This well-known patriotic song by Katharine Lee Bates reveres the natural beauty of America and calls upon God to bless the country with grace and mercy. "America the Beautiful" is often sung to celebrate the 4th of July and other holidays honoring national heroes. Read the full lyrics and the story behind this song below!
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 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 mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
The Story Behind America the Beautiful
Katharine Lee Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts in 1859. Her father was a preacher at the Congregational Church and passed away while she was still very young. Her mother then moved the family to Wellesley. She attended Wellesley College, receiving a Bachelor's and Master's degree. She taught high school from 1880-1885 and then was a professor of English literature at Wellesley.
In the summer of 1893 when she was lecturing at Colorado College she went to the top of Pike's Peak. Inspired by the beauty of the view she wrote all four verses of "America the Beautiful" which was immediately popular when it was published.