Beautiful, Spacious Skies

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Katharine Lee Bates wrote a hymn text in 1893 that would become one of America’s best-loved patriotic songs. Bates was a professor at Wellesley College and had traveled west to teach a summer course in Colorado Springs. Bates and the other professors decided to take an excursion to Pike’s Peak. They made the ascent by prairie wagon. At the top, Bates was inspired by “the sea-like expanse of fertile country . . . under those ample skies.” She said that the opening lines of the hymn floated into her mind, and she wrote, “O beautiful for spacious skies . . .”

This is the version of the poem that Katharine Bates copyrighted and authorized people to use:

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

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 pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
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!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

One thought on “Beautiful, Spacious Skies

  1. Pingback: Beautiful, Spacious Skies | kalliopekathryne

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