Back in 1988, during one of our trips to Boston, my wife and I found ourselves wandering around the ancient Old Granary Burial Ground. That historic 1660 cemetery is right next to the almost as historic Park Street Church, which was built in 1809. Being July 4, the church was open to those walking The Freedom Trail, so we went into the beautiful sanctuary. During our visit, a guide informed us that it was there at Park Street Church, back in 1831, that the beautiful patriotic hymn, America, better known as, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, was first sung. The inspiring lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895), who was at the time a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts.
The young Smith had a friend at Park Street Church named Lowell Mason, a noted hymn writer himself, who asked Smith to translate some lyrics from a German songbook at the church, or to write new lyrics. One of the musical passages from Muzio Clementi’s Symphony No. 3 contained the melody known to us as “God Save the Queen”, and this caught Smith’s attention. Rather than merely translating words from German, Smith wrote an entirely new patriotic hymn to Clementi’s music, and completed the verses in about thirty minutes. He gave the new lyrics for the familiar melody to Mason, and it was first performed there at Park Street Church in Boston on July 4, 1831 at a children’s Independence Day celebration. Americans used to sing this hymn quite often, but like most patriotic prose and songs, it seems to be fading into the “attics of our minds”, where most things no longer valued end up.
“My Country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.” Most of us can remember that first famous verse, but there are three other verses, all of which I and countless other more “experienced” Americans used to sing from memory. Today many of us, I fear, have forgotten those other verses, and many of our younger fellow citizens probably have never learned any of those patriotic and stirring words. I wonder why?
Sweet land of liberty –land of our fathers—land of the Pilgrims’ pride---what happened to that land? One line in verse 2 says that America was the “Land of the noble free”. Are we still “noble and free” today, as our Founders perceived those terms, or are we nothing more than a perennially “racist” country, inhabited by an evil and uncaring racially prejudiced majority which has always delighted in persecuting and intimidating our racial minorities, as the Marxist barbarians who are currently rampaging among us are claiming? For many generations, Americans lived mostly in peace with each other, despite having lost our collective minds for a time, beginning with that purposely induced and totally unnecessary violence that began in 1861. Once upon a time Americans banded together to peacefully or legislatively correct the injustices that needed correcting, in order that the promises of freedom would apply to all of us, as they should. The Triune God of Scripture—the God that verse 4 of America calls “Our fathers’ God”, and the “Author of liberty”, gave us ALL of our liberties (our Constitution merely CODIFIES them), and seemed to have blessed our land for many generations, despite our weaknesses, our fallibilities, our sinfulness, our propensity toward violence, our often dismal record of racial injustice, and the resolve of too many of us to “go it alone” without Him who made it all possible.
It’s obvious that we live in a vastly different country now compared to the halcyon days when America was written—a much poorer, more course, more violent, and much more uneducated land. Even when compared to the days when I was growing up—in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, the U.S.A. is virtually unrecognizable today when compared to those days. As the insightful and hard-hitting Devy Kidd said in her article, Distraction Is Your Enemy’s Greatest Weapon (News With Views, July 9, 2018):
“Americans are being bombarded everyday with distractions.
Glued to electronic gadgets, political baiting headlines filled
with hate by members of the Democratic/Communist Party
USA and Hollywood mental midgets….. Ignorant, under-
educated Americans, racists serving in Congress like socialist
Mad Maxine Waters and openly politically biased members
of mainstream media…have all jumped on the garbage truck.”
I maintain that those “distractions” she writes about have been purposely induced over the past century and more in order to advance the process of converting the Constitutional Republic that our Forefathers gave us into a European-style socialist “republic”, birthed by the violence and destructiveness of the useful idiot “storm troopers” of the Communist Klan of New Bolsheviks (i.e. Democrats) known as “AntiFa” and “Black Lives Matter”, whose masters seek to convert the U.S. into a bureaucrat-dominated and subservient member of a far left wing “One World Government”—a “New World Order” in essence, run for the false benefit of all mankind like that young socialist loon, Alexandria Octavia-Cortez, and her idol—Communist Bernie Sanders--would have us believe (but really for the gnomes of vast wealth and power that call the shots), so that “peace and prosperity” will reign far into a glorious future (or until we turn into a North American “Venezuela”—whichever comes first). Well, anyone who believes that claptrap has already been making payments to the salesman who sold him or her a certain bridge in Brooklyn!
Those of us who were educated at a time when the goal of our school systems was to make good and decent citizens of our youth have long recognized that over recent decades the rot and corruption and increasing love for the “benefits” of socialism over free enterprise on the part of almost half of our young people have been caused by the deliberate dumbing down (or de-learning) of our younger generations, encouraged by the no longer subtle attacks on patriotism in our schools and in our media, which has caused large swaths of our people to doubt the eternal truths of God’s Word, Christian Doctrines, and the wisdom of our Founders.
Sadly, far too many Americans in our day have stopped valuing the old things and have departed from the old ways and the old paths. Many of our younger generations, guided by the scurrilous and treasonous “teachers” and “professors” that infest our now Marxist-centered high schools and universities, despise and disparage our Constitutional Republic and its free enterprise system that has brought about the greatest standard of living for the greatest number of our citizens in all of world history, and are convinced that only “socialism”—the highway to mediocrity—is the “wave” of the future. The morality that once guided our parents and grandparents has now become unfashionable! The societal beliefs and actions that had been virtually unthinkable only a few decades ago have become normal for so many of us. Some who call ourselves Christians fear, probably with good reason, that God has already turned His Face away from us and is leaving us to our own rebelliousness and to the fate we seem to be bringing upon ourselves. Whether or not that is actually what is happening remains to be seen, but I increasingly believe it to be so.
“Let music swell the breeze, and ring from all the trees, SWEET FREEDOM’S SONG.” Those words from v. 3 of America once were on the tongues of most Americans, for they had been taught, and they revered, the concepts of freedom learned from their parents and grandparents, all the way back to our Forefathers. Rudyard Kipling said it well: “All we have of freedom, all we use or know, this our fathers won for us, long and long ago.” Yes, they did. And we all need to remember that it takes courage and dedication for any people to retain those freedoms, and not succumb to the “siren songs” of the distractions of political vitriol, mindless entertainment, soul-rotting “music”, and the ridiculous adulation of various vastly overpaid spoiled brat sports “heroes”, and disgusting, drug-infested, America-hating unmusical “superstars” that control our thinking today, particularly the “thinking” in the realms of party politics (especially of the left wing, Socialist/Marxist/Democrat variety). Mal-education, false religion, and despicable “social re-engineering” are disturbingly now all around us, still resisted by our older generations and too often celebrated by our younger citizens who appear to be unconcerned over the destruction of the wisdom from the past, and most of whom are too stupid to know how they are being “used” by the enemies of our liberties. (Witness the mindless and hate-filled rioting and destruction of public monuments we are currently enduring, thanks to the cowardice of BOTH of our political parties and their fear of resisting the barbarians of Satan, as they rampage through many of our cities, instilling fear into our people even though we—the GOOD GUYS—are in the majority!)
By its very nature, any government formed for the best of reasons, as I believe ours was originally, always has in it the “seeds” of tyranny, for the “urge to sin” is implanted in the very nature of mankind. Freedom is a very fragile thing, and the agents of “hope and change”—the purveyors of untruth and mistrust and deception—discovered long ago, and have resurrected it in “slick packaging” in our time, that many Americans love to feed off of the soothing platitudes of “getting something for nothing”, of “free lunches”, of the “detestation of responsibility”, of the “ridicule of our heritage”, of the “I’m not responsible” mind set that is tearing Americans away from their historic
cultural moorings, and causing us to drift ever farther from the safe and historic “ports” of God, family, and country. Many of us believe that the
light of liberty is flickering more and more faintly. Now that “light” of liberty has been passed to US, and it is up to each one of us to do what we can to assure that this precious lamp is never extinguished and that, as the final words of v. 4 of America remind us: “Long may our land be bright, with freedom’s HOLY LIGHT, protect us by thy might, great God our King!” To which all of God’s people should say: AMEN!