Three Anthems

I was just thinking about patriotism and America for some reason*, and I thought I’d write about something that I’ve oft commented on to family and friends on occasion. I was never happy with our national anthem. It always seemed so war-like and even has the word “bombs” in it. Sure, I am a born and raised Pacifist and Buddhist with strong Quaker roots, but maybe I’m not the only one – hippy dippy tree-hugging background or not – who feels this way.

Our anthem came about because some dude after some battle he witnessed from afar during the war of 1812, felt all swole up with pride, that the Star Spangled Banner was still flying after a night of bombs and rockets bursting everywhere. I think that’s great. But did it have to end up being our national anthem? (Thanks btw, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover).

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key (1814)

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

There are actually three more stanzas of this thing – I had no idea – and they all sort of say the same thing, so I guess that’s why just the first one was picked.


I always thought the song America, The Beautiful should be our national anthem. While it gets a little too poetic near the end, I feel it certainly goes down better than some ditty about being relieved our flag was still flying after a battle.

This song speaks about the beauty of the land, celebrates that whole America = Freedom thing and actually has the word “America” in it, repeatedly. Something I think a song that is supposed to represent our country should at least have. “Land of the free, home of the brave” doesn’t cut it for me.

Not to mention that this song was written by a woman, and in some circles was considered to be a lesbian as well. No, we couldn’t have a lovely song touting how beautiful our land is, calling it by name even, as our national anthem – particularly if it was penned by a mere woman, and an unmarried one at that!

America, The Beautiful Lyrics
by Katharine Lee Bates (1913)

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 impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry 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 ev’ry 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!


Of other interest is the song My Country, ‘Tis Of Thee, which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the “Let Freedom Ring” lyric in That Speech we all know so well. The other songs mention God, but this one takes the cake with all of its religious references. Was penned by a seminary student so go figure.


And I saved the best for last. We have what is considered to be “The African-American National Anthem”. Usually sung in Juneteenth celebrations but certainly at major African-American goings on as well, as has been my experience.

Lift Every Voice and Sing
Written by James Weldon Johnson (1899)

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

I love this song and please do a search for it on youtube and treat yourself to some wonderful renditions of it. However, I wouldn’t want it as our national anthem because I like having something that is our own. Yeah, I’m selfish like that. Besides, I don’t think it was ever meant to be a replacement anthem song. It was originally a poem after all.


*Actually, I was thinking of America and patriotism because I was watching the documentary Done The Impossible (2006), and getting all teared up about Firefly and Serenity.
And getting that feeling that you get when you know you are a Browncoat and start remembering how it was when they stood together against all odds out there in The Black.
“We have done the impossible, and that makes us Mighty” -Mal
Gorram right it does!

About Awake BW

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4 Responses to Three Anthems

  1. mamajohnston says:

    I love America the Beautiful.

    • Awake BW says:

      Me too. I feel a national anthem should be love song of sorts. A song expressing love for the country and praising up all the good stuff. Not a “whew! our flag is still flyin!” song. I mean really.

  2. mstoogood4yall says:

    I heard we had a black anthem but never heard it or knew the name of it thanks. I looked it up and found this song I like the pictures in the vid, gave me chills. (

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