The patriotic anthem America the Beautiful started life in the last decade of the 1800s, penned by a Wellesley professor who was inspired by her trip across Pikes Peak. Katherine Lee Bate’s original poem was modified in the early 1900s, as several composers, players and conductors paired it with different tunes.
The tune with the sticking power, the tune that makes our hearts swell and gives us a little tear in our eye when it’s played by a band, was written by Samuel Ward. Bate’s edited poem and Ward’s music were first published together in 1910. Regrettably, Ward passed away in 1903, never knowing that his tune would become synonymous with all things patriotic.
In celebration of the Fourth, I’ve paired Ms. Bate’s poem with summer morning scenery from Meredith, New Hampshire.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!