Patriotic Hymns for Independence Day
A list of links to some favorite American patriotic songs.
Of thee we sing
As I was reflecting on the upcoming Independence Day holiday, I was impressed by the heritage of music that we have as a nation. We celebrate with wonderful stirring songs such as "America the Beautiful", Stars and Stripes Forever, and of course, our National Anthem; "The Star Spangled Banner". This great song was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as a poem originally entitled; The Defense of Fort McHenry". This great song became our national anthem in 1931 by a proclamation of congress. I could tell about the very interesting history behind the song, but there are many web sites you can go to and be so enlightened. Here is just one of many.
I distinctly remember as a sophomore at MSgr Luckey High School in Manhattan, Kansas, every morning we would open our school day with prayer, the "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States", and then we would recite a verse from the "Star Spangled Banner". But each class would recite a different verse. Did you know there were four verses to our National Anthem? (Most people do not know that). For that year, every day our verse as sophomores was the fourth verse. But this verse shows a heritage of our country as being a country that placed its trust in God. One of the phrases in the fourth verse went like this.
"Blest with victory 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"
"May the Heaven Rescued land praise the power that made and preserved us a nation". And here in this couplet, long before or country put the phrase on our money it was declared that our nation's motto was; "In God is our Trust". What a great statement of faith in an all powerful God who raises up and puts down nations.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for that verse and for years I have wished that our professional sporting events would start rotating the verses of this great anthem so that we as citizens of this great country would become more aware of our great musical heritage.
It is as if the "Star Spangled Banner" has become a religious hymn. It is printed in many church hymnals, and it is sung in churches across the land on patriotic holidays. But did you know that the United States of America does have an official hymn? No, it is not the "Star Spangled Banner".
The lyrics to our national hymn were written in 1876 to honor America's centennial celebration. The author, Daniel C. Roberts, the rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, in Brandon, Vermont also composed the music in 1892. The name of the Hymn is God of our Fathers. You can read more about how the song came to be written at this link.
As you read the lyrics of this great hymn, you may recognize that you do indeed know this hymn and the music as well. As you sing this in celebration of our 235th year of independence reflect on the great God of our Fathers who inspired and enabled that freedom to be ours today.
"God of our Fathers" (National Hymn)
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.
Daniel C. Roberts, lyrics, 1876
George W. Warren, melody, 1892
To be sure, this country has a Christian heritage like no other. To deny the historicity of this fact is to be ignorant of the facts of history. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail after the approval of the Declaration of Independence predicting that the celebration of the day would be and ought to be commemorated in acts of worship. So it is no wonder we have hymns as a part of our national heritage. We need to be familiar with these songs, and perhaps we should be singing them as we watch the fireworks or as the brats and the burgers are cooking. Either way, may we honor and worship the one and only true God who has bestowed us with this great gift of freedom, and may we truly worship and Honor His son the Lord Jesus Christ for the great spiritual freedom that he has secured for us.
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
Letter to Abigail Adams (3 July 1776
Here are links to the lyrics and performances of these great national songs. May God be praised.
The Air force Hymn is a prayer to God for him to guide and guard the men who fly. The first line is. "Lord, guard and guide the men who fly" The links below are to the lyrics and to a "you-tube" performance by the USAF Academy Cadet Chorale.
The U.S. Navy also has a hymn of worship, declaring in the title faith in our Eternal Father and that he is strong to save. Here are links to the lyrics and a performance by the 2008 Naval Academy Mens Glee Club.
"Eternal Father Strong to Save"
The Army Hymn is the same one as our National Hymn.
"God of Our Fathers"
The Marine Corps Hymn is probably the one hymn most of us may be familiar with. It is said that Prime Minister of England during World War II, Winston Churchill, was so impressed with the Marines performance during the war that he committed all three verses of this hymn to memory and would recite them for visitors on many social occasions. It is called simply; "The Marine Corps Hymn"
Link to the Great John Phillip Sousa's; "Stars and Stripes Forever" as performed by the Boston Pops.
"America the Beautiful", performed by Ray Charles (A Classic)
And what is the Fourth of July without a Kate Smith Rendition of "God Bless America"