Tag Archives: My Country ‘Tis of Thee

We Sing America

By Bobbie Kirkhart

I think it’s like­ly true that the peo­ple of all nations love their patri­ot­ic songs even when they don’t agree with their message.

I love Amer­i­can patri­ot­ic music, although some of the lyrics are much too bel­li­cose and vir­tu­al­ly all of it is much too reli­gious for this athe­ist to embrace. And the music itself may or may not be Amer­i­can. Indeed, the music of one of our most promi­nent songs, “My Coun­try ‘Tis of Thee,” is the British nation­al anthem “God Save the Queen.” This ren­di­tion is sung by Aretha Franklin at Barack Obama’s inauguration:

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Per­haps more iron­ic is the fact that our nation­al anthem, “The Star Span­gled Ban­ner,” a poem writ­ten in praise of our efforts against the Eng­lish in the War of 1812, is set to the tune of a British drink­ing song, “The Anacre­on­tic Song.”

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