Being the Music Director at my church, Grace Baptist Church of Pelzer, South Carolina, I have the responsibility of selecting most of the congregational hymns to be used in our church services each week. That, I might add, is an awesome responsibility requiring prayerful thought.
Today, as I was going through our hymnal, I came across a song that made me pause and reflect on my years in elementary school. That may seem a bit ancient to you, but it was only 60 years ago which would have been in the post WW II years of 1948 into the early 1950s
The song? “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or you may know it as “America” – not to be confused with “America the Beautiful”. What caught my attention was the title. I got to thinking of what was meant by, not only the title, but also the lyrics of the first stanza.
It is quite obvious that “My Country” is referring to The United States of America and “ ‘Tis of Thee” is referring to God. JUST THINK OF THAT – the United States of America is of God.
That is an almost forgotten concept among the populace of the good ole USA. Isn’t it? Hasn’t the word “God” been stricken from all governmental gatherings and made federal law that he word “God” cannot even be referred to in any buildings financially supported by the federal government?
I haven’t forgotten the concept and perhaps you haven’t, but don’t you agree that the overwhelming population of Our Country has forgotten that the USA is “of thee”, referring to God? I mean, look at the lyrics of the fourth stanza, “…Great God, our King!” That’s a direct reference to the God of the Bible.
I know that this song is not the national anthem, nor is it in any way understood to be endorsed by the Federal Government, though it was commonly used in public school classrooms and assemblies.
I could not help but recall the singing of these patriotic hymns along with our national anthem, not just in elementary, but at some assemblies in high school as well.
My “old feeble” mind went racing to the pride and patriotism that was instilled in our youthful minds in those years. I can still hear the strong contralto voice of Kate Smith singing the original arrangement of “God Bless America”
I remember how much all of us kids would enjoy singing along with her, because we knew the words to the song. We thought surely everyone in OUR COUNTRY knew the words, and were singing along with us.
Kate Smith became known as The Songbird of the South after her enduring popularity during World War II and contribution to American Culture and patriotism.
When I finished singing through all the patriotic songs, I returned to modern day reality, and the cold hard facts that our country is no longer “….of Thee”. The thought is so sad that were it not for my strong faith in the God of The Bible, I could very easily become severely depressed.
What a thought!! If our country “is of God”, why do we need to turn BACK to God. Could it be that America has turned AWAY from God?
I’m currently studying some of the books of the Old Testament in the Bible. My head literally “swims” sometimes with the numerous times God’s chosen people, the Israelites, turned away from God and “did evil in the sight of God.” Then, after many years of captivity and after much judgment from God, they would “turn BACK to God” and be under the leadership of a “good” king or prophet for a while.
Moses and Joshua called them a stubborn and rebellious people. How it grieves my heart to think that the majority of the population of a Country that “…is of God” would be in a state of stubbornness and rebelliousness toward God as a people.
A recent survey revealed that on any given “day of worship” (Sunday), the vast majority of American citizens choose to ignore the “local churches”, which are spread throughout our country by the thousands. There are actually more citizens engaged in shopping, recreation, or “sleeping in” rather than the worship of God in local churches.
When I think of these type reports, my mind immediately thinks of an age old passage in the God’s Word found in II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
But that was the stubborn and rebellious Israelites, not the good ole United States of America.
As much as I sincerely abhor doing so, I am going to have to concede. It really is so very applicable to My Country.
- The land that I love.
- The “land where our fathers died.”
- The “land of the pilgrims’ pride.”
- The land about which I have sung for these many years – “Long my our land be bright with freedom’s Holy light.”
- “..Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King!”
My plea and my cry to My Country?
…America, let’s please turn back to God, before it is too late, PLEASE!! …let’s humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways; then God will hear us from heaven, and forgive our sins, and will heal OUR LAND.
As of this writing I feel that the God of the OUR COUNTRY continues to be the God of the Holy Scripture, the Bible, upon which our founders swore with an oath to uphold.
The God of the United States of America is not the “other gods” of the world. Isaiah 44:6 “Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
I conclude with the Statue of Liberty in mind. From the beginning, the USA has welcomed all people of all nations. Once they have met citizenship requirements through immigration, they are considered citizens of OUR COUNTRY, WHICH IS “of” Thee (God).
Sadly, millions of illegal immigrants have been enjoying the benefits of citizenship without meeting requirements of citizenship.
Whether legal or illegal, these newly included people must understand that “…our God is the first and the last; and besides Him there is no God.”
At least the lyrics to the song still remain – My Country ‘Tis of Thee. The old English word “thee” refers the God of the Bible.