MY COUNTRY, ’TIS OF THEE
Samuel Francis Smith, 1808–1895
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)
Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.
Moved deeply by the desire to create a national hymn that would allow the American people to offer praise to God for our wonderful land, a 24 year-old theological student penned these lines on a scrap of paper in less than 30 minutes in 1832. Yet even today many consider “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” their favorite patriotic hymn and call it our “unofficial national anthem.”
The easily singable words of the song are matched with a popular international melody used by many nations, including England, where it accompanies “God Save the King/Queen.” The emotionally powerful ideas that Smith expressed had an immediate response. The hymn soon became a national favorite. The stirring tributes to our fatherland in the first three stanzas lead to a worshipful climax of gratefulness to God and a prayer for His continued guidance.
Following his graduation from Harvard and the Andover Theological Seminary, Samuel Smith became an outstanding minister in several Baptist churches in the East. He composed 150 hymns during his 87 years and helped compile the leading Baptist hymnal of his day. He was also editor of a missionary magazine through which he exerted a strong influence in promoting the cause of missions. Later he became the secretary of the Baptist Missionary Union and spent considerable time visiting various foreign fields. Samuel Smith was truly a distinctive representative of both his country and his God.
My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing: Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from ev’ry mountain side let freedom ring!
My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love: I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills; my heart with rapture thrills like that above.
Let music swell the breeze, and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song: Let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.
Our father’s God, to Thee, author of liberty, to Thee we sing: Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light; protect us by Thy might, great God, our King!
For Today: Psalm 33; Matthew 22:21; Acts 10:35; Romans 13:1–7
Spend time thinking of the many wonderful positive aspects of our great land and give praise to God for all of His past blessings. Pray for His continued guidance and protection in future days. Carry this musical message as you go—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for it becometh upright men to be thankful. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with viol and instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song: sing cheerfully with a loud voice. For the word of the Lord is righteous, and all his works are faithful. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as upon an heap, and layeth up the depths in his treasures. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all them that dwell in the world, fear him. For he spake, and it was done: he commanded, and it stood. The Lord breaketh the counsel of the heathen, and bringeth to nought the devices of the people. The counsel of the Lord shall stand forever, and the thoughts of his heart throughout all ages. Blessed is that nation, whose God is the Lord: even the people that he hath chosen for his inheritance. The Lord looketh down from heaven, and beholdeth all the children of men. From the habitation of his dwelling, he beholdeth all them that dwell in the earth. He fashioneth their hearts every one, and understandeth all their works. The King is not saved by the multitude of an host, neither is the mighty man delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain help, and shall not deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, and upon them that trust in his mercy, To deliver their souls from death, and to preserve them in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: for he is our help and our shield. Surely our heart shall rejoice in him, because we trusted in his holy Name. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we trusted in thee. Psalm 33
- They said unto him, Ceasar’s. Then said he unto them, Give therefore to Caesar, the things which are Caesar’s, and give unto God, those things which are God’s. Matthew 22:21
- But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:35
- Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers: for there is no power but of God: and the powers that be, are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves condemnation. For Magistrates are not to be feared for good works, but for evil. Wilt thou then be without fear of the power? do well: so shalt thou have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God for thy wealth: but if thou do evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword for nought: for he is the minister of God to take vengeance on him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must be subject, not because of wrath only, but also for conscience sake. For, for this cause ye pay also tribute: for they are God’s ministers, applying themselves for the same thing. Give to all men therefore their duty: tribute, to whom ye owe tribute: custom, to whom custom: fear, to whom fear: honor, to whom ye owe honor. Romans 13:1–7