America! America! God Shed His Grace On Thee

One of my favorite songs is a prayer for America:

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America is beautiful. Photo by Rick Kemple, Wikimedia, CC license.

We live in a beautiful, rich land. We live in a land of plenty.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

We worship God in this land, we plead for his blessings, for his grace, for his help in making us truly the brothers we ought to be.

Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress,
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

What other people brought such freedom, such prosperity across the world? Even the defeated nations who have fallen at our feet have been lifted up again by us and given freedom, given opportunity. We have not been perfect, but America has been good. Mostly because of our worldview in which we see value in the individual, and we have seen a world of oppression when we knew God desired a world of freedom. We have done our best to beat back the wilderness of misery, ignorance, and slavery and leave in our wake a world of freedom and dignity.

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
thy liberty in law.

We acknowledge our faults, our excesses, our missteps and plead with God to direct us anew, to forgive us, to mend our national character where we have fallen short. We know it is only through self-control and adherence to the rule of law that we can have liberty. Only the good ever can retain freedom. Depravity, weakness, and evil demand outside control and so we plead that God will correct us and guide us where we go wrong.

Oh, beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

When America goes to war we do so with the aim of protecting our own freedom and extending that freedom around the globe. Our volunteer army know precisely what it is they are fighting for. They do not fight for a dictator who promises them scope for their evil lusts. They do not fight for riches and plunder. They do not fight out of fear. They fight out of love. They have lain down their lives, sometimes in the most horrific of ways. And what other army has ever been so merciful, so selfless to the enemy that when the smallest mistake is made, we take note? We honor, we love, we owe everything to our soldiers.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

Refining gold is a painful process. It requires immense amounts of heat during which the dross rises to the top and may be skimmed off. We know we are best not when we are easy and comfortable and prosperous, but when we struggle for our freedom, for our way of life. We were refined and made stronger by the revolutionary war. We were refined and made freer by the civil war. We were refined and produced the greatest generation in the furnace of the depression and World War II. We need continual refining by God and while we do not court war or hardship, we understand its purpose and will meet it bravely, turning to God in our extremity so that it will be for our good.

Oh, beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!

We do not build our commerce, our education, our homes, our dreams for today only. America is a nation of visionaries. We see future generations and build for their freedom as much as for our own. Our cities, our industry, our business were not built on human misery and suffering. We do not aggrandize ourselves at the expense of others. We do not have classes of citizens who pray upon one another or envy one another or attempt to pull down one another and raise up ourselves on the backs of their suffering. We are all Americans and our rule of law ensures that everyone has a shot. Our self-control ensures our rule of law.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Again we plead for God’s help in the unprecedented task of our role as a light on the hill, as the beacon of freedom to the world. It is not possible to flawed humanity to rise above our petty and cruel tendencies, to extend the same rights to others as we enjoy ourselves without His aid.

God bless our leaders. God bless our soldiers. God bless our people. God help us to retain the vision and the ideals of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. God let us be an instrument in spreading freedom across the world.

Happy Memorial Day.

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