The Birth of a National Hymn– My Country ‘Tis of Thee
… Samuel F. Smith D.D. (1808-1895), an eminent New England Baptist minister, is the author of this and some thirty other hymns. In answer to some inquiries concerning the composition of the hymn, he says:
“One day, I think in the month of February, 1831 or ’32, in turning over the leaves of music books, I fell in with the tune ‘God Save the King,’ though I did not know it at that time to be the English national air. I at once wrote a patriotic hymn in the same measure and spirit, and soon after gave it to Mr. Lowell Mason, together with other pieces, and thought no more of it. On the next 4th of July, I found that the piece was brought out for the first time at a children’s celebration of the day in Park Street Church, Boston. This was the beginning of its course. It gradually found is way into music books for children, and into public schools in various places; and thus I cannot but think, may have had an influence in infusion into many childish hearts a love of country, which prepared them to battle for the right, the true and the good, when the time of peril to our institutions and our country came.
“I have often remarked that if I had supposed the piece would have been so popular, I should have taken more pains to perfect it. ‘Yes’, says someone, ‘and thus, perhaps, you would have spoiled it.’
It has won its way, most unexpectedly to myself, into the hearts of the people. I have heard most gratifying narratives of the places where the circumstances under which it has served as the expression of heart-felt love of country – in schools, in huts, on Western prairies, in churches, on the eve of battle, and in soldier’s hospitals. I never designed it for a national hymn –I never supposed I was writing one.”
Melody Publications’ focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.