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My Country Tis Of Thee

History | Lyrics | Samuel Francis Smith Bio

History

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the words for "America" in 1832. He was translating some songs from German into English for an organist friend, Lowell Mason. One of the songs, a German patriotic song called "God Bless Our Native Land," caught Smith’s interest. He liked the melody, and he thought that the United States needed a patriotic song like that, so he wrote the words to the song we know as "America."

The melody Smith used for his words is a very popular one. The same melody is also used for the British anthem, "God Save the Queen (King)." Lowell Mason published Smith’s song, and on the Fourth of July, 1831, it was first sung in Boston, Massachusetts. Soon the song that begins "My country ‘tis of thee . . ." was popular all over the United States.

Today we usually see four verses for "America." When Smith first wrote it, however, he included a fifth verse that had a negative tone toward Great Britain. Sometime later, Smith regretted writing that verse and cut it out of his original manuscript.


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