America the Beautiful

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, the 5th of July. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Independence Day celebrations across the country featured a well-loved patriotic song: “America the Beautiful.”

The lyrics have roots in the 19th Century, and from a poem by English professor Katharine Lee Bates. During a Fourth of July train ride to Colorado, Bates noticed those “amber waves of grain” in Kansas. Later, on Pikes Peak, she wrote the opening stanza as she gazed upon the fertile country under big skies.

REICHARD: Two years later, in 1895, Bates published the poem. She revised the lyrics twice, and in 1913 wrote the version we all know today. 

At first, “America the Beautiful” had no published melody. It was sung to many popular tunes, including “Auld Lang Syne.” But a church organist from Newark, New Jersey, put it to one of his melodies and that tune stuck.

EICHER: As we wrap up our week, here’s the Hillsdale College Choir—under the direction of James Holleman—with its rendition of the patriotic hymn, arranged by Frank La Rocca.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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