In 1892, The United States observed the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
As part of the celebration, the city of Chicago sponsored a World’s Fair which carried over to the next year. It was early in the summer of 1893 that a group of professors from Wellesley College visited the Expo on their way to teach in Colorado. The women later compared the wonders of the man-made Fair with the glory of God’s handiwork in the Rockies.
At the end of the school year, the teachers decided to visit Pike’s Peak, elevation 14,000 feet! One of them, Katharine Lee Bates, wrote, “We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse…It was then and there, as I was looking out over the fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into my mind. When we left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in my notebook. … I copied them out and sent them to print July 4, 1895. The hymn attracted an unexpected amount of attention. In 1904 I rewrote it, trying to make it more simple and direct.”
Katharine’s inspired words are certainly a favorite that resonate my feelings for this vast and diverse nation. “O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!”
I think we need to hear this now: