TTT God Bless America
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God Bless America

America's "unofficial national anthem" was composed by an immigrant who left his home in Siberia for America when he was only five years old. The original version of "God Bless America" was written by Irving Berlin (1888-1989) during the summer of 1918 at Camp Upton, located in Yaphank, Long Island, for his Ziegfeld-style revue, Yip, Yip, Yaphank.

"Make her victorious on land and foam, God Bless America..." ran the original lyric.

However, Berlin decided that the solemn tone of "God Bless America" was somewhat out of keeping with the more comedic elements of the show and the song was laid aside.

In the fall of 1938, as war was again threatening Europe, Berlin decided to write a "peace" song. He recalled his "God Bless America" from twenty years earlier and made some alterations to reflect the different state of the world. Singer Kate Smith introduced the revised "God Bless America" during her radio broadcast on Armistice Day, 1938. The song was an immediate sensation; the sheet music was in great demand. Berlin soon established the God Bless America Fund, dedicating the royalties to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

Berlin's file of manuscripts and lyric sheets for this quintessentially American song includes manuscripts in the hand of Berlin's longtime musical secretary, Helmy Kresa (Berlin himself did not read and write music), as well as lyric sheets, and corrected proof copies for the sheet music.

These materials document not only the speed with which Berlin revised this song, but also his attention to detail. The first proof copy is dated October 31, 1938; the earliest "final" version of the song is a manuscript dated November 2; and Kate Smith's historic broadcast took place on November 11. These documents show the song's step-by-step evolution from the original version of 1918 to the tune we now know.

These manuscripts are part of the Irving Berlin Collection, a remarkable collection that includes Berlin's personal papers as well as the records of the Irving Berlin Music Corp. It was presented to the Library of Congress in 1992, by Berlin's daughters, Mary Ellin Barrett, Linda Louise Emmet, and Elizabeth Irving Peters.

Kate Smith

While you are at it, you might want to take advantage of our other free features:

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Sing Along With Kate!

This is the "verse"
(It isn't on the recording)
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:

Click Here to Start Playing

God Bless America.
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home. God Bless America,
Land that I love
Stand beside her,
And guide her,
Through the night
With the light from above,
From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the ocean,
White with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

This song is in a mp3 format. Most machines equipped with Windows95 (or later) have a sound board and player on the machine. If you don't have the required sound card, you need a hardware upgrade. If you are missing the player (or plug-in), you can get one free from the Web.

Internet Explorer will usually provide streaming, that is as soon as enough of the song has downloaded, the music will start. Netscape usually requires that the entire song is downloaded before the player starts. The Download takes two to four minutes to download (depending on web traffic and the speed of your machine). Good luck. I hope you enjoy the song. Turn up the volume and sing along.

When I was very little, my Grandmother and I used to listen to Kate Smith's radio program. Here is her theme song:

When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain

Kate Smith passed away on June 17, 1986.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989)
"God Bless America"
Manuscript score, 1938
Music Division, Library of Congress
Copyright 1938, 1939 by Irving Berlin
Copyright renewed 1965, 1966 by Irving Berlin
Copyright assigned to Winthrop Rutherfurd, Jr., Anne Phipps Sidamon-Eristoff, and Theodore R. Jackson as Trustees of the God Bless America Fund. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.

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