53.3 F
Friday, March 31, 2023

Positively Naperville reflects on ‘America the Beautiful’


Above / The November 2022 cover of Positively Naperville featuring an autumn view of May Watts Park has been receiving kind feedback from readers. Thanks to all!

The song, “America the Beautiful,” was based on a poem written by professor, poet and writer Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) who enjoyed the great outdoors and hiking. As the story goes, during an 1893 trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, she ventured to the top of Pike’s Peak. The view from 14,000 feet was so incredibly beautiful that it inspired her to write, “All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

Anyone who has attended a summer Naperville Municipal Band Concert in Central Park when “America the Beautiful” was performed likely will remember when narrator/music historian Ann Lord has shared the story about the song most Americans have been singing since childhood days in elementary school.

According to numerous searches online, Bates’ poem first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. Within a few months, her words were set to music by Silas G. Pratt. Bates revised the song in 1904, after receiving many requests to use the song in publications and to be performed at special services. An additional change was made to the wording of the third verse in 1913 to give us the four-verse version we know today— and the meaningful words that appear on the cover of this month’s Positively Naperville.

Today, Bates’ poem is set to music and sung to Samuel A. Ward’s “Materna.” What’s more, “America the Beautiful” sometimes is considered this nation’s unofficial national anthem.

Sing along now…

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!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

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!

God bless America, land that I love! 

No matter where you stand, at 11AM on Fri., Nov. 11, take a moment to pause, reflect and be grateful to all service men and women who have served America honorably to protect our freedoms.

Did you know? The elevation of Naperville, Illinois, USA, is 702 feet. The pretty autumn view from the steps of the Naperville Municipal Center includes Moser Tower, standing tall in the heart of the Riverwalk and just steps from shopping and dining in downtown. Cheers!

The beauty of the season inspires us to be grateful to live in this community with a long history of independence, compassion and can-do spirit. Peace!

—Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher


PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.