I Wrote a Hymn

I woke up Saturday morning thinking about the hymn “America the Beautiful.” It was part of my sermon preparation, on the theme of gratitude—last Sunday, gratitude for our native land, our home country. Before very long, I was thinking, “This hymn needs some new verses.”

The author of the hymn, Katherine Bates, also thought it needed adjustment, because the wording of the four verses as we sing them now vary significantly from the text as it was first published in 1895. She herself revised it for a 1904 publication, then again in 1910 with the text as we sing it today.

But here is what I sensed as a read and reread the lyrics: this hymn celebrates pilgrims (verse two) and soldiers (verse three), and together those …

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