Irving Berlin’s God Bless America

The following, which is a shocking reminder of how dramatically America has changed, is adapted from “Irving Berlin and ‘God Bless America!’” by Bill Federer, American Minute: In 1940, Kate Smith sang the patriotic hymn “God Bless America” before Democratic campaign rallies at the request of the Democratic National Committee. The hymn was written by popular song writer Irving Berlin, who was born in Russia in 1888, the son of a Jewish rabbi. The family immigrated to New York in 1902 to escape anti-Jewish persecution, and Irving served in the U.S. Army in World War I as an infantry sergeant. Berlin gave all the royalties of “God Bless America” to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The original scout oath said, “On my honor I will do my best: To do my duty to God and my country.” Irving was granted the Congressional Gold Medal “in recognition of his services in composing many popular songs, including ‘God Bless America.’” The bill was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. Upon receiving the medal in February 1955, Berlin told the president, “To me, God Bless America’ was not just a song but an expression of my feeling toward the country to which I owe what I have and what I am.” The lyrics go like this: “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. 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 oceans white with foam, God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home, God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home!”

(Friday Church News Notes, May 15, 2020,,, 866-295-4143)