My Country ‘Tis of Thee – National Hymn of the United States
My Country ‘Tis of Thee (also known as “America”) is a patriotic hymn written by Samuel F. Smith in 1832, while a student at Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. The melody had traveled around Europe in several variations, including “God Save the King.” Even Beethoven and Haydn had used the music in some of their own compositions.
My Country ‘Tis of Thee (America) was the lyrical result of Samuel Smith’s drive to create a national hymn for the United States. In about 30 minutes on a rainy day, he wrote the now classic anthem. The first three verses encourage and invoke national pride, while the last verse was specifically reserved as a petition to God for His continued favor and protection of the United States of America.
My Country ‘Tis of Thee – The Lyrics
The following are Samuel Smith’s original lyrics for “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” (“America’):
My Country ‘Tis of Thee – America’s National Hymn
My Country ‘Tis of Thee was first performed on July 4, 1832 at the Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Remarkably, about 500 Sunday school children premiered the piece at a memorable Independence Day celebration.
Samuel F. Smith was a Baptist minister, author, and journalist. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1801. He was later a student at Harvard and served as a translator for various foreign languages. He received his theological training at Andover Theological Seminary starting in 1830. He later married Mary White Smith and they had six children.
In addition to writing My Country 'Tis of Thee, Smith wrote over 150 other hymns. These hymns were compiled into a Baptist hymnal, The Psalmist.
Smith died on November 16, 1895.