04 July 2005

America the Beautiful

My favorite patriotic song is America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates. I've heard the song criticized because it seems to focus simply on the natural wonders of America, but you could only have that complaint if you haven't sung the other three verses. (I also happen to like the second and third verses of the Star-Spangled Banner. Too bad we never get to hear them.) I am particularly fond of the last two lines of the second stanza and the first two lines of the fourth stanza.

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!

The original version of the song was somewhat different:

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
For man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

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
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

2 comments:

  1. This is my favorite as well. There's a lot of meaning in those words; and in the words of the verses that we never seem to here (in both songs mentioned). Good post, thanks and have a great day celebrating freedom and independance.

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  2. I love this song, too. I remember meeting at the stake center a few days after September 11 (Pres. Bush had asked that we have a day of prayer), and when we sang this song it was more meaningful to me than it had ever been.

    We sang it on Sunday and I had a hard time not crying.

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