Brow Beat

The Voices Behind Beyoncé’s Grammy Performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”

Perhaps the most poignant moment in Selma—a film brimming with poignant moments—is less about the movement and more about the man: in a minor scene, Martin Luther King Jr. calls singer Mahalia Jackson and whispers for the “the Lord’s voice.” She sings him “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” the timeless gospel tune that King loved. It was the song he mentioned just seconds before being assassinated, and it was the song played at his funeral.  

Beyoncé sang the devotional to close the Grammys on Sunday night, and now she’s released the above video, a mini-documentary on the voices behind the performance. But the video’s real focus is the song itself—its meanings, its multitudes, and its continual relevance in the context of black life in America.