Living on the coast of Maine, I am privileged to be surrounded by, a section of God's magnificent creation. In 1893, a young woman named Katharine Lee Bates traveled West from her New England home and was taken in by a different area of God's creation. Katharine was delighted by the wind-waved gold of the vast wheat-fields.
Part of her journey took her to Pike's Peak in Colorado. The view from the 15,000 foot summit appeared breathtaking and she was inspired to pencil a poem in her journal. This poem was originally titled "Pikes Peak" which first published in the Fourth of July edition of a church periodical "The Congregationalist" in 1895. At that time, the poem was titled "America" for publication.
Katharine, an English professor from Wellesley College remarked after her trip, "Greatness and goodness are not necessarily synonymous. Rome was great, but she was not good, and for that reason the Roman Empire fell. ... Unless we are willing to crown our greatness with goodness, and our bounty with brotherhood, our beloved America may go the same way".
Somewhere along the way, this poem was set to the music of "Materna" written by Samuel A. Ward in 1882. It was titled America the Beautiful, and gained popularity during World War I, inspiring patriotic pride and prayer through the nation.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain;
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.