery, both continually in bond or moved and held illegally in labor and prostitution imprisonment. Mauritania was the last nation to abolish slavery, in 1980, but some continue to be held.

Some links:

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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