Gateway to the Classics: Historic Poems and Ballads by Rupert S. Holland
 
Historic Poems and Ballads by  Rupert S. Holland

America

S AMUEL FRANCIS SMITH, a clergyman of Boston, was the author of "America," the song which is usually regarded as the national anthem of the United States. He himself said of it, "The song was written at Andover during my student life there, I think in the winter of 1831-32. It was first used publicly at a Sunday-school celebration on July 4th, in the Park Street Church, Boston. I had in my possession a quantity of German song-books, from which I was selecting such music as pleased me, and finding 'God Save the King,' I proceeded to give it the ring of American patriotism." Both the English anthem "God Save the King," and the American "My Country, 'tis of Thee," owe the air to which they are sung to Germany.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was a classmate at Harvard of the author of "America," referred to him aptly in one of the poems he wrote for a class reunion. Said Holmes:

"And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith;

Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith!

But he chanted a song for the brave and the free—

Just read on his medal, 'My Country, of thee.' "

America

by Samuel Francis Smith

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.


Beneath Heaven's gracious will

The star of progress still

Our course doth 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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