America the Beautiful seemed like the perfect hymn for July as we celebrate Independence day and thank God for our blessings. This song was written by Katherine Lee Bates, a teacher and college professor. She wrote the hymn in the summer of 1893 after having hiked to the top of Pike’s Peak.
The view and resulting conversations inspired this now beloved hymn of thanks. In her own words Bates said, “One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”
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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.
As we study and learn about this hymn this month, we plan to spend some time talking about all of the blessings that we see around us. From the fields of food growing along our roads, the beautiful river that runs through our town providing beauty, enjoyment, and food, and all of the other beautiful things that God has provided us.
In addition to our regular hymn study activities, I thought it would be a lot of fun to take a virtual tour of Pike’s Peak, the place that inspired this beautiful hymn. Due to the current pandemic situation, you can take a tour of the peak as well as some other virtual activities here:Pike’s Peak Virtual Tour.
If you would like to add some art to your study this month, Nana has this wonderful chalk pastel painting of “the purple mountain majesties and the amber waves of grain”. this painting is absolutely beautiful, but also simple enough for even younger children to participate. As always, her hymn studies are included in the You Are An Artist Clubhouse Membership.
I pray you enjoy time with your children studying this hymn this month. As we celebrate our nation’s independence, I hope we always remember to give thanks to God for all of our blessings.
Hymn Study Resources:
America the Beautiful (Story and Lyrics)
America the Beautiful (Ray Charles)
America the Beautiful (U.S. Navy Band)
America the Beautiful (Willie Nelson and More with tribute to 9/11)
America the Beautiful (Cedarmont Kids)
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Hymn Study Fact Sheet
America the Beautiful copywork
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