By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

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!

In 1893, on a trip to my hometown, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Katharine Lee Bates, a poet and writer, penned the words of America’s quasi-national anthem, “America, the Beautiful,” inspired by her view from atop Pikes Peak. It is a sight that I have gazed upon many times, this spectacular vista from the crown of Pikes Peak, which looms directly over the city, known as “the Springs.”

Though once sung to the tune for “Auld Lang Syne,” the famous tune, now always popularly sung with these lyrics, was composed by Samuel A. Ward, the organist and choirmaster at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey, in 1883. Bates and Ward amazingly never met.

The particular words of Bates’ hymn are really a prayer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to do its salvific work in the hearts of the country’s citizens. Bates was the daughter of a preacher, a Congregational pastor, who died while she was still young.

Her words, “God mend thine every flaw, and confirm thy soul in self-control,” speak of the work and fruit of the Holy Spirit to sanctify in us the results of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement for our sinful hearts.

The ultimate goal of brotherhood in the population of these United States is the goal of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” for Christ’s sake, becoming like your Savior as He, Himself, lived before dying on Golgotha’s cross for our sins.

This is not “Christian Nationalism” as it is so negatively used today, but the prayer for America to seek Jesus as their Savior and thus become brothers and sisters in God’s family, every much as Sweden or Zambia, China or Vietnam, need to do in their own respective countries.

God’s family is after all made up of folk from every tribe, nation, and language, and those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Master, are genuinely citizens of heaven along with the Apostle Paul of Greek-Jewish descent and a rather famous Roman citizen.

I, for one, am truly thankful to God for His Providence for my birth and life in America, the beautiful, at the foot of Pikes Peak. I love the freedom we graciously enjoy, and for which I myself fought. I love the freedom protected by brothers who gave their lives on Normandy’s blood-red beaches.

But I look forward to the city, with foundations, whose designer and builder is my God! There, the brotherhood is thoroughly genuine and eternal. I enjoyed such on earth, but I will enjoy it even more so in my home in a new heaven and earth. Thank you, Jesus. Soli Deo Gloria!

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