In 1831, Samuel Francis Smith was a student at Andover Theological Seminary. Moved by what he saw and read about of this beautiful, newly-formed country, he wrote a song called “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee” which was later called “America”. This song was loved by all and was soon being sung across the land. It actually became something of a national anthem for the United States during the 1800’s. One person of that day wrote that this song spoke to the heart of the nation. It identified what made America great and so very different from every other nation under heaven.
What most people don’t know about this song is that it was written with 4 verses. Most of us are acquainted with verse 1, and many can even sing a good portion of those patriotic words; “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing, land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring”. However few people, if any, know the remaining three verses. These paint a magnificent picture of the national sentiment Smith so eloquently captured in his heart-stirring song.
Verse 1 speaks of the sacrifices that were made by our Forefathers to secure this nation. The shedding of their blood and the surrendering of their comfortable lives was freely given so they could have a place that was free of tyrannical control and afforded them freedom to worship the God of the Bible. Verse 2 speaks of the beauty of the land and the gift of freedom it offers to all who come here. Verse 3 declares that the very breath of the land sings freedom’s song, and even the rocks cry out with that sweet truth. Yet the most powerful verse of all is the last one. In it Smith captures the very essence of what made America great. He identified the foundation that made the nation free and really anchored it to what would keep it strong and stable.
In this 4th and most powerful verse, Smith wrote the following words: “Our Fathers’ 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”. With a bold proclamation he openly identified the core of our strength and the source of where our liberty actually came from. Contrary to what modern historians are saying, and in direct opposition to what people are now being taught, the early songwriters and true American patriots all recognized a central truth. God and God alone is the source of our liberty and the author of all our freedom. They wrote about it, they sang about it and they were willing to die defending that truth. My question is, can we afford to do anything less?
As things change, and we prepare to move into the Fall season, perhaps another change is in order as well. Perhaps it is time to have a change of heart about America and what makes this country great. It’s certainly not our political system, because that is filled with differing opinions and party politics that is bankrupting the nation. It is definitely not our independent, self-sufficiency since those traits have done very little to slow our deadly, downward moral spiral. It certainly is not new legislation that now embraces alternate lifestyles that the Bible has always called sin. What can make a difference? Every heart turning back to God! He is the source of all freedom and liberty, and until we acknowledge that historical and foundational truth, and sing the song that is after Him, we are headed in the wrong direction.
We have written God out of the textbooks. We have legislated Him out of the schools, out of public office and out of biblical marriage. We embrace every false religion that comes along and promote the multicultural quicksand that drags national identity into national obscurity. People and governments can do whatever they want, but it will not change the truth. More than that, it will never erase the historical fact that God alone is what produces honest American character, and He alone made us the greatest nation on earth. Apart from Him we are nothing, and without Him we have embraced our own demise Let me encourage you to read again the 4th verse of “America”. Even sing it with the proud realization that it is the missing truth that can make us great once again.