Information About America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful is a popular patriotic song and a one time rival to The Star Spangled Banner as a national anthem for the USA.
Originally written by Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) as a poem called 'Pike's Peak, it underwent a number of revisions before arriving at its now famous form. The music is from another song named "Materna" by Samuel A. Ward. The combined words and music were first published in 1910 with the title America the Beautiful.
Katharine Lee Bates (1859–1929) grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Later, Bates became a professor of English at Wellesley College and went on to become the head of its English department. Katherine found her inspiration for the lyrics to her poem when on a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1893.
Bates made a trip to Colorado in 1893, when she was thirty-three years old. A college in Colorado Springs invited her to teach for three weeks that summer. She was happy to make the trip, both to see new sights and for the employment.
The train stopped at Niagara Falls and in Chicago, where she saw the "alabaster" buildings of the 1893 World's Fair. It passed through Kansas on the Fourth of July where she saw "amber waves of grain". On arriving in Colorado Springs, she saw many other things that impressed her, like spectacular rock formations and Pike's Peak. From the top of Pike's Peak, she could see many miles of plains on one side and many miles of the Rocky Mountains on the other side. After climbing down, Katharine Bates began writing a poem about all of the sights she had seen on her trip. That poem became "America, the Beautiful".
Two years later, Katharine sent the poem to a magazine called The Congregationalist, and it appeared in the Fourth of July issue. The melody we know today comes from a hymn called "Materna,' written by Samuel Augustus Ward in 1882. The words and music were first published together in 1910. This was one of the melodies to which the poem had been sung for years.
Samuel Ward was born on December 28, 1848, in Newark, New Jersey. He started playing the accordion when he was six years old, and by the age of sixteen, he was an organist at a church in New York City. Later, he owned a music store, played the organ at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, and composed music.
Ward wrote the melody for "Materna" on his way home from a trip to Coney Island, an amusement park at a beach in Brooklyn, New York. The tune just popped into his head as he stood riding on the boat back to Newark. Unfortunately, he never got to hear his melody used for "America, the Beautiful". The words and melody were first joined in November of 1904, and Samuel died on September 28, 1903.