Nature Imagery in Patriotic Songs

While singing “My Country Tis of Thee” this morning I was struck by the centrality of natural imagery. Clicking around the internet, it seems our country’s greatest patriotic songs all rely on references to nationality, nature, and religion. Interesting!

Examples of natural imagery in the classics:

My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Text: 1831
Music: 1744

My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

America The Beautiful
Text: 1910
Music: 1852

O 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 they good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

The Star Spangled Banner
Text: 1814
Music:Traditional British “drinking song”

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
in full glory reflected now shines in the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And a recent example: 

Hymn for America
Text & Music: 2004 

We have loved you for your rivers
We have loved you for your shores,
E’vry treasure you have shown us, 
Evr’y seed that you have sown;

We have loved you for your mountains,
For your prairies, for your fields,
All these gifts we have been given,
All these glories that we share;

Many are the stars of heaven,
Many the hopes of earth;
From the moment of our rising,
‘Till we rest when day is done,

May we tell our hearts’ own story,
Hearts that honor and believe,
Through our care for one another, 
For this life and land we love.

© 2013 Interfaith Environmental Network