If you composed a song about America, what would you write?
Once upon a fleeting time, an English professor from Massachusetts traveled West
by train. Her name was Katherine Lee Bates. She was the author of many books of
poetry, travel books and children’s books. When Katherine got to Colorado, she visited
Pike’s Peak and was inspired by its majestic, purple colors.
On the pinnacle of that mountain, words of a poem began to form in Katherine’s
mind. She had seen many beautiful places on her journey and her heart was filled with
love for her country, America.
Several years earlier, a man named Samuel Ward was on a ferryboat trip from
Coney Island back to his home in New York City. He was an organist and composer. A
beautiful tune came to him and he wrote the music down.
In 1910, a publisher combined Samuel’s music with Katherine’s lyrics to create the
patriotic song, America the Beautiful. This is their song:
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!

Samuel and Katherine were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970.
They never met one another.