Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

The lyrics to this beautiful patriotic song were written by Samuel Francis Smith, a Baptist minister and given to Lowell Mason who published it in 1832.  Smith wrote over 150 hymns and assisted in compiling a hymnal, while Mason was a prolific composer of over 1600 tunes.  Mason was also considered the father of music education in the US, having introduced music programs into American public schools.

“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (originally titled "America" by Smith) was actually first performed at a Fourth of July celebration in 1931.  When the famous professor and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr recommended Smith for an honorary doctorate of letters to Harvard University he noted that “his song will be sung centuries from now, when most of us and our pipings are forgotten.”

My country, 'tis of Thee Lyrics
by Samuel F. Smith - 1832


My country, 'tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills,
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet Freedom's song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright
With Freedom's holy light,
Protect us by thy might
Great God, our King.

Our glorious Land to-day,
'Neath Education's sway,
Soars upward still.
Its hills of learning fair,
Whose bounties all may share,
behold them everywhere
On vale and hill!

Thy safeguard, Liberty,
The school shall ever be,
Our Nation's pride!
No tyrant hand shall smite,
While with encircling might
All here are taught the Right
With Truth allied.

Beneath Heaven's gracious will
The stars of progress still
Our course do sway;
In unity sublime
To broader heights we climb,
Triumphant over Time,
God speeds our way!

Grand birthright of our sires,
Our altars and our fires
Keep we still pure!
Our starry flag unfurled,
The hope of all the world,
In peace and light impearled,
God hold secure!

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