Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 4: Hope

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 4, "A Change Is Gonna Come," by Sam Cooke
  • Journals and pens/pencils
  • A recording of "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain a CD with the Sam Cooke song, "A Change Is Gonna Come." You can also purchase and download the song or, if your meeting space has Internet access, you can access it free online at a few sites, including Last FM.
  • Photocopy Handout 4, "A Change Is Gonna Come", one for each participant.

Description of Activity

Distribute Handout 4, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Explain that these are the lyrics to a song by Sam Cooke that participants will hear. Cooke was a popular African American singer who had eighteen Top Thirty hits during his career, including "You Send Me" and "Twistin' the Night Away."

Lead a discussion, using these questions:

  • What difficult times does the speaker face?
  • Are the themes of freedom or death present in this song? Explain.
  • What proof does the speaker have that a change will come?
  • What is the tone or mood of the song?

This discussion might touch upon faith, as the speaker does not present any evidence of a change coming, yet strongly believes it will happen. If the topic of faith does comes up, feel free to explore that thread of the discussion and let participants know that you will be talking more about faith in a later workshop. If no one mentions "hopeful," ask if participants feel the speaker is hopeful. Ask what hope has to do with the previous poems and themes of today's workshop.

Invite participants to craft a poem in their journals. There are several ways they might approach this writing assignment; they could write:

  • A poem about one or more of the difficult times they described in their journals today
  • A poem in response to one of the poems they read today
  • A poem about one of the problem's currently facing the world and their hope, or lack of hope, for a solution
  • A song about any of the above

If you have time, and if they are comfortable doing so, invite participants to share their writing.