In the days leading up to the 1869 Fourth of July, the city of Boston hosted a massive, 10-day National Peace Jubilee, complete with a 10,000-member choir and a 1,000-piece orchestra that performed songs of national significance to celebrate a reunited country.
The high point of the festival was a resounding rendition of America, My Country 'Tis of Thee. When the closing strains of the anthem were sung, bells all over the city began to ring and the guns of a nearby battery were fired. To cap it off, 1,000 red-coated firemen gave a clang on as many anvils.
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics in 1831, while he was a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. His friend Lowell Mason had asked him to translate the lyrics in some German school songbooks or to write new lyrics.
A melody in Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3 caught his attention. Unaware that the melody was the same as Great Britain’s national anthem, God Save the Queen, Smith wrote his own American patriotic hymn to the melody, completing the lyrics in thirty minutes.
The song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children's Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston.
My Country, ‘Tis of Thee served as a de facto national anthem of the United States before the adoption of The Star-Spangled Banner as the official anthem.
All of us at Rich’s for the Home wish you a memorable and joyous Independence Day as we collectively pause and give thanks for our many blessings.
America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)
My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside 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 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.