Scripture Verse

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set ye free. John 8:32


Samuel F. Smith

Words: Sam­u­el F. Smith, 1831. The hymn was first sung at an In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion by the Bos­ton Sab­bath School Un­ion, Ju­ly 4, 1831, and first pub­lished in Choir, or Un­ion Col­lect­ion of Church Mu­sic, by Lo­well Ma­son (Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts: 1832).

Music: Am­er­i­ca The­sau­rus Mu­sic­us, 1744 (🔊 pdf nwc).

These words were born be­cause Smith’s friend, Lo­well Ma­son, could not read Ger­man. Ma­son had re­ceived sev­er­al Ger­man hym­nals, and sent them to Smith, who he knew un­der­stood Ger­man. In one of them, Smith ran across the tune now used for My Coun­try ’Tis of Thee. Not­ing that the Ger­man words were pa­tri­ot­ic in na­ture:

I in­stant­ly felt the im­pulse to write a pa­tri­ot­ic hymn of my own, adapt­ed to the tune. Pick­ing up a scrap of waste pa­per which lay near me, I wrote at once, prob­ab­ly with­in half an hour, the hymn ‘Am­er­i­ca’ as it is now known ev­ery­where.

The whole hymn stands to­day as it stood on the bit of waste pa­per.

Dr. Smith vis­it­ed the Board of Trade in Chicago [Il­li­nois] in May of 1887. While sit­ting in the gal­le­ry he was point­ed out to the some of the mem­bers. Soon he be­came the cen­ter of con­sid­er­a­ble no­tice.

All at once the trad­ing on the floor ceased, and from the wheat-pit came the fa­mil­iar words, My coun­try ’tis of thee. Af­ter two stan­zas had been sung, Dr. Smith arose and bowed.

A rous­ing cheer was giv­en by the men on the floor, to which Dr. Smith was now es­cort­ed by the sec­re­tary of the Board.

The mem­bers flocked around Dr. Smith and grasped his hand. Then they opened a pas­sage through the crowd and led him to the wheat-pit, where they took off their hats and sang the rest of the hymn.

Sankey, p. 196


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 mountainside,
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.

No more shall tyrants here
With haughty steps appear,
And soldier bands;
No more shall tyrants tread
Above the patriot dead—
No more our blood be shed
By alien hands.

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.