Saturday, 28 March 2015

"My country, tis of thee" Lyrics and Story - Samuel Francis Smith, 1808-1895

A STUDENT, twenty-three years old, studying in Andover Theological Seminary for the Baptist ministry, wrote the American national hymn in less than a half hour on the second day of February, 1832. His name was Samuel F. Smith, the author also of "The morning light is breaking." The words were in part inspired by the tune we call "America," which he had found in a German collection of songs loaned to him shortly before by Lowell Mason, that master editor of hymn-books in the early nineteenth century. Mason had secured the book from William C. Woodbridge. 

Authorities have disagreed as to where the tune came from whether Saxony, Russia, Sweden, or England, in all of which countries it has been popularly sung to patriotic words. Because of its striking similarity to certain ancient tunes, it has been claimed by various writers to have come from an old French tune or a still older Scottish carol. The probabilities are and on this most editors agree to 
day that the first man to write the tune in nearly its present form was Henry Carey, an English composer, who lived from 1685 until 1743. Once when regret was expressed to Dr. Smith that his American national hymn is sung to the same tune as the British hymn, he replied : "I do not share this regret. On the contrary, I deem it a new and beautiful bond of union between the mother country and her daughter." The hymn was first sung July 4, 1832, at a children's patriotic celebration in Boston. 

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