God Bless America (Patriotic Hymn Series)

Today, I conclude our patriotic “hymn” series brought about because someone viewed my patriotism as a character flaw. I thought it would be fitting to end with one that has been dear to the hearts of Democrats, Republicans, and apolitical people alike. It’s not in any of my hymnals, even more contemporary ones, though it is far more God-honoring than our national anthem which shows up in about half of them.  Perhaps you guessed that I’m talking about God Bless America.

God Bless America was written by Irving Berlin in 1939.

I’d like to write a great peace song,” Berlin said, “but it’s hard to do, because you have trouble dramatizing peace.”

It was also hard because Berlin had lived through one world war and he was seeing the rise of Nazi Germany through the lens of an American immigrant, a Russian Jew.

Patriotic songs were a dime a dozen at the time and it was surprising that Berlin, already so accomplished in the music industry, would go to his trunk where he’d tucked away God Bless America that he’d written 2 decades prior. He reworked the original verse “Stand beside her and guide her to the right with a light from above” because different political significance had been given to the word “right” and changed it to the iconic “Through the night with a light from above” which recalls imagery of God leading the Israelites by a pillar of fire at night.

Exodus 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

The song became popularized and a de facto national anthem after its first airing in an Armistice Day celebration (1939) when Kate Smith included the song in her program. The rest is history.  It shows up at conventions and baseball games despite the clear appeal to God.

Enjoy this version sung by French Canadian Celine Dion in one of the loveliest renditions you will ever hear. She’s welcome to call my home her home any day of the week, especially after this Tribute to Heroes from September 11th.

God bless AmericaWhile the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we

raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America, land that I love.

Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans white with foam.

God Bless America, my home sweet home.

God Bless America, my home sweet home.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on August 1, 2016

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