The ‘radical’ July 4th message found in traditional patriotic songs

The ‘radical’ July 4th message found in traditional patriotic songs

Last Sunday, the congregation of the church I attend sang two patriotic songs in honor of the July 4 holiday — “America,” more commonly known as “My Country, Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful.“

Both songs are found in the church hymnal.

While looking at the overtly Christian lyrics, I wondered why atheist groups and the Freedom from Religion Foundation have not sued to ban public singing of these songs at events outside of church.

When was the last time you sang either of these two songs? If you are like me, it has been a while. Unfortunately, the extreme red vs. blue polarization leading our nation to an “uncivil war” means that traditional songs of American unity espousing love of God and country are at risk of political annihilation by someone or some group that find the lyrics “offensive.”

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Perhaps that is why we hear these songs less frequently now than when I was growing up. Therefore, as a public service in honor of our nation’s 242nd Independence Day, I present the lyrics to these two great American songs.

Just for fun (and don’t tell the atheists) count how many times there is a direct or indirect reference to God. And that is the point. Because, starting with the Declaration of Independence, patriotism and the belief that God had a hand in birthing, growing and protecting this nation used to be intertwined in our national consciousness. Now that concept is considered “radical.”

First, here are the lyrics to “America” written in 1832 by Samuel F. 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.

The lyrics to  “America the Beautiful” were written in 1893 by Katherine Lee Bates as a Fourth of July poem. Then, in 1911 her lyrics were revised, giving us the song we know today.

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 impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry 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 ev’ry 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!

Finally, let me wish everyone a Happy Independence Day supplemented with the final verse from “America”: “Protect us by thy might, Great God, our King.” And with that, some may call me a “radical” and perhaps a “deplorable” too, but just call me a proud American.

Cross posted at Towhall

Myra Kahn Adams

Myra Kahn Adams

Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign's creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign's ad council. Writing credits include, National Review, Washington Examiner, World Net Daily, Breitbart and many others. Contact Myra at [email protected]


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