The Story Behind A Patriotic Song: 'America the Beautiful'
“America the Beautiful,” one of the most famous US patriotic songs, was written by Katharine Lee Bates and composed by Samuel A. Ward. The poem was first published in the Fourth of July edition of the church periodical The Congregationalist in 1895 under the title, “America.” The tune used for Bate’s poem was initially written for the music "Materna," for the hymn "O Mother dear, Jerusalem." In 1910, the lyrics combined with Ward’s music was released to the public and was entitled "America the Beautiful."
Katharine Lee Bates, born on August 12, 1859, was an Amerian writer, a college professor, and a scholar. She was also a social activist who desired to make a change in society. During her time, she has written loads of poems, essays, travel books, and children’s books, but she is popular as the poet behind “America the Beautiful.”
Bates was 33 when she wrote the poem. She had a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a short summer school class. The sights she saw during her travel inspired her to write the poem. The World's Columbian Exposition located in Chicago is the first. Other views included the magnificent Great Plains overlooked from Pikes Peak, the astounding “White City,” and the wheat fields along Kansas road. She wrote all the words that had overwhelmed her all through her journey when he returned to her hotel room.
There are at least 75 different melodies sent for America the Beautiful. Silas Pratt’s melody was the first known tune associated with the song. However, the tune composed by Samual A. Ward in 1882 at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey became the most popular up to this day as it was considered to be the best music composed for the poem. Ward was inspired to write the tune after his summer day tour from Coney Island. He was still on a ferryboat when the melody came floating in his mind. The song has several renditions popularized by modern singers at present. It’s also sung in addition to the national anthem at some sporting events.