When In Our Music God Is Glorified 

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.

This well-known hymn is often sung around this time of year in observance of Veteran’s Day. The writer of America the Beautiful, Katherine Lee Bates, was born in Massachusetts in 1859. In the summer of 1893, Miss Bates was visiting and teaching in Colorado. It was there while standing on the summit of Pike’s Peak, looking out over the countryside from some 14,000 feet that Katherine was inspired to write the opening sentences of this beloved text. She writes, “It was there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under the ample skies, that the opening lines of this text formed themselves in my mind.”

Later the same year, Katherine was visiting the Columbian Exposition of the World’s Fair in Chicago and marveled at the magnificent buildings erected for the exposition. Thousands of people came from all over the world to marvel at the grandeur of such a spectacle. Katherine noted, “The expression ‘Alabaster Cities’ was the direct result of this visit. It made such a strong appeal to my patriotic feelings that it was, in no small degree, responsible for at least the last stanza. It was my desire to compare the unusual beauties of God’s nature in this country with the distinctive spectacles created by man.” In each stanza, Katherine rounds the descriptive language with an earnest prayer, that God will always help our land to attain its real destiny.
As our observances of Veteran’s Day come to a close, I hope that you have had an opportunity to thank a service member for his or her service. When you have a moment, pull out the words to America the Beautiful and meditate on them. This hymn calls us to remember our past, those that have sacrificed for us, and reminds us to continually pray God’s blessings on us and our endeavors. 

I hope to see you Sunday for worship. Grace and Peace, Dakota