Excerpts from He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother 

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there

And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy he's my brother

In 1884, in his book The Parables of Jesus, James Wells told the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she was tired. With surprise she replied, "No, he's not heavy; he's my brother."1 That story was the inspiration for one of the Hollies' greatest hits -- He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

Except for the apparent lack of clarity about where they are going and potentially taking credit for his own strength, the lyrics of this song could easily have found their way into a Christian hymnbook.

Other than perhaps Kumbaya, it's difficult to find a hymn or gospel song strongly emphasizing brotherly care -- especially one like this which so powerfully creates a picture for us of carrying one another on this long journey of life. Most of our hymns (very appropriately) sing to or about God, but isn't the second greatest commandment something to sing about as well?

The song became a worldwide hit for The Hollies in 1969. It’s one of those feel-good, wishful thinking songs -- imagining that if life was really like this then all would definitely be well in our world.

Who among us doesn’t appreciate someone coming alongside when our burdens seem unbearable? And even more importantly, burden-bearing fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). 

Alternating voices could sing the verses -- just as in life sometimes we carry our brother, at other times he carries us. It's a love-cycle similar to Robert Munsch’s children’s story I’ll Love You Forever where the mom cradles her child no matter his age, and when she is old he cradles her while beginning a new love-cycle with his newborn. 

We would be blessed to find this cycle occurring in our churches where the generation that took care of us in the nursery, taught our Sunday School classes, spoke God’s Word into our lives, and essentially carried the light to our generation -- would now be cared for, sustained, and ministered to by us while they are running their last lap. Seriously, how heavy can they be? “His welfare is of my concern. No burden is he to bear. We'll get there. And the load doesn't weigh me down at all. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.”

Those who are involved in LIFT systematically, proactively, and practically support and minister to our aging and ailing beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.

1. The Parables of Jesus. Books.google.com. 10 September 2010
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