America the Beautiful

The North Tower Fountain (9/17/2011)

Photo: Kai Brinker (CC BY-SA 2.0)

America the Beautiful is one of those patriotic songs that we Americans heard so many times growing up that we barely think about it anymore. Like the National Anthem, we only know the first verse, and when we sing those words it’s from memory and often from habit.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

My view of this song changed forever after September 11, 2001. Due to the mix of grief and patriotism that naturally gripped us all in the weeks following that horrible day, I heard all four verses of America the Beautiful sung for the first time in I don’t know how long. It was the last verse that brought me to tears.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

May God comfort those who lost loved ones that day, shed his grace on all of us, and grant us peace.

Amen.

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