October 21, 1808, Boston, Massachusetts.

November 16, 1895, Boston, Massachusetts.

Newton Cemetery, Newton, Massachusetts.


Smith attended Harvard University and Andover Theological Seminary. He entered the Baptist ministry in 1832, and the same year became editor of Baptist Missionary Magazine. He also contributed to the Encyclopedia Americana. From 1834-42, he pastored at Waterville, Maine, and was Professor of Modern Languages at Waterville College. In 1842, he moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where he stayed until 1854, when he became editor of the publications of the Baptist Missionary Union.

The secular world best remembers Smith as the author of My Country ’Tis of Thee. He and Oliver Wendell Holmes were classmates at Harvard, and for the 1829 class reunion, Holmes wrote:

There’s a nice youngster of excellent pith,
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
Just read on his medal, My country, of thee.

On Smith’s 80th birthday, Holmes sent him the following:

Full many a poet’s labored lines
A century’s creeping waves shall hide—
The verse a people’s love enshrines
Stands like a rock that breasts the tide.

Time wrecks the proudest piles we raise,
The towers, the domes, the temples fall.
The fortress crumbles and decays—
One breath of song outlasts them all.

Smith’s other works include:

  1. As Flows the Rapid River
  2. Down to the Sacred Wave
  3. Founded on Thee
  4. Go, Heralds of Salvation, Forth
  5. Lord of Our Life, God Whom We Fear
  6. Morning Light Is Breaking, The
  7. My Country ’Tis of Thee
  8. Onward Speed Thy Conquering Flight
  9. Softly Fades the Twilight Ray
  10. Spirit of Holiness, Descend
  11. Today the Savior Calls
  12. Welcome, Days of Solemn Meeting
  13. When Thy Mortal Life Is Fled