A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 21, 2022
“America the Beautiful” (1902 revisions)

The words to the poem “America the Beautiful” were composed by Wellesley College professor Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1928) in 1893, after a visit to Pike’s Peak in 1893. The poem, titled “America,” was printed in The Congregationalist (Boston, MA) on July 4, 1895, with this first stanza:

“O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!”


The poem was printed in the Christian Observer (Louisville, KY) on October 15, 1902. “Above the enameled plain” was changed to “Above the emerald plain.”

The poem, titled “America the Beautiful,” was printed in the Buffalo (NY) Illustrated Times on November 9, 1902, with this first stanza:

“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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”


Katharine Lee Bates told The Congregationalist of June 28, 1923, that the revised version had been printed in the Boston (MA) Evening Transcript in 1904. Correspondence has been made with her archives at Wellesley College, but there is no explanation of the new discovery of the 1902 revision.

The “America” poem was set to music by Silas G. Pratt (1846-1916) in the late 1890s. Samuel A. Ward (1848-1903) composed “Materna” (1882). It wasn’t until after his 1903 death, by at least 1909, that his music was first used with Katharine Lee Bates’s verses to form the popular “America the Beautiful” hymn.


Wikipedia: America the Beautiful
“America the Beautiful” is a patriotic American song. Its lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates and its music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. The two never met.

Bates wrote the words as a poem originally entitled “Pikes Peak”. It was first published in the Fourth of July 1895 edition of the church periodical, The Congregationalist. It was at that time that the poem was first entitled “America”.

Ward had initially composed the song’s melody in 1882 to accompany lyrics to “Materna”, basis of the hymn, “O Mother dear, Jerusalem”, though the hymn was not first published until 1892.
(...)
On the pinnacle of that mountain, the words of the poem started to come to her, and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room at the original Antlers Hotel. The poem was initially published two years later in The Congregationalist to commemorate the Fourth of July. It quickly caught the public’s fancy. An amended version was published in 1904. The combination of Ward’s melody and Bates’s poem was first entitled “America the Beautiful” in 1910. The song is one of the most popular of the many U.S. patriotic songs.

Wikipedia: Katharine Lee Bates
Katharine Lee Bates (August 12, 1859 – March 28, 1929) was an American professor and author, chiefly remembered for her anthem “America the Beautiful”, but also for her many books and articles on social reform, on which she was a noted speaker.

Bates enjoyed close links with Wellesley College, Massachusetts, where she had graduated with a B.A., and later became a professor of English literature, helping to launch American literature as an academic speciality, and writing one of the first-ever college textbooks on it

4 July 1895, The Congregationalist (Boston, MA), pg. 17, col. 1:
AMERICA.
BY KATHARINE LEE BATES.
O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

15 October 1902, Christian Observer (Louisville, KY), pg. 20, col. 2:
America.
BY KATHARINE LEE BATES.
O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the emerald plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Newspapers.com
9 November 1902, Buffalo (NY) Illustrated Times, pg. 10, col. 7:
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.
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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When one or twice for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
-- ( Katharine Lee Bates

Google Books
The World’s Best Music:
Famous Songs and Those Who Made Them
Vol. I

Edited by Helen Kendrick Johnson, Frederic Dean, Reginald DeKoven and Gerrit Smith
New York, NY: The University Society
1904
Pg. 68:
AMERICA.
SILAS G. PRATT, the composer of America, was born in Addison, Vermont, August 4th, 1846. (...) The writer of the words of this stirring song is KATHERINE LEE BATES.

Newspapers.com
16 November 1904, Boston (MA) Evening Transcript, pg. 16, col. 2:
AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL
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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Congregationalist] [Katharine Lee Bates

Newspapers.com
19 November 1904, Boston (MA) Evening Transcript, “The Listener,” pg. 19, col. 1:
We rather guess that Professor Katharine Lee Bates of Wellesley has written the American national hymn; that is to say, if now it can be weeded to music of its own quality.
(...)
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruitful plain!
(...)
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
(...)
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Have we an American composer to fit this noble poem to music “not too good for human nature’s daily food,” and so make the whole “one entire and perfect chrysolite” of a national hymn?

Newspapers.com
23 November 1904, Buffalo (NY) Commercial, pg. 12, col. 3:
AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL.
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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Newspapers.com
30 November 1904, Boston (MA) Evening Transcript, pg. 16, col. 5:
Judging from the correspondence that has ensued, the Listener’s suggestion that the poem of Katharine Lee Bates, “America the Beautiful,” should be adopted as the national anthem, has some backers. One correspondent, however, charges plagiarism. But as he brings forward two hymns in which the phrases occur like two in Miss Bates’s verses, the parallelisms occur only in detached phrases in each case, and the charge is far from established. The main scheme and the body of the poem are unscathed. Meanwhile it appears that the musicians have already been at work offering candidates for the musical setting to send it on its way to the American people. From Portland, Me., comes the following:

“The Listener may be glad to know that the poem ‘America,” by Professor Katharine Lee Bates of Wellesley College, was set to music several years ago by Mr. Silas G. Pratt and published in ‘Famous Songs and Those Who Made Them.’ Mr. Pratt was born in Addison, Vt., Aug. 4, 1846. He studied music abroad and is the composer of several symphonies and the grand opera ‘Zenobia.’ “The Prodigal Son,’ his second symphony, is well known, as is ‘Zenobia,’ which was performed the largest number of consecutive times that any opera has been given in the United States. Mr. Pratt had charge of Independence Day at the World’s Fair in 1893, and directed a chorus of 75,000 voices. In 1894 he attended the Antwerp Exposition and gave a special American Day. His setting for Professor Bates’s poem is most attractive.

“Very truly yours, Ellen Locke.”

Newspapers.com
10 December 1904, Boston (MA) Evening Transcript, “Notes and Queries,” pg. 34, col. 1:
(3237.) Where can I find the whole of the poem by Professor Katharine Lee Bates, referred to by the Listener in the Transcript for Nov. 19 as a suitable national hymn?
LINDUM
[The poem was printed in the Transcript some weeks ago, copied from the Congregationalist. As several requests for it have been received by the Listener and Notes and Queries, we repeat it:

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL
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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
[ Katharine Lee Bates

Google Books
1 January 1905, The Wellesley Magazine, pp. 162-163:
Many Alumnae will be glad to have the full text of the following poem by Miss Katharine Lee Bates, 1880:

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL.
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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Google Books
9 February 1907, The Congregationalist and Christian World (Boston, MA), pg. 108, col. 1:
A New National Hymn
BY REV. WILLIAM A. KNIGHT
(...)
The words are by Professor Katherine Lee Bates, of Wellesley College. The tune used by the children was written during the year just ended, by Charles S. Brown, and words and music were sung from Junior Carols, issued by the United Society of Christian Endeavor.

NYS Historic Newspapers
12 December 1909, The Argus (Albany, NY), pg. 16, col. 7:
A NEW NATIONAL HYMN.
(Tune “Materna,” sung at the Rochester meeting of the New York Federation of Women’s Clubs.)
Oh, 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 thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

Oh, beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When valiantly, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

Oh, beautiful for patriot’s dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
-- Catherine Lee Bates

Newspapers.com
1 June 1912, Fitchburg (MA) Daily Sentinel, “America the Beautiful,” pg. 7, col. 1:
The poem was first printed in a less perfected form than that here given, in the Congregationalist of July 4, 1895; but appeared in substantially its present shape in the Boston Transcript of November 19, 1904.

Google Books
28 June 1923, The Congregationalist (Boston, MA), pg. 813, col. 3:
Origin of “America the Beautiful”
Katharine Lee Bates’ Famous Patriotic Hymn

By Percy H. Epler, D.D.
(...)
Katharine Lee Bates’ message states she rewrote it in 1904, making the words “more simple and direct.”

November 19, 1904, the Boston Transcript reissued the hymn as revised. Kindly criticism that constructively came before Professor Bates led her to rewrite it, securing a greater perfection of parts, especially in the opening quatrain of the third stanza.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Monday, March 21, 2022 • Permalink