Katharine Lee Bates

    In 1893, English professor Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) traveled from Wellesley College in Massachusetts to lecture for the summer Image of sunrise taken 10/18/2003 Portland, Oregon at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  On her way west, she visited the Alabaster World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, crossed amber fields in the Midwest, and was awed by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains,  Inspired by her journey and the breathtaking view from the top of Pike's Peak, she wrote "America the Beautiful," our unofficial second national anthem.
   "America the Beautiful" was first published on July 4, 1895, in The Congregationalist a weekly journal.  This marked the only time Bates was paid for her poem, giving in her lifetime "hundreds, perhaps thousands of free permissions for its use."  At first it was set to a variety of melodies, but today it is sung to Samuel A. Ward's "Materna," to which it is sung exclusively.
    Katharine was born August 12, 1859, in the family's home on 16 Main Street in Falmouth, Massachusetts where her father was the minister of the First Congregational Church on the Village Green.  Her birthplace is a two and half story Colonial home, built in 1810.  Katharine was the fifth child born to William and Cornelia Frances Lee Bates.  The family had come to Falmouth in 1858.  The Rev. Bates served as pastor of the First Congregational Church on the Village Green.  She was a month old when her father died.  She attended Wellesley High School, graduating in 1874.  In 1878, she graduated from the more advanced Newton High School.  Miss Bates then entered Wellesley College.  She graduated from Wellesley College in 1874, and was the president of its second graduating class.  She joined the faculty at Wellesley as a professor of English Literature and taught there for forty years until she retired in 1925.  Katharine was the author of thirty-two books and was a political and social activist.
    In 1926, a strong push was made to adopt the hymn as the national anthem.  But the older, more established "Star-Spangled Banner" instead won official status when on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill proclaiming it so.  Even to day, advocates of the hymn push for official anthem status
    After her death in 1929, she was buried beside her parents in Falmouth's Oak Grove Cemetery.  A memorial statue on the Green in Falmouth depicts her at the top of Pike's Peak imagining the first lines of her famous poem.

   William Bates graduated from Middlebury College in 1837 and Andover Theological Seminary in 1840. He was licensed to preach April 7, 1840 by the Andover Association. For a time he supplied the Congregational church in Dudley, Massachusetts. He was ordained as a Congregational minister and installed as Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Northbridge, Massachusetts on November 5,1845.

    On June 16, 1858, William was installed as Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Falmouth. William's health failed not long after moving to Falmouth. He died September 19,1859, due to a spinal tumor which may have been the result of an earlier injury. He strained his back in 1853 when, in rescuing fellow passengers from a train wreck, he was obliged to rip a seat out of the floor. Rev. William Bates is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Falmouth.

America the Beautiful

    Katharine Lee bates wrote the original version in 1893.  She wrote the 2nd version in 1904.  Her final version was written in 1913.

    A note from Miss Bates:
    "One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak.  We hired a prairie wagon.  Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules.  I was very tired.  But when I saw the view, I felt great joy.  All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse."  

America the Beautiful - 1913

Oh 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, impasssioned 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 the 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 the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.!"
                                                                                                                                                  Genesis 1:1,2 (NIV)

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