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Tis Your Birthday

Text (Psalm 85:12) Oh Yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. (The Message-Eugene Peterson)

Thought starters
I’d like to tell you a story on this special weekend.

Samuel Smith was born almost 200 years ago in 1808 in the state of Massachusetts. He was so good in school he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up. He decided before he went to college that he wanted to tell people about Jesus. So he became a Baptist Minister.

In 1832 one of his friends came to visit him while he was in the middle of his studies to be a minister. His friend William Woolbridge had just come back from a trip to Europe. While he was in the country of Germany he became amazed with the churches known in Germany as Cathedrals. He loved the old music that was played and sung in those Cathedrals.

He dropped off to Samuel Smith a trunk of German Songbooks. Samuel went through six of these songbooks. Nothing was interesting to him and he was about to stop. When he ran across a melody that he liked. He translated the words of that melody from German to English. It was about “God save the Queen.” Samuel Smith wondered why that song would be in a church songbook? He grabbed a pen and paper and in thirty minutes he wrote a poem that fit the melody of this song better.

On July 4th, 1832, Samuel Smith heard five hundred children sing the poem he wrote to this special music for the first time at Park Community Church in Boston.

This song was sung many times during the Civil War and was a favorite of President Lincoln, who asked for it to be played at many events.

This weekend we celebrate the birthday of this Country and also of this song by the Baptist Minister Samuel Smith one hundred and seventy one years ago. “My Country Tis of Thee.” Let us remember this song and also the words of Psalm 85:12 (read).

Hymn “My Country Tis of Thee”-Samuel Francis Smith

Prayer- Lord, thank you for Rev. Smith and his special poem. And for those children who sang it first, and the ones who sing it today. Amen

Prop-This story came from Ace Collins’ book “Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America”-Zondervan 2003.

William Bode, Director of Children’s Ministries

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