Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memory

Samuel Francis Smith
My nephew, Seth Hawley, with his wife, Lauren and son, Noah. Seth is on his third deployment this Memorial Day in the MIddle East.

I wrote this six years ago today about Memorial Day and a patriotic hymn I cherish. This is from May 25, 2009. Today is Memorial Day and my nephew, Seth, is in Afghanistan. The unofficial start of summer in the US, Memorial Day, coupled with the Fourth of July, ushers in a season of patriotism and thankfulness for blessings. My favorite patriotic hymn has always been My Country Tis Of Thee. The words were penned in a half hour by twenty-four year old preacher student Samuel Francis Smith in 1831. My Country Tis Of Thee served as our unofficial national anthem until officially replaced by The Star Spangled Banner last century. The tune is a melody that is also the British national anthem, God Save The Queen. In fact, the same music has been at different times the national anthem for at least six nations, including Denmark, the homeland of my great grandparents. Smith's patriotic work was first performed publicly on July 4, 1831 in Park Street Church in Boston and the words have not been altered in the intervening years. Here are the lyrics that Smith, who spoke fifteen languages, eloquently composed to describe our nation:

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.

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 father's 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.

As believers, we must always remember that we are Christians before we are Americans or Mexicans or Hondurans or Chinese. Still, it is a blessing to ask the Lord to give guidance to this nation in our songs. My favorite phrases are, 'land where my fathers died' in verse 1 and 'freedom's holy light' in the final stanza. I wish I could write like Smith did, almost, it seems, on the spur of the moment. Our country is far from perfect but we remain a beacon to the poor and persecuted of this planet. I'm sure that's why my ancestors came to these shores and today, I am reminded of the debt we owe to so many like Seth. On this day and every successive one, be safe and may the Lord watch over you.

Click below to see and hear a beautiful rendition of all four verses of My Country Tis Of Thee by a children's choir, complete with the obligatory American landscapes.

Applicable quote of the day:
"The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”


God bless,

Luke 18:1
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1 comment:

Family fun said...

Love the song but the best line is the last - Great God our King!