« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

MEMBER DIARY

Irving Berlin was, well, absolutely 100% “right”….

Bill S. has an interesting front page diary…”Our New National Anthem…..” which most of your have hopefully read.

And apropos of that headline, I thought you’d all enjoy this fascinating footnote about “God Bless America,” which many believe is our “de facto” anthem.

Much of the story is well known. How Irving Berlin wrote it during WW I, didn’t think much of it, stuck it in a trunk for two decades, until Kate Smith asked him if he had a song for the debut of her radio program in 1938. The rest, as they say..is history.

However, in the original 1918 lyrics, Berlin wrote:

“Stand beside her, and guide her,
to the right, with the light from above.”

With the rise of fascism in Europe, Berlin felt that the word “right” would have too political a context.

Berlin intended the song to be a prayer for our country; an invocation to God for his blessing and guidance. The words to the rarely sung introduction say it best:

“While the storm clouds gather, far across the sea;
Let us swear allegiance, to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful, for a land so fair.
As we raise our voices, in a solemn prayer.”

Take two minutes to enjoy the great Irish tenor, Ronan Tynan singing “God Bless America”

One last note: Woodie Guthrie, to no one’s surprise, absolutely HATED “God Bless America.” In 1940 he wrote a, well..”answer song”, titled “God Blessed America for Me.”

A short while later, it was retitled as “This Land is Your Land”

The same culture wars, the same divisions in our nation that we talk about on Red State every day, they were just as obvious, and as visceral, 75 years ago. Indeed, that’s when it first pretty much all started to change.

“Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!”

Get Alerts