Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


With apologies to my many readers from outside the United States, this week I have chosen to share one of the great patriotic numbers from the United States.  This week we celebrated Independence Day on the traditional Fourth of July with many parades, celebrations and firework displays.  I was touched when I heard a beautiful rendition of America The Beautiful, a patriotic song which probably is no longer politically correct to sing.  I wonder if it is ever sung in our schools anymore.  The lyrics were written by Katherine Lee Bates and music was composed by a church organist and choirmaster, Samuel A. Ward.   Bates originally wrote the words as a poem, Pikes Peak, first published in the Fourth of July edition of the church periodical The Congregationalist in 1895. At that time, the poem was titled America for publication. In 1893, at the age of thirty-six, Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, took a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. Many of the sights on her trip inspired her, and they found their way into her poem. These included the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the "White City" with its promise of the future contained within its alabaster buildings.  Likewise the wheat fields of America's heartland Kansas, through which her train was riding as well as the majestic view of the Great Plains from high atop Zebulon's Pikes Peak.  It was on the pinnacle of that mountain that the words of the poem started to come to her, and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room. Just as Bates had been inspired to write her poem, Ward too was inspired to compose his tune. The tune came to him while he was on a ferryboat trip from Coney Island back to his home in New York City, in 1882, and he immediately wrote it down. He was so anxious to capture the tune in his head, he asked fellow passenger friend Harry Martin for his shirt cuff to write the tune on. He composed the tune for the old hymn "O Mother Dear, Jerusalem", retitling the work "Materna". Ward's music combined with Bates' poem were first published together in 1910 and titled, America the Beautiful.  The song is such a great reminder of how God has blessed this nation over the decades, something that sadly is no longer remembered today by many of our citizens.  It reminds us of the many "heroes" who gave their lives to gain and preserve our freedoms and independence.  It reminds us of the dreams that these patriots had for our future.  But in verse two it also pleads that God would mend our every flaw.  I can't help but wonder if we have passed the point that God would continue to shed His grace on us as a nation if we would return to Him. Would He forgive us for turning our backs on Him in so many ways?  May it be our prayer that we would return to Him and that He would bring a revival to this nation which appears to be in rapid decline.  Thank the Lord for what this country has stood for in the past as God blessed and preserved us as a great nation.  Truly I have been blessed to have been born here and to have lived here. "America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!"

(1)     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!

(2)    O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

(3)     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!

(4)    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!

You can listen to it being sung here by a group of children after you skip the ad in 5 seconds.      CHILDREN

You can also hear some verses sung by the Gathers     GATHER

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