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"My Country, Tis of Thee."

"MY COUNTRY, TIS OF THEE."

"MY COUNTRY, TIS OF THEE." Samuel Francis Smith received several German books from Lowell Mason, a friend, who had himself been given them by William Woodbridge on his return from Europe in 1831. Looking through the German hymnals in early 1832, Smith was moved to write a poem he called "America," which he intended to be a national song dedicated to the United States. He wrote the words with the melody of the British song "God Save the King," that country's national anthem, in mind. The melody was popular in many European countries, where different words had been written for it since its origin, which has been dated from as early as the seventeenth century to the 1740s. The melody was also not new in the United States. Previous to Smith's version, the tune had been sung in the United States to lyrics with titles such as "God Save the Thirteen States" and "God Save the President."

The first public performance of "My Country, Tis of Thee" reportedly was at Park Street Church in Boston, at a children's Sunday school celebration of Independence Day in 1832. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the song was still performed at patriotic occasions, though it was not as popular as the U.S. national anthem the "Star-Spangled Banner" (1814) or the patriotic hymn "America the Beautiful" (1863).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

James, Robert Branham, and Stephen J. Hartnett. Sweet Freedom's Song: "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and Democracy in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Smith, Samuel Francis. Papers, 1834–1936. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Todd, Mike. "America." An American Encyclopedia. Available at http://miketodd.net/encyc/americasong.htm

Connie AnnKirk

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