A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

America the Beautiful

A lesson from my Virginian friend Barry.
Dear Mr. Batton:

Thanks for airing one of my favorite patriotic songs during your July 1
show on WHKT 1650 AM, which I heard rebroadcast this morning. The
versions you chose were very uplifting, but both suffer from a
fundamental misinterpretation of the author's intent.

"God shed His grace on thee" is a plea or prayer for our nation's
future, not a statement of past action. It should have been preceded by
"may", but the meter did not allow that. The following line clarifies
this intent: "And crown thy good" (not "crowned" as one singer said, or
"I knew He would" as the other interjected).

In other stanzas, the author wrote "May God thy gold refine", carrying
this theme of future improvement with His guidance into "God mend thine
ev'ry flaw". I view even "Thine alabaster cities gleam" as a "patriot's
dream" rather than a fait accompli in the late 19th century or now.

The past-tense interpretation of "shed" often is ridiculed by those who
see America's greatness as waning or not exceptional in the first place.
I never liked the word, since it implies that God retains less grace to
give in the future or to others. But let's understand its tense in the
author's mind.

Barry J. Mitchel
Portsmouth VA

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