America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful
On July 22, 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful.
In 1893, 33-year-old college professor Katharine Lee Bates traveled to Colorado to teach a short summer English course. Along the way, she stopped at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where the alabaster “White City” moved her. And as she rode the train through America’s heartland she was awestruck by the expansive wheat fields.
As Bates later recalled, “One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”
When Bates approached Colorado Springs, she noticed how the granite of Pikes Peak gave the mountains a purple hue. As she stood on the summit of the mountain, a poem came to mind. She returned to her room at the Antlers Hotel and immediately wrote it down. She initially titled the poem, “Pikes Peak.”
Two years later, the poem appeared in the church periodical, The Congregationalist, for the Fourth of July. As the poem gained popularity, it was set to different pieces of music. Perhaps the most popular was Samuel A. Ward’s Materna. The poem and song were first combined in 1910 and titled, America the Beautiful.
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5 responses to "America the Beautiful "
5 thoughts on “America the Beautiful ”
When sung correctly, in my opinion, America the Beautiful” one of the most beautiful songs on the planet. Also in my opinion, “America the Beautiful” should be our national anthem. No, I’m not bashing “The Star Spangled Banner”, I’m just saying in my opinion a song that actually talks about our country’s beauty should probably be a national anthem, instead of a song based on violence. Can’t believe I’m saying this…I must be getting old. Too many wars and death in my life-time. Don’t tell me I’m not patriotic…served my country directly for 32 years (U.S. Army) and am now ending a 20 year career as a Department of the Army Civilian. I love this country, but far too many wars and too much death. We have to do better.
Thanks for serving our country. Both songs are great. As far as wars, the backdrop of the Star Spangled Banner, one day they will come to an end: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4b). Until that day, nations will rely on warriors, ready and able, to defend their borders and freedoms, whose hearts may beat like the warrior-poet of Ancient Israel who wrote: “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1). I do like the last stanza of the National Anthem, which points to God’s rescue of the nation where soldiers/freemen guard the people from enemies and “desolation” of war:
“O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry 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!”
Not as easy to sing as it might seem to the untrained ear. Right up there with the National Anthem in difficulty.
Nice anecdotal to accompany collection of the country’s Flag Stamps in a binder, especially with the printout of the song lyrics.
Great article, great commentary!