Exploring America The Beautiful in song

Memorial Day is a calendar indication of the beginning of summer and it also begins a medley of Patriotic observances which incudes Flag Day and The Fourth of July as well as several anniversaries of battles and starting dates of various branches of our military. Each of these celebrations are celebrated to some extent with music, poems, speeches, flags, and fireworks. Of all of these, patriotic music seems to stir the soul of America and most of us know some of the words to these grand melodies as we attempt to sing along showing our patriotic pride. 

Today we explore a great and loved American song that was written and later put to music by two artists that never had the chance to meet. It was written as a poem called “Pikes Peak” by Katherine Lee Bates. The poem was inspired as she gazed upon the purpled shadowed summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. It was first published in the Fourth of July edition of a church periodical, The Congregationalist, in 1895 when it was given the name, “America.” 

Later these words were put to music by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward. He used the melody that was written to accompany the lyrics to “Materna” which was the basis of the hymn, “O Mother Dear, Jerusalem.”  Samuel Ward died in 1903 not realizing the future impact of his music. The combination of Bates poem and Ward’s melody was entitled “America the Beautiful” in 1910. 

This song became the most popular United States patriotic song of all time. In fact, this rendition was the favorite of all patriotic songs in America and was touted to be the National Anthem, but “The Star Spangled Banner” won that race in 1931. During John F. Kennedy’s administration, there was a push to make “America the Beautiful” our National Anthem, however this effort did not succeed.

Our forefathers that founded this nation using biblical principles to establish our laws and the heroes that have died through the years to ensure that you and I could live in the greatest country of the world and enjoy the precious freedoms that we do would be deeply saddened at the prospect of losing it all because some of our citizens want to erase all of the actions of our predecessors and move our nation toward an uncertain future. Our history, the good and the bad, is the result of actions made by our predecessors. 

Whether you agree with those actions are disagree, they have happened and are a part of everyday life as a reminder of what we did wrong,  what we did right, and what our actions should be today. We should use our true history as a means to give information to tomorrows world. We owe it to future generations as well as ourselves! If America is to survive as a great democracy, we would be well advised to recall remarks made by President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address when he stated, “…that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” My ol’ Daddy would say, “America has had and will have its faults, but we must, as Americans, Stand Tall, Stand Proud, and Thank our God for this Great Land and for the Freedoms that are our God given right!” We have had many great leaders and many great speeches, and some we need to ponder on from time to time. So America, would you agree with me that this is the greatest country in the world, America the Beautiful!

 

America The Beautiful

 

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern, impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!

America! America!

May God thy gold refine,

Till all success be nobleness,

And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!

God shed His grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

By Katherine Lee Bates with music by Samuel A. Ward

 

America, we are a great Nation, blessed by our God, and we must take responsibility for our actions. America, Stand Tall and Stand Proud!

God Bless each of you and God Bless America!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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