One of my favorite things about my adopted home state of Rhode Island is the state motto. It’s not really a motto at all in the expected sense of a phrase or a sentence. It is simply one word … Hope. The motto is thought to have been derived from the biblical verse that states that “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul.” This is borne out by the fact that Rhode Island’s symbol is an anchor.

It seems to me that hope is something that is in short supply these days, not only here in Rhode Island but throughout our divided country and the entire world for that matter. We arrive at Thanksgiving today at a dark time in our history when no one is really sure whether our democracy can survive. And that’s where that single word, hope, comes in.

So I set about to find a way to mark this holiday with a song about hope. There are many of course but the one that has always moved me the most is “Ooh Child.” The song was written by Stan Vincent and originally recorded by the Five Stairsteps in 1970. At the time, the A-side of the record was the Stairsteps cover of the Beatles “Dear Prudence” with “Ooh Child” on the flip side. But it was the B-side that broke out in several markets and by the summer of 1970, the record’s message of hope had reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Released by Buddha Records, “Ooh Child” was the only Top 40 pop record the Five Stairsteps ever had.

I’ve written about the Five Stairsteps version of the song previously in the column but the song has had many cover versions over the years. Among the other artists who have recorded “Ooh Child” are The Spinners, Nina Simone, New Birth, Richie Havens, Valerie Carter, Hall & Oates, and the Edwin Hawkins Singers. I chose the Hawkins Singers version for today because out of all the fine covers of the song, the group’s gospel roots help to instill in an even greater sense of hope in me.

Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Ooh-oo child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child
Things’ll get brighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

And there it is … hope.

My hope is that this Thanksgiving Day finds you in the warm embrace of family and friends. It is my strong belief that despite the darkness that sometimes seems to surround us, we have much to be thankful for.