July 1, 2022 - Good Morning! It’s Friday, July 1.
Our nation’s 246th birthday party is just three days away, and over the next three days we’ll look at the stories behind three famous patriotic songs - songs that don’t just honor America, but honor God, as well.
In 1831, a young, 24-year-old minister named Samuel Francis Smith, was concerned about the spiritual condition of his young country. He decided to write a hymn that would, in his words, “bring America back to God”. His song - “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” - became hugely popular and was considered, for a hundred years, to be America’s unofficial national anthem.
That changed in 1931, when “The Star Spangled Banner” was voted our official song. I would have voted for Rev. Smith’s composition. For one reason, it’s so much easier to sing! And it has continued to be widely sung whenever Americans celebrate our freedom. In 1939, opera star Marian Anderson was barred from singing at Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin. Instead, on Easter Sunday, she stood before an integrated crowd of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. And she sang this song.
On August 28, 1963, another young minister stood before 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King, in his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, took the last phrase from Samuel Smith’s hymn as he passionately exhorted his country to “Let freedom ring!”
For almost two centuries this song has encouraged us to do just that, as it brings honor to America, and honor to our God.
Meet you back here tomorrow,