Thursday, November 4, 2021

History of "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL" By Cheri Kay Clifton






A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a wonderful 10-day Trafalgar tour throughout the beautiful state of Colorado.  We not only saw unforgettable scenery, but just as enjoyable, we learned much more history about the state than if we’d traveled there on our own without our knowledgeable Trafalgar tour guide.

I’d like to share with you an interesting bit of history he told us about that many of you may not have known …. the origin of the patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”


In 1893, at age 33, Katharine Lee Bates, long-time professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, was lecturing a summer session at Colorado College. During her visit she joined an expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak in a prairie wagon. Atop that 14,110 foot mountain, the words of a poem started to come to her and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room at the Antlers Hotel. (A beautiful historic hotel we had the pleasure of staying at while on our tour.)

Originally entitled “Pikes Peak,” the inspirational poem became lyrics for the song, ”America the Beautiful,” in 1910, with its melody composed by church organist and choirmaster, Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. Katharine Bates never met Ward. Ward died in 1903, not knowing the national stature his music would attain. However, the song’s popularity was well established by the time Bates died in 1929.

Commemorative plague atop Pikes Peak

July 1999

At various times in the more than one hundred years that have elapsed since the song was written, efforts to give "America the Beautiful" legal status either as a national hymn or as a national anthem equal to, or in place of, "The Star-Spangled Banner,” but so far this has not succeeded.

The song remains one of the most popular of the many U.S. patriotic songs.

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL - 1911 version
 
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!



 

Visit my website: www.CheriKayClifton.com



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