My Feet Are Tired, But My Soul is Resting

Inspired by the Montgomery bus boycott, a key moment in the Civil Rights movement, Frances Smith Thomas wrote the song “My Feet are Tired, But My Soul is Resting.”  Coretta Scott King, a close friend of Thomas, sang the premiere.  This straightforward a cappella setting for SATB choir conveys the song’s expression of steadfast courage in the face of adversity, and memorializes a turning point in US history.

This score is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Press “Order Score” or click here to view and listen.

Available as: SATB a cappella



I feel a special connection to Frances Smith Thomas, who wrote the song “My Feet are Tired, But My Soul is Resting.”  She was an alumna of Manchester University, my alma mater, and, like me, was mentored in the Church of the Brethren peace-making and activist tradition.  After graduation in the early 1940’s, she and her new husband, a Quaker, taught together at a small high school in Marion, Alabama.  Smith Thomas taught music and mentored some young women who would go on to become important figures in US history: Coretta Scott, who married Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jean Young, who married Andrew Young, close friend of Dr. King, and later mayor of Atlanta and US ambassador to the United Nations.

By the time of the Montgomery bus boycott, Thomas and her husband had moved to California, but they organized a bus caravan that traveled all the way to Montgomery to support the 381-day bus boycott.  After Dr. King’s assassination, “Aunt Fran” as the King children called her, stayed with Coretta and family in Atlanta, helping with correspondence and speeches, and offering comfort.

During my time at Manchester, I never heard mention of Smith Thomas and her songwriting for Coretta Scott King, but I later found her song in a Church of the Brethren hymnal supplement, and arranged it — with permission from her sons — for our church’s service around the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in 2012.

The arrangement begins with a soprano solo — in honor of Coretta Scott King — and utilizes the simple strength of four-part harmony in its three verses, along with some vocal accompaniment provided by repeated “Hallelujah’s”.

My feet are tired, but my soul is resting (3x)
I’m walking for the glory of the Lord. Hallelujah!

My feet are worn, but my soul is shining (3x)
I’m walking for the glory of the Lord. Hallelujah!

My feet cry out, but my soul is singing (3x)
I’m walking for the glory of the Lord. Hallelujah!

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