Thursday, November 24, 2011

Samuel Francis Smith

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.

Samuel Francis Smith was a 22-year-old student at a theological seminary when he wrote the lyrics to "My Country 'Tis of Thee."  It took him only about 30 minutes.

Smith's song was first performed at Park Street Church in Boston on July 4, 1831.  We sing it every year at the Thanksgiving Day service at my church, and I think of it as a Thanksgiving song.

Whether you prefer this song or "America the Beautiful" may depend on not only your musical taste but also your political philosophy.  The author of "America the Beautiful" asks America to "Confirm thy soul in self-control/Thy liberty in law."  For those of a more libertarian bent, "My Country 'Tis of Thee" -- which chooses "freedom" and "liberty" over "self-control" and "law" -- is much preferred.

But this is no day for petty partisan squabbling.  A happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you!

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