The Lyrics of Patriotic Songs May Surprise You

Iwo Jima Memorial
Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington D.C. (photo by RaeAnn Jent)

Hey everyone, I hope your Fourth of July is off to a great start. Happy 242nd Birthday, America!

One of my favorite parts of the Fourth of July or Memorial Day are patriotic songs. No kidding, I used to march around the house singing You’re a Grand Old Flag while waving a little flag I got from school.

But lately, I’ve noticed that we usually only sing the first verse of our favorite patriotic songs. So this post is all about discovering those extra verses we seldom hear. Many are deeply connected to our nation’s history, particularly our spiritual heritage.

  • America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates (1913)
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!

 I especially love verse two. “God mend thine ev’ry flaw” is a perfect prayer for our nation. We are a nation under God and I truly believe that when we humble ourselves and pray for our nation, that God hears our prayers. America may not be heading in the right direction, but it’s not to late to change.

Think of the amazing potential our nation has when perfected under God. “Thy liberty in law” is a great reminder that true freedom isn’t the absence of rules, but rather obedience to the truth. A society without rules is reckless, dangerous, and disastrous. However, a society that abides by rules that keep its people safe can enjoy rich and fulfilling freedom without chaos and destruction.

  •  America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) by Samuel F. Smith (1832)

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.

Our glorious Land to-day/ ‘Neath Education’s sway/ Soars upward still/ Its hills of learning fair/ Whose bounties all may share; behold them everywhere/ On vale and hill!

Thy safeguard, Liberty/ The school shall ever be/ Our Nation’s pride/ No tyrant hand shall smite/ While with encircling might/ All here are taught the Right/ With Truth allied.

Beneath Heaven’s gracious will/ The stars of progress still/ Our course do 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!

Verse 4 is amazing! God is the “Author of Liberty”. We only experience true freedom from God. I truly love the concept of God as an Author. He is the Author of Creation, of Mankind, of Liberty, and of everything really.

I also love the honest plea for God to “protect us by His might”. Many historians are still confounded at the fact that America won the War for Independence. Britain was a very powerful nation in that time with plenty of finances, soldiers, and supplies. The colonists were not all well trained in battle and rather primitive in their battle tactics.

But I do believe that God has been with America from the beginning. He is the only reason we won against Britain. I believe God has amazing plans for America and that only through His power can we endure.

  •  The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key (1814)

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light/ What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?/ Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight/ O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?/ And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air/ Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there/ Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep/ Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes/ What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep/ As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?/ Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam/ In full glory reflected now shines in the stream/ ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 And where is that band who so vauntingly swore/ That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion/ A home and a country should leave us no more!/ Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution/ No refuge could save the hireling and slave/ From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave/ And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

 Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand/ Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!/ Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land/ Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation/ Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just/ And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”/ And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Verse four says it all! “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation”. Although it’s great to honor our nation and the freedom it symbolizes, we should never forget to praise God who preserves America.

The line “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust‘” intrigued me, so I did a little research (thanks, Wikipedia!)

 “In God We Trust” first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864.

In 1956, “In God We Trust” officially became our nation’s motto.

President Eisenhower even approved a law from Congress that the phrase should appear on U.S. currency. And what better motto for America?!

I’m so thankful to be an American. God has truly blessed us as a nation beyond measure.

Enjoy the fireworks, enjoy the freedom we have here, but please don’t forget to give praise to God.  Our nation’s heritage is clearly “under God” and our identity in Christ is what makes America great.

 Happy Fourth!

-RaeAnn

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